What do Opie Taylor and James Vandenberg have in common? Find out in today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10, your daily dose of Iowa football news, notes and happenings.
The 10 @ 10 appears weekdays at approximately 10 a.m. at Hawkmania.com, updating you on the Hawkeyes, the Big Ten and Iowa’s upcoming opponents.
Here is today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10:
1. Kirk Ferentz isn’t fooled.
He sees a competitive side to quarterback James Vandenberg that belies his youthful looks.
“He gives you that Opie look, whatever Opie’s last name was,’’ Ferentz said, referring to television character Opie Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show.
“Looks a bit like Opie and acts like him, but I think it’s all an act. He’s a nitty-gritty tough guy. There’s no question in my mind and I think his teammates have always seen him that way.’’
Ferentz points to a throw that Vandenberg made to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in last week’s win at Purdue as an example.
“To me, if a quarterback can’t do that you’re going to have a hard time winning,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s not much fun. I read one of his quotes where he said he didn’t see much of the action once the ball came out. That’s part of being a quarterback. It isn’t always going to be pretty, not always going to be nice. It takes a lot of courage to stand in there and throw the ball and know you’re going to get nailed.’’
Vandenberg now leads the Big Ten with his average of 238.5 passing yards per game, nearly 10 yards ahead of Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins.
The junior from Keokuk, Iowa, has just one question about the reference to the 1960s television show.
“Who’s Opie? I don’t know what he’s talking about,’’ Vandenberg said.
2. Iowa did its research before developing a practice plan for this week’s game with Nebraska.
Because the Hawkeyes have not dealt with a six-day turnaround from one game to the next before, coaches talked with coaches at three other institutions which had dealt with the quicker-than-usual turnarounds in previous seasons.
“Two of them shared practices schedules with us, exactly what they did, and the other one gave us a pretty good description,’’ Ferentz said. “Everybody’s approach is a little bit different. We picked and chose what would fit us best.’’
Ferentz likes what he has seen from his team early this week.
“So far, we’re comfortable. We’ve still got a lot of work to do,’’ he said. “We won’t have any excuses on Friday. If we don’t play well, it won’t be because of this week. I think we’re in good shape there and I think our players are in good mental spirit.’’
3. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David was named Tuesday as one of five finalists for the 2011 Butkus Award, presented annually to college football’s top linebacker.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose team faces the Cornhuskers on Friday, said David is as good as advertised.
“He’s extremely productive, can really run,’’ Ferentz said. “He’s like a big DB playing linebacker. I think he was a DB at one point. I think they’re reporting him at 225, 230, but he plays strong and he can really cover ground.
“You talk about their defense and they have a lot of guys who can really move. You’ve got to work really hard because they can get there.’’
David is joined on the list of finalists by Dont’a Hightower of Alabama, Courtney Upshaw of Alabama, Jarvis Jones of Georgia, Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame.
4. Nebraska safety Austin Cassidy is one in a long line of walk-ons who have earned a chance to start for the Cornhuskers during their careers.
The Lincoln, Neb., native plays his final home game Friday against Iowa and unlike some teammates who have come from across the country to be part of the Nebraska program, he understands the rivalry that is beginning.
“Most people on our team get that this is a big game,’’ Cassidy said. “Anytime you play someone in close proximity, it will be that way. There are a lot of people who care. It’s a bigger deal to most of us that playing Colorado, Kansas State or KU was. Iowa’s right there, across the border, and they’re a good program.’’
5. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini believes the series between the Cornhuskers and Hawkeyes will develop into a good one over time.
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“Right now, it is still pretty new to everybody, but geographically, they are right next door and a lot of people who grew up in Iowa live in Nebraska and vise versa. It makes for a natural rivalry that I think is only going to get better,’’ Pelini said.
6. With the exception of injured reserve running back Jordan Canzeri, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said his team is healthy for Friday’s game at Nebraska.
“We’re about as healthy as we’ve been really since going into that Michigan game when we started to turn the corner a little bit,’’ Ferentz said.
7. Fox Sports has announced the announcing team for its telecast of the inaugural Big Ten Championship game.
Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster will work both the Pac-12 title game on Dec. 2 and the Big Ten final on Dec. 3.
8. It was 20 years ago today that Matt Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, including a pair to Danan Hughes, on snow-covered field at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa beat Minnesota that day in 1991 by a 23-8 score, the first time significant snow fell on a game day in Iowa City since 1957.
The Hawkeyes celebrated a milestone that day as well. The win was the 100th at Iowa for coach Hayden Fry.
9. Weekend outcomes will have a lot to say about the destination, but Iowa is now accepting orders for bowl tickets.
Orders will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2 at hawkeyesports.com or in person at the Iowa athletic ticket office for tickets to any of six bowls that the Hawkeyes could potentially play in.
Iowa’s season ticket priority will be used in distributing tickets and credit cards will not be charged until Iowa accepts a bid. Some bowls do limit the number of tickets that fans can order. Unlike in recent years, Iowa will not add a surcharge to tickets purchased through the athletic department.
10. The National I-Club at the Iowa Alumni Association will host a Hawkeye Huddle in Lincoln, Neb., prior to Friday’s game.
The event will be held from 8-10 a.m. at the Pershing Center, 226 Centennial Mall South, in Lincoln, located one mile from Memorial Stadium.
Admission is free and cash refreshments will be available in addition to snacks, door prizes and appearances by cheerleaders and Herky.