From involving tight ends like T.J. Hockenson to breaking in new helmets and preparing to play error-free defense, today’s Hawkeye 10@10 has found its comfort zone.
All that and more are 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. Iowa threw a number of three tight end sets at the Buckeyes the last time the teams met during the 2013 season, helping the Hawkeyes to a halftime lead before Ohio State rallied.
Redshirt freshman T.J. Hockenson would love more of the same in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game between the Hawkeyes and third-rated Buckeyes at Kinnick Stadium.
“The more tights on the field, the better,’’ Hockenson said. “Those are my guys and whatever we can do to help the team win, we’re ready to do.’’
Hockenson is currently fifth among Hawkeyes with 14 receptions for 201 yards.
His average of 14.4 yards per catch is topped only by Noah Fant and Matt VandeBerg among Iowa receivers with more than two catches this season.
2. Iowa players have been breaking in their new helmets this week in practice – trying to get used to that new helmet smell, presumably.
“It gives us a chance to break them in a bit,’’ running back James Butler said. “The padding on these helmets is a lot more comfortable and soft that the ones we usually wear.”
The Hawkeyes do seem to like not only the look, but the fit of the gray helmets with a black Tigerhawk logo on one side and their numbers on the other.
“They’re pretty sick,’’ running back Akrum Wadley said.
For those of you born before 1990, that’s a good thing.
3. How good has Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett been this season?
Since the Buckeyes’ loss to Oklahoma in the second week of the season, Barrett has competed 75 percent of his passes and he arrives at Kinnick Stadium having completed his last 16 passes including all 13 he attempted in the fourth quarter of Ohio State’s 39-38 win over Penn State last weekend.
The senior is averaging 326.9 passing yards per game and currently has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of any quarterback in the country, throwing 25 touchdown passes this season with just one interception during the Buckeyes’ 7-1 start.
4. Josey Jewell joins his teammates in believing there will be a premium on execution Saturday against an Ohio State offense that ranks second in the country in scoring and yards.
“They have such good skill players,’’ Jewell said. “They’re running backs are fast and make plays that if you miss, they can make you look pretty foolish if you make a mistake.’’
5. Iowa’s defense ranks third in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in scoring defense, allowing 17.4 points per game.
The Hawkeyes have held seven of their eight opponents below their scoring average.
For the season, Iowa has held those opponents an average of 11.1 points below their scoring average.
6. Former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson is Ohio State’s first-year offensive coordinator and that has had Hawkeye coaches studying not only the Buckeyes but also the tendencies that Wilson’s Hoosiers teams had against Iowa in the most recent match-ups between the teams.
“There are some parallels there from what we saw when we played Indiana, whenever that was, probably ’15,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “So, you go off your memory bank and you are always looking at what they are doing off the tape. The challenge is to get ready for this team right now.’’
7. From his view in Columbus, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer appreciates the consistency of the Iowa program under Kirk Ferentz, saying his “consistency is impeccable.’’
Meyer said he values the approach Ferentz takes in shaping his program.
“So many people change and are always grasping for different ways of doing things. He’s as consistent, tough as you can get,’’ Meyer said.
8. Saturday will be the third time that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has faced an Urban Meyer-led team.
The Buckeyes won a 34-24 game at Ohio State in 2013, and Meyer-coached Florida defeated Iowa 31-24 in the 2006 Outback Bowl.
One play from that game in Tampa still sticks out in Ferentz’s mind.
The Gators ran a fake punt from their own 19-yard line in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-one play that moved the chains.
“That’s a head coach’s call right there,’’ Ferentz said. “I mean, that’s filed away.’’
9. The only Ohio natives on the Iowa depth chart this week are among Iowa’s four captains for Saturday’s game.
Center James Daniels and right guard Sean Welsh, natives of the Ohio cities of Warren and Springboro, will join defensive representative Josey Jewell and special teams rep Kevin Ward on the center of the field for the pregame coin toss.
Saturday’s game will be the only time Daniels and Welsh will likely face the Buckeyes during their college careers.
The teams are not scheduled to meet again until Iowa visits Ohio State on Oct. 10, 2020.
10. The Big Ten Network’s BTN Tailgate will broadcast from Hubbard Park on the Iowa campus on Saturday.
The telecast runs from 9-11 a.m. and is designed to capture the game-day environment on campus with fan interaction, special guests and football analysis.
Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo, Anthony Adams, Michelle McMahon and Stanley Jackson have been hosting the season-long series each week from on-campus sites around the Big Ten.
Hubbard Park is located in front of the Iowa Memorial Union and west of the Pentacrest on the east side of the Iowa River.