IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz said after Saturday’s win at Indiana that dealing with increased attention for the program becomes more difficult each week. Tuesday, the Iowa Coach changed his tune a bit.
“It seems to me that maybe we’re over the initial wave, if you will, over the last couple weeks. Right now I think it seems like we’re down to business. It doesn’t seem to be as much distraction or what have you. I haven’t really paid too close attention on the outside, but it seems like things have died down a little bit. It’s been interesting to say the least,” he said.
Ferentz prefaced his comments by saying he was speaking for himself. And he and the coaches historically have lived in more of a bubble than do their players, who mingle with the public on campus and are apt to watch more TV shows focusing on their 9-0 start.
“Obviously it’s tough because everyone is talking about it, especially when you go to class and people are always asking you about it and whatnot,” Junior Running Back LeShun Daniels said. “But we try hard to focus on this week and this week’s game. Coach Ferentz does a good job of keeping us focused on the team we’re playing that week and not focusing on the outside big picture.”
Minnesota comes to sold out Kinnick Stadium for a night game (7 p.m. CT, BTN). The Hawkeyes will try to reclaim Floyd of Rosedale after being blown out last season in Minneapolis, 51-14. It has them focused this week.
“That was embarrassing,” Sophomore Running Back Akrum Wadley said. “That’s not how we do things around here. We want revenge. We’re hungry. Just like they’re licking their chops to get at us, we’re licking our chops to get back at them.”
Iowa has done a good job of avenging tough losses from a year ago. It’s flipped the outcome against Iowa State, Wisconsin and Maryland already.
The ability to respect and prepare for each opponent is an approach every team wants to take. The Hawkeyes are able to put it into action, which isn’t easy.
That mule-with-blinders-on mentality continued to be tested again on Tuesday here at the football performance center. ESPN and Sports Illustrated attended the press gathering showing that this thing has gone national.
“I think we have a good group of guys, a good group of leaders that bring guys back down to earth and understand that we still have places that we want to go and things that we want to do and we can’t do them without winning on Saturday,” Team Captain Austin Blythe said.
INJURY UPDATE: Ferentz said that running back Jordan Canzeri (ankle) has looked good in practice this week and was on track to play against Minnesota. He’s been sidelined since the first half of the Northwestern game on Oct. 17. He returned to practice last Wednesday and dressed at Indiana but did not play.
“He’s been able to practice pretty efficiently and well, so happy about that,” Ferentz said.
Ike Boettger, who injured his ankle against Illinois on Oct. 10 and has been out of the lineup since then, is questionable to play against the Gophers, Ferentz said.
“Ike Boettger is making good progress, so we’ll know more after (Wednesday’s practice), see what it looks like, but it looks like he’s getting in a position where he can help us out, as well, so happy about that part of it,” the coach said.
Wadley injured his ankle at Indiana. The sophomore said Tuesday he would play against Minnesota despite being limited in practice this week. Ferentz said that remained to be seen.
“Hopefully Akrum will be ready to go. We’ll know that on Friday or Saturday. If he can’t, he can’t, and we’ve certainly been down that road a couple times this year,” the coach said.
Receiver Tevaun Smith withstood a hard hit from Indiana Linebacker T.J. Simmons that resulted in the Hoosier’s ejection for targeting. Most of the impact was delivered to the back, although Smith said he was hit the head as well and dazed.
“He was sore on Sunday as you might imagine, but it was all basically in the area that he got hit, that’s where his soreness was. He’s improved each day. Looked good today. Not much fun, but that’s part of the game, too. When you play football, you’re going to have some tough Sundays,” Ferentz said.
RESPECTING THE COMPETITION: Ferentz praised former Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill, who retired last month as a result of seizures caused by epilepsy.
“He’s a tremendous man, a tremendous football coach, and our game is going to miss him,” the Iowa Coach said. “Certainly the players that had an opportunity to work with him I think would echo that, as would his staff. Just all of us were very, very saddened by that news, and give our best to him certainly.”
Kill, 54, won at every level and became a head coach a Saginaw Valley State in 1994. He worked his way up the ladder, building recognizable programs at Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Minnesota during the last 15 years.
“He’s taken jobs that weren’t necessarily great jobs and turned them into good jobs, too. I mean, every place he’s gone it’s been better,” Ferentz said. “But I think the thing I’m probably most impressed with is just the way they’ve operated as a staff. Staff has gone with him for the majority every place they’ve been.”
Longtime Assistant Tracy Claeys replaced Kill on an interim basis. Despite losing close games to Michigan and Ohio State, the Gophers have remained competitive and physical, the way Kill built them.
ALTERNATIVE LOOK: The Hawkeyes will break out the long-anticipated “Blackout” uniforms for Saturday’s game. The players said they saw them earlier this week but were not allowed to take photos. The coaches just wanted to expose them to the new gear so they could move on and focus on the game.
“I haven’t played in a different uniform here and it should be sweet. They showed us a sneak peek and they look sweet. I always say if you look good you’re going to play good,” Wadley said.
Ferentz came around on the alternative uniforms at the urging of just about everybody else associated with the program this off-season, he said. While the team has donned other outfits occasionally through the years, they’ve been throwbacks or to honor the military. The ones designed for Saturday were the new-age flash popular elsewhere around the country.
“I like the uniforms we’ve got, so to me why would you change them?” Ferentz said. “We’ve got classic uniforms, and there’s several teams in college football that do, so why would you change those. But we’re going to make an exception.
“It’s a fun thing, so what the heck. I’m not a fun killer, either. We’re all for it. If it makes us play better, then we may be in them next Saturday, too.”
QUICK-HITTERS: The 51 points Minnesota scored against the Hawkeyes represented the most it had tallied in the series since a 55-7 win in ’49…The Gophers are in the midst of playing 10 of 16 games against teams that were ranked in the AP Top 25…Minnesota announced Tuesday that CB/KR Jalen Myrick would miss the remainder of the season. He injured his ribs on the opening kickoff at Ohio State on Saturday…Iowa leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth nationally with a plus-11 turnover margin…The Hawkeyes have outscored opponents 50-16 in the first quarter and 37-0 in the last two minutes of the opening half this season.