A must win? Kirk Ferentz isn’t buying it as Iowa prepares for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Northwestern.
To help you prepare, today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10, your daily 10 a.m. round up of Iowa news and notes at hawkmania.com, includes details of Riley McMinn working back from an injury, consistent kickers and a former Hawkeye who will be honored Saturday on America Needs Farmers Day at Kinnick Stadium.
Here is today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10:
1. Kirk Ferentz is not inclined to label games as “must wins’’ and while this appears to be a must-win situation for both teams that will take the field Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, Ferentz said Iowa’s approach remains unchanged from previous weeks.
“Basically, it’s all week to week,’’ he said. “A couple of weeks ago, the signs were going the other direction, the arrow was going way down. This week, maybe it’s going up, but to me, it’s week to week. You have to prepare and you have to play for 60 minutes. Teams that do that the best are the teams that typically successful. That will be our goal.’’
2. Northwestern had four passes batted down last week in its 20-17 loss to Minnesota and coach Pat Fitzgerald is concerned about that becoming an issue again, starting with the play of a line which has surrendered 22 sacks this season.
“We have to do a better job up front of getting guys’ hands down. Iowa is going to do a good job of that, too. You watch them, we have been going against each other for a long time and they do a great job, especially in the quick game of recognizing the three-step drop, reading the quarterback’s eyes and getting their hands up,’’ Fitzgerald said.
“They do a terrific job of that. Up front, their defensive line is outstanding and their front seven is as salty as there is in the conference. They do a great job, and we’re going to need to have a great job up front by the offensive line and finding windows where we can throw the football if we do throw the quick game.’’
3. Hawkeye defensive end Riley McMinn, out since the preseason with an injury, is working his way back into a competitive position as Iowa looks for help at a position where starter Dominic Alvis is expected to be out this week.
“He’s been practicing the last couple weeks,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s just coming off an injury and is competing for that four spot (a reserve role at defensive end). We’ll see how he practices this week.’’
Running back Michael Malloy continues to be sidelined by a preseason injury and Ferentz said he is not currently doing anything beyond rehabilitation work.
4. Two of the Big Ten’s most consistent kickers will be on the field Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien converted on a pair of PAT attempts to extend his string of successful tries to 127, one more than a previous Big Ten record of 126 set by Michigan’s J.J. Carlson from 1989-91 that was topped earlier this season by the Wolverines’ Brendan Gibbons who has an ongoing streak of 136.
Mike Meyer of Iowa currently owns the fifth-longest streak in Big Ten history, converting on his last 105 attempts.
Budzein has hit 12 of the 14 field goals he has attempted this season with a long of 43 yards.
5. Running back Mark Weisman doesn’t consider Iowa’s match-up with Northwestern to be anything special.
“It’s just another game to us. It’s big only because it’s the next game on the schedule for us,’’ Weisman said. “We know it’s going to be a battle. They’re a good football team, but it’s just another Big Ten game.’’
6. Northwestern piled up 349 yards on the ground against Iowa a year ago and coach Kirk Ferentz said the defensive issues which led to that have been areas that Hawkeyes heard a lot about during the offseason.
“Any time you give up that kind of yardage, obviously you’ve got some problems just in terms of guys being in the right positions, keeping leverage, missed tackles, those types of things,’’ Ferentz said.
7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald likes what he has seen from his team’s offense when it has played with a sense of urgency, but has seen the Wildcats struggle at other times.
During his weekly news conference, Fitzgerald referenced a play that failed in the Minnesota loss because two players failed to fulfill blocking responsibilities.
“That’s when a Picasso looks like puke,’’ he said. “Those are the types of things we have to fix.’’
Northwestern ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring, eighth in rushing offense at 175.7 yards per game and fifth in passing at 244.1 yards per game.
8. Iowa now finds itself tied with Alabama and Florida State for fewest rushing touchdowns allowed this season.
Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde ran for a pair of scores against Iowa on Saturday, the first allowed by the Hawkeyes this season. Iowa opponents had rushed 215 consecutive times without reaching the end zone before Hyde crossed the goal line in the third quarter.
9. Iowa senior James Morris was named Wednesday as one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
The award equally recognizes athletic performance and personal character and is given to the player who exhibits the same traits of Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity as the player it is named after.
Morris is one of five Big Ten players to make the list, joining Chris Borland of Wisconsin, Max Bullough of Michigan State, Ibraheim Campbell of Northwestern and Ryan Shazier of Ohio State.
10. Former Iowa football player Jared DeVries will be honored at Saturday’s game against Northwestern as the second inductee into the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor.
DeVries, a letterwinner at Iowa from 1995-98, played 12 seasons in the NFL for the Detroit Lions, grew up on an acreage near Parkersburg, Iowa and his name will be included on a wall located on the northwest corner of Kinnick Stadium.
The ANF program, initially started by Hayden Fry as way to recognize the contributions of farmers and farm families to the American economy, is now a joint venture of the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa athletics department.
Former Hawkeye Casey Wiegmann, who lettered from 1993-95 and went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, was selected for inclusion on the ANF Wall of Honor a year ago.