IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s logical to believe that Iowa’s 3-0 start has built confidence. It’s silly think otherwise.
The chutzpah kicked off in January, however. It was needed after the program lost four of its last five games, including a beat-down to Tennessee in the Taxslayer Bowl, last season.
Post-season preparations for the next campaign start shortly after the holidays. The players get to work with renowned strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
Doyle has built a reputation for maximizing Iowa’s talent. He’s done it as much with psychology as physical training.
In January, Doyle installed "The Slight Edge" concept with the Hawkeyes. It called for everyone to follow the outline in the Jeff Olsen book by the same name whose central idea is "Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success & Happiness."
Olson writes that the best path to completing a task or goal is through incremental and consistent work.
"We adapted to what Coach Doyle brought up to us, doing the little things right and it just slowly builds up, those invisible things that are easy not to do but easy to do. Finally towards the end, you’ll reap what you’re sewing," Iowa Running Back Jordan Canzeri said.
"You could just see it right from the start. All of us seniors, we adapted to it. The whole team, the young guys adapted to it so quickly. It just built that confidence with all of us as a team."
While we’ll have nine more games to test the concept, the Hawkeyes already appear to be a team with a more focused and disciplined approach than a year ago. They overcame a deficit in a win at Iowa State two weeks ago and held off a Pittsburgh rally on Saturday. That resiliency was missing in 2014.
"I think it shows that no matter what type of situation we’re in, we’re going to fight," Canzeri said. "It is a great thing for us and it does build character with all the work we put in the off-season of fighting and finishing and focusing on doing the little things over time; the whole group being one strong unit, getting the job done not individually. It shows up on the field, especially in the times that we need it."
KOEHN HONORED: Marshall Koehn was named the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday. The Iowa senior kicked a 57-yard field goal as time expired in a 27-24 win against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Koehn won the award for the first time. The Solon product was the first Hawkeye to capture the league’s special teams award since Mike Meyer in ’12.
RECRUITING RUMBLINGS: I was on the field for Saturday’s game and took photos of a large group of prospects in attendance. I posted them on the site. There were a lot of smiles.
Kinnick is a great environment, as many of you know. Couple that with the facilities and you’re two thirds of the way to capturing the affection of top targets. Winning, of course, is probably the most important piece.
I spoke with former Hawkeye Epenesa Epenesa, who was there with his son, A.J. Epenesa, one of the highest rated players in 2017. They clearly enjoyed themselves.
A.J. knows what the Hawkeyes are all about from multiple visits and years of his father’s stories. Continued winning will be necessary to pull him away from the nation’s top programs but the Hawkeyes added to his positive feelings about them on Saturday.
Florida DB K.J. Sails was all smiles on the field before kickoff during his official visit. He tweeted that he enjoyed himself following the stop and got a selfie with Coach Kirk Ferentz.
— DoItFor6????? (@KJ2LiVE) September 20, 2015
Ferentz stopped to talk to Sails and A.J. Epenesa on his way to the sideline.
St. Louis power forward Tyler Cook also took his official visit. He arrived on the field with the entire Iowa coaching staff, junior Peter Jok, ’18 verbal Joe Wieskamp and ’19 Patrick McCaffery, head coach Fran McCaffery’s son who’s expected to play for his father.
Cook and his parents seemed at ease with the coaches. They looked especially amused by assistant Sherman Dillard dancing to pre-game music.
We hope to have stories on these guys and some of the 2017 football recruits in the coming days and weeks. Our goal is to create recruiting pieces that go beyond the prospects saying they loved the stadium, environment, coaches and players. Rarely do they say otherwise and that content is mind-numbing.