Happy hump day and welcome to the Hawkeye 10 @ 10, your daily dose of Iowa football news, notes and happenings.
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The 10 @ 10 appears weekdays at approximately 10 a.m. at Hawkmania.com, updating you on the Hawkeyes, the Big Ten and Iowa’s upcoming opponents.
Here is today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10:
1. The decision to moved Dominic Alvis to a starting spot at defensive end for last week’s game with Pittsburgh involved more than wanting to put Alvis’ high-energy approach to the game on the edge of Iowa’s defensive line.
The sophomore started the first two games at a tackle spot, but was also listed as a back-up at the end position.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said coaches simply decided to simplify things for Alvis.
“I think probably our biggest thinking was, with a young player, just get him settled at one spot, see if he can focus on one thing and see if that would help make his production a little bit better,’’ Ferentz said.
“That’s kind of the driving force right there. Tom Nardo has been doing a good job in practice and Tom really played a good game the other day. I think that helps. I think with the combination of Dominic and Lebron (Daniel) out there, I think that gives us two guys to split the duties.’’
Ferentz was pleased with what he saw from Alvis.
“He did some good things out there, so that was encouraging,’’ Ferentz said.
2. Louisiana-Monroe junior Brent Leonard has been nicknamed “The Wiz’’ by his teammates.
Some of it has to do their belief that he resembles mythical character Harry Potter. Some of it has to do with the wide receiver’s ability to catch the football.
A former walk-on, Leonard caught 13 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown last weekend at TCU. The 13 catches are the third most by a player in NCAA play this season and the second most in a single game in school history.
Leonard finished tied for fourth in the NCAA last season with four first-down catches on fourth downs. Three other players finished in a tie for first with five first-down catches on fourth-down plays.
Overall, Leonard grabbed 33 passes for 378 yards last season including 21 catches which moved the chains.
3. Linebacker Bruce Davis’ decision to leave the Iowa program caught at least one teammate by surprise.
Senior lineman Mike Daniels did not know that it had been announced a day earlier that Davis had opted to forego the final weeks of his senior season until he was asked by a reporter during Tuesday’s news conference about the situation.
“It’s always hard to lose a teammate, to have somebody leave for whatever reason,’’ Daniels said. “It’s a bummer.’’
Coach Kirk Ferentz shed little light on why the second-team middle linebacker opted to call it a career.
“It’s his choice. I told my wife shortly into my time at Maine that if I ever came home surprised about anything, just hit me with a bat,’’ Ferentz said.
“I respect him for coming in and telling me how he felt. It’s time to move on. I wish him the best.’’
Davis, coming off of an ACL injury suffered a year ago last weekend, had seen minimal minutes.
His departure reduces the depth Iowa has at linebacker. Starting outside linebacker Tyler Nielsen is now listed as the back-up to James Morris at middle linebacker.
4. Expect to see a little more of true freshman running back Damon Bullock this weekend.
Bullock carried just once last weekend against Pittsburgh, gaining four yards while being stopped just short of the goal line.
Coach Kirk Ferentz is of the opinion that Bullock got into the end zone.
“In my mind, especially after looking at the replay, he’ll be in there,’’ Ferentz said. “He’ll definitely be in there, he’s full speed ahead.’’
5. One of the reasons Big Ten officials are in no hurry to throw themselves into the latest conference expansion frenzy is that the league already has the three most popular college football programs in the country.
At least that is what a nationally-known statistician determined in an article published by the New York Times this week.
Using data from television ratings, census information and Google searches, Nate Silver determined that Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are the most popular college football programs. Silver, best known for his work with baseball and political statistics, determined that seven of the top 20 most-popular programs compete in the Big Ten.
Iowa checks in at No. 15, fifth among conference programs.
Here is his top 10, including the number of fans he determined for each program:
1. Ohio State, 3.2 million
2. Michigan, 2.9 million
3. Penn State, 2.6 million
4. Notre Dame, 2.3 million
5. Texas, 2.3 million
6. Texas A&M, 2.0 million
7. Auburn, 1.9 million
8. Alabama, 1.9 million
9. Florida, 1.8 million
10. Clemson, 1.8 millon
Wisconsin ranks 12th in his analysis, with Iowa at 15th followed by Nebraska (18), Michigan State (20), Illinois (27), Minnesota (28), Indiana (44), Purdue (46) and Northwestern (54). The survey ranks Iowa State at 52nd.
6. Michigan State’s offensive line is taking more of a hit this week than initially anticipated.
Coach Mark Dantonio announced Monday that the season has ended for right tackle Skyler Burkhead because of an injury.
Tuesday, Dantonio said that starting center Blake Treadwell and second-tam tackle Jared McGaha will both miss this weekend’s game with Central Michigan because of knee sprains.
7. Iowa’s Big Ten-opening foe Penn State is one of three teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision that has not completed a single touchdown pass through the first three weekends of the season.
Quarterbacks Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin continue to both see action for the Nittany Lions and will until one separates himself from the other, coach Joe Paterno said.
“If I felt the team was more comfortable with one than the other, that obviously would be a factor,’’ Paterno said. “But, that’s not the way it is.’’
Besides Penn State, Central Florida and San Jose State are still waiting to complete their first touchdown pass of the season.
8. This is Todd Berry’s second season as the head coach at Louisiana-Monroe, elevated to the position a year ago after working in his second stint as the offensive coordinator at the Sun Belt Conference school.
Berry’s team went 5-7 a year ago and he is currently in his 10th season as a head coach.
He spent four years as the head coach at Illinois State, where he turned the program around and led the Redbirds to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals in 1999. He left the Normal, Ill., campus after that season to become the head coach at Army. Berry coached four seasons there.
He has also spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator at UNLV, spent the 2006 season as the quarterback coach at Miami (Fla.) and was the offensive coordinator at East Carolina for four seasons.
Berry has also worked as an assistant at Tulsa, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Tennessee-Martin, Mississippi State and Southeast Missouri State. He is a 1983 graduate of Tulsa.
9. Iowa still has tickets available for Saturday’s game.
Returned from Louisiana-Monroe’s allotment, tickets can be purchased in person at the Iowa athletic ticket office at Carver-Hawkeye Arena or online at hawkeyesports.com.
All seven Hawkeye home games this season are expected to sell out.
10. For the fourth time in four games, there will no changes in the captains Iowa send onto the field for Saturday’s coin flip.
Marvin McNutt and James Vandenberg will represent the offense and Tyler Nielsen and Mike Daniels will represent the defense.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said he actually doesn’t select the captains. They’re picked by players on Iowa’s leadership committee.
“They’re the ones who vote every Sunday,’’ Ferentz said. “Sometimes they just kind of settle in, which it looks like so far that is what they have done. The common denominator, they’re all respected by their teammates, a peer group of about 15 there. It’s been pretty consistent and those four have separated themselves a little bit.’’