Drake Kulick and Josey Jewell expect not only a tear-free, fan-filled Senior Day, they also expect to deal with an improving Purdue football team on Saturday.
That and more are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10, your daily dose of Iowa football news and notes.
1. There’s no crying in football.
At least not on Senior Day.
At least not if you’re related to Drake Kulick.
The Iowa senior fullback from Muscatine plays his final home game on Saturday when the Hawkeyes host Purdue at 2:30 p.m. Kulick will join 17 other seniors in being honored on the field prior to the start of the game, joining his parents Leo and Teresa on the field for the traditional ceremony.
From a walk-on to a starter, he considers it a time to celebrate.
“I don’t know about sad, probably more bittersweet than anything. I love playing in Kinnick. I think that could be said for all of the seniors. It’s truly a special place,’’ Kulick said.
He looks forward to sharing the moment as long they abide by his rules.
“I told my mom, don’t cry,’’ Kulick said. “I don’t like when people cry. I know my dad is going to be fine, but I’m serious, don’t cry.’’
2. Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell is looking forward to Senior Day, too, nearly as much as his 91-year-old grandmother Rosie who will watch her grandson play in person at Kinnick Stadium for the first time in his college career this week.
Rosie told her grandson she is looking forward to watching her favorite Hawkeye play – Bo Bower.
“She called me yesterday and told me about it,’’ Jewell said. “At the end of the call, she said, ‘Make sure you say hi to Bo.’ She’s cool. It’ll be cool to have her there. Hopefully, she enjoys it and doesn’t get too cold.’’
Bower met Rosie on a trip to Jewell’s family farm near Decorah, Iowa, a couple of years ago.
3. Iowa expects to see an improving Purdue team on Saturday.
The Boilermakers have held their last three opponents – Nebraska, Illinois and Northwestern – to fewer than 100 yards rushing and has not allowed any of its last six opponents to reach the end zone more than twice.
Michigan was the last team to accomplish that, using a strong second half to earn a 28-10 win over Purdue on Sept. 23.
4. Elijah Sindelar, who replaced injured David Blough as Purdue’s quarterback for last week’s game at Northwestern, isn’t afraid to put the ball in the air.
Sindelar completed 37-of-60 passes for 376 yards in the Boilermakers’ 23-13 loss to the Wildcats.
His work impressed Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.
“I’m sure they’d feel better having (Blough) out there, but this guy (Sindelar) is really throwing the ball well,’’ Ferentz said. “He runs it better than you might think he can, so he can run it and throw it. And they throw it all over the place.’’
5. With David Blough out for the season, Purdue’s back-up quarterback is now also a starting receiver.
Jared Sparks worked out Tuesday with the Boilermakers’ starting offensive group as a quarterback, according the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
That was expected as starter Elijah Sindelar was given a day of rest after attempting 60 passes in Purdue’s 23-13 loss at Northwestern, a game which saw Sparks catch 11 passes for 130 yards.
Sparks said he is prepared to play wherever he is needed against Iowa this week or against Indiana next week in the team’s regular-season finale.
“I’m ready for it. I’ve said since day one I’m ready to play either quarterback or receiver,’’ Sparks to the Journal & Courier. “I love the game of football and whatever the coach needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.’’
He went on to say that Sindelar is expected to return to practice today.
6. A receiver playing quarterback in practice is among the reasons Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz casts a wary eye toward the Boilermakers and their approach on offense.
“They’ve been very diverse,’’ Ferentz said. “You’re not sure what you’re going to get each week. They’re not afraid to pull something out their hat, too, at any time, so you’ve just got to be on edge at all times.’’
7. Iowa hasn’t returned a punt in its last two games and changes could be forthcoming.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said he is keeping an open mind this week as he studies Iowa punt returners leading up to the Purdue game.
That comes after a pair of punts skipped past Matt VandeBerg during Saturday’s loss at Wisconsin, both resulting in more than 15 extra yards of field positon for the Badgers.
“Matt missed a little practice time a week ago, so that doesn’t make the challenge easier for him,’’ Ferentz said. “There’s a real art to it, too, but it helps to be out there every day and get the practice and all that kind of stuff.’’
VandeBerg is listed as the Hawkeyes’ starter for this week’s game at Purdue, while true freshman Max Cooper is the back up.
8. Ten weeks into the season, Iowa’s schedule ranks as the seventh strongest in the country according to TeamRankings.com.
The first 10 opponents the Hawkeyes have played this season have a combined record of 67-33.
That includes a 20-10 record by Iowa’s three nonconference opponents.
Wyoming and North Texas are both 7-3 while Iowa State has a 6-4 record. Neither of the final two opponents on the Iowa schedule are above .500. Both Purdue and Nebraska are currently 4-6.
9. Much like Iowa under Kirk Ferentz, first-year Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is known for his teams playing their best football in November.
The Boilermakers won their first November game since 2012 this season when they defeated Illinois 29-10 on Nov. 4.
That ended a string of 17 straight losses during the final month of the season by an average margin of 20.7 points with only five of those games settled by a touchdown or less.
Including last week’s loss at Northwestern, Brohm-coached teams at Purdue and Western Kentucky have combined for an 11-2 record in November games.
10. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley didn’t feel like Wisconsin did anything special to take Hawkeye tight ends out of the passing game.
After combining for nine catches against Ohio State, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson collected one pass against the Badgers.
“They just put a lot of pressure on us,’’ Stanley said. “Their cornerbacks and safeties are pretty good. They did a great job at playing them single coverage.’’