Break out the glue. The Hawkeyes are looking for cohesion as they prepare for Saturday’s Big Ten opener against fourth-ranked Penn State.
That, along with depth chart changes, where Nick Easley ranks among Big Ten receivers and a weekend honor for Chad Greenway at Kinnick, are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10, your daily dose of Iowa news and notes.
Delivered each weekday at 10 a.m. at Hawkmania.com, your home for all things Iowa, here is today’s Hawkeye 10@10:
1. There are only minimal changes on the Iowa depth chart for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game against Penn State.
The only change in the lineup comes at free safety, where Amani Hooker moves into the starting role in place of Jake Gervase.
That follows Hooker’s move into the spot after the first quarter of Saturday’s game against North Texas.
Gervase is listed as the back-up to Miles Taylor at strong safety this week.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said following Saturday’s game that a rotation of players is likely at the safety spots, saying that all three are essentially even.
The only other change this week reflects James Butler’s absence as the back-up running back. Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin share the second team spot on the depth chart.
2. If Iowa has mastered anything through the first three games of the season, coach Kirk Ferentz has a good idea of what that might be.
“We’re three for three digging holes. We’re pretty good at that,’’ Ferentz said. “These guys fight through it and play through it. I trace that back to January. The attitude has been really good with this team since January. The thing I’m happy about is I know we could improve a lot more, but I would be a little happier if we could pick up the pace on that one.’’
3. As Penn State prepares for Iowa, coach James Franklin is looking for his team to grow its defense against the run.
Following Saturday’s 56-0 win over Georgia State, Franklin listed that among areas where the Nittany Lions must improve.
“I’d like us to be a little bit more physical, stopping the run game,’’ Franklin said. “… People are getting the ball out their hands pretty quickly against us, kind of throwing the ball into the fly or the seams real quick. You’d love to see more sacks, but that has to do with the style of offenses we’ve been seeing.’’
Franklin said offensively he believes the Penn State running game must become more effective, something he believes will become a byproduct of sustaining blocks longer.
4. Coach Kirk Ferentz was generally pleased with the performance of Iowa’s new-look offensive front in the win over North Texas.
Injuries forced the Hawkeyes to start their sixth different offensive line combination in six games, opening with redshirt freshman Alaric Jackson at left tackle, senior Boone Myers at left guard, juniors James Daniels at center and Keegan Render at right guard and senior Sean Welsh at right tackle.
Ferentz said the shuffling, a result of the season-ending Achilles injury suffered by Ike Boettger, has impacted Iowa’s continuity.
“I think some of the hiccups we saw in the first half, pass protection, some stuff there, usually if a guy comes through unscathed that means we blew something and I think we had a couple of those,’’ Ferentz said. “I don’t want to blame it on the rotation stuff, but we have to do a better job of getting cohesive.’’
Ferentz ranks that among Iowa’s biggest challenges as it prepares for its Big Ten opener.
“We’ve got to be more cohesive playing together. It’s no different than a basketball team. If you play seven, eight guys, guys have to rotate, but they have to know each other’s moves,’’ Ferentz said. “The other thing, it leaves you pretty thin. We’re getting thin here.’’
5. Nick Easley has become quarterback Nate Stanley’s go-to guy.
The junior college transfer has led the Hawkeyes in receiving in all three games this season, including a game-high five catches in Saturday’s win over North Texas.
The walk-on from Iowa Western Community College currently ranks sixth in the Big Ten with an average of 5.3 receptions per game.
Easley has caught 16 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns during Iowa’s 3-0 start.
6. Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said improved cohesion will be a necessity as Iowa prepares for Penn State.
“I want to be gap sound, everybody, all seven of us up front have to be in the right gaps,’’ Jewell said following Saturday’s win over North Texas. “If we do that and our communication is good, we’re going to have a good chance.’’
7. The starting time for Iowa’s game at Michigan State on Sept. 30 was announced Monday.
The game at Spartan Stadium is set for a 3 p.m. (CDT) kickoff and it will be televised by FOX.
8. Former Hawkeye all-American linebacker Chad Greenway will be honored Saturday as the sixth player named to the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium.
The wall honors former Iowa football players who exemplify the tenacity, work ethic and character of the Iowa farmer.
Greenway will be introduced on the field during Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game against Penn State and participate in an autograph session that will also include former Hawkeyes Marvin McNutt, Kevonte Martin-Manley and James Vandenberg.
That session is among family-friendly activities that will take place at the Iowa Farm Bureau ANF Legends Tent in Krause Family Plaza adjacent to Kinnick Stadium beginning at 1 p.m.
9. Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook and Minnesota defensive back Jacob Huff were named Monday as the offensive and defensive players of the week in the Big Ten.
Hornibrook completed 18-of-19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns in the Badgers’ victory at BYU.
His completion percentage of 94.7 percent rates as the best in Big Ten history by any quarterback attempting at least 13 passes in a game.
Huff returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown and had four tackles and a pass break up in the Golden Gophers’ win over Middle Tennessee State.
Michigan’s Quinn Nordin was named the Big Ten special teams player of the week after hitting a school-record five field goals in a win over Air Force.
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins and Rutgers quarterback Johnathan Lewis shared Big Ten freshman of the week honors.
Dobbins rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Army while Lewis rushed for four scores and threw for a fifth in a win over Morgan State.
10. The end zone was familiar territory last weekend for two Hawkeye recruits.
Samson Evans of Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge in Illinois and Henry Geil of Green Bay Preble in Wisconsin both rushed for five touchdowns to lead their teams to wins, highlighting the work of members of the Hawkeyes’ 2018 recruiting class.
Evans rushed for 222 yards and collected his five touchdowns in the first half of a 56-14 win over Crystal Lake South, while Geil ran for 142 yards for Preble in its 49-7 victory over Sheboygan South.
Elsewhere, Oswego defensive tackle Noah Shannon had three sacks in a 35-0 win over Plainfield East in Illinois, wide receiver Tyrone Tracy rushed for 109 yards and had two catches for 23 yards for Indianapolis Decatur Central in its 63-7 win over Mooresville and defensive back recruits D.J. Johnson of Indianapolis North Central and Terry Roberts of Erie Cathedral Prep in Pennsylvania each recorded an interception.