Michigan’s running game and memories of a chilling performance in Ann Arbor a year ago, as well as an even chillier forecast for Saturday, are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10, your daily dose of Iowa news and notes.
1. Michigan had an improved running performance last week at Northwestern despite the absence of starter Fitzgerald Toussaint, whose status for Saturday’s game at Iowa remains undetermined.
On Monday, coach Brady Hoke said Fitzgerald did not play against the Wildcats after suffering a concussion earlier in the week.
Hoke said the reason Toussaint didn’t play was more about missed practice time than it was about the concussion. He expects the fifth-year senior to practice throughout this week, but pleased with the performance of freshmen Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith at Northwestern he welcomes the chance to have to sort things out later this week.
“I think we’ll have a pretty good decision to make at the end of the week,’’ Hoke said. “Fitz has done so good at some things over the last three years. So, there’s a fit for all three of them.’’
2. Memories of last season’s 42-17 loss at Michigan still haunt many Iowa football players.
“We didn’t show up that day, we weren’t ready to go,’’ linebacker James Morris said.
Linebacker Christian Kirksey said the Hawkeyes have tried “not to dwell on last year,’’ but he said last year’s loss was hard to forget.
“We didn’t go there ready to compete,’’ Kirksey said. “That is in our minds’ now, a new challenge to see how much we’ve changed in the last year.’’
3. The Hawkeyes’ four losses this season are to teams which have a combined record of 37-3.
Northern Illinois and Ohio State are both 10-0, Michigan State is now 9-1 and Wisconsin sits at 8-2 including a loss to the Buckeyes.
4. Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan joked Monday that Iowa’s pink locker room at Kinnick Stadium “keeps it mellow.’’
“It’s a light pink, not a dark pink or anything like that. Every away locker room that we visit has its own little quirks,’’ Lewan said. “Michigan State has a smiley face when you walk down and Iowa has pink locker rooms. The game is not played in the locker room. If it was, it would be a very calm and soothing game.’’
5. Linebacker James Morris has enjoyed a close-up view of the improvements made by the Iowa defensive line this season.
“They’ve gotten better every week and I felt coming into the season like they would be good and it has played out that way,’’ Morris said.
He said that has helped Iowa’s linebackers compete.
“They’re putting us in a position to make plays with the way they are doing their job on a consistent basis,’’ Morris said.
6. Saturday will be the last game at Kinnick Stadium for Christian Kirksey among a number of Hawkeye seniors.
It’s something that the linebacker isn’t thinking about just yet.
“It’s gone fast, but right now it is just the next game,’’ Kirksey said. “I’m sure that will change when it gets closer, and it will be a tough deal, but right now it is just the next game to get ready for.’’
7. Iowa may be bowl eligible, but offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten said the Hawkeyes still have room for growth.
“I think we’ve made steps in the right direction this season, but we’re not as good as we can be and we never will be there,’’ Van Sloten said. “All we can do is work to improve. We need to get an edge to our game right now and that’s something we are working on.’’
8. Mark Weisman is going for more of an aerodynamic look.
The Iowa running back showed up after the Hawkeyes’ last game at Purdue sporting a new buzz cut.
He said it was a matter of more than maintenance.
“I’m losing my hair a little bit, so it looks better like this,’’ Weisman reasoned following the game.
9. Michigan kicker Brandon Gibbons will arrive at Kinnick Stadium this week as the reigning Big Ten special teams player of the week.
The senior forced overtime with a 44-yard field goal as time expired in regulation in the Wolverines’ win at Northwestern on Saturday, one of four field goals he hit in the three-overtime game.
Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Ryan Shazier were named the Big Ten’s offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively. Hyde rushed for a career-high 246 yards and scored five touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ win at Illinois, while Shazier had a career-high 16 tackles in the 60-35 win.
Wisconsin’s Corey Clement was named the Big Ten freshman of the week after finishing with 108 yards on 11 carries in a win over Indiana.
10. The weather forecast for Iowa City on Saturday seems to be getting a bit worse by the day.
The National Weather Service is now calling for a high of 25 degrees and blustery conditions with winds in excess of 20 miles per hour. There is also a chance of snow in the forecast for Friday night.