The clock is ticking toward Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. season opener and the Hawkeye 10@10 is here to get you ready.
Here is today’s 10 a.m. update – a weekday feature at Hawkmania.com throughout the season – as Iowa works toward Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. opener against Northern Illinois:
1. Mark Weisman figures the best way to help ease Jake Rudock into his starting quarterback’s role is to take care of business himself.
“It’s important that we handle our responsibilities and hold up our end of the deal,’’ the Iowa running back said Tuesday. “Jake has a real even keel and he’s going to do well. It’s up to us to play the same way.’’
2. Northern Illinois will be without its top returning running back Saturday.
Akeem Daniels, who rushed for 447 yards last season, will miss the Iowa game because of a foot injury which has kept him out through all of preseason camp. Daniels was also fifth on the team in receptions last season.
Cameron Stingily, who had one carry in 2012, is expected to start in place of Daniels.
3. A point of emphasis for the Iowa defensive line this preseason has been getting off the ball quicker than it did a year ago.
“Even if it’s a fraction of a second, it’s going to make a difference,’’ end Dominic Alvis said. “It’s something we’ve talked about and worked hard at and it is going to help put us in a position to make plays that much quicker.’’
4. LaShun Daniels is among a handful of true freshmen who will likely see action against Northern Illinois.
The running back has stood out since the start of fall camp and he joins junior-college transfer receiver Damond Powell as first-year Hawkeyes who will see the field this week.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said several other true freshmen on the defensive side of the ball could play, but no final decisions have been made.
“We’re still mulling a couple things over. We have a candidate or two, but we haven’t finalized that yet,’’ Ferentz said.
5. As the heat index topped out around 100 degrees Tuesday in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes put in their second workout this week in the first true blistering heat of summer.
“We put our faith in (strength and conditioning coach) Chris Doyle and the training staff,’’ linebacker James Morris said. “They’re the best and they have us prepared for this because of the way we have trained all year.’’
6. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch had a hand in 50 plays of 25 yards or longer last season, 37 passing and 13 rushing. Among those, he scored on four touchdown runs and threw six touchdown passes of at least 40 yards.
Among those was a 73-yard touchdown run against Iowa which left the Hawkeyes in a 17-9 hole after three quarters of its eventual 18-17 win over NIU.
7. Fans are encouraged to take the train to Kinnick Stadium again this season.
The Hawkeye Express transports fans from free parking lots near the Comfort Suites and Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville to a stop just outside of Kinnick Stadium.
The cost of a round-trip ticket is $12 for adults while children ages 12 and under can ride for free.
The train begins operation four hours prior to kickoff – at 10:30 a.m. this week – and return trips begin at the start of the fourth quarter and run for 90 minutes after the game.
8. Ferentz said he has been pleased with the work of Austin Blythe as he has settled into the starting role at center.
“I expected a few more bumps in the road back in the spring, but he just kind of slid in there and did a good job,’’ Ferentz said. “He’s not there yet, but he’ll keep getting better, but he has really performed well.’’
9. Ticket sales in recent days have left Iowa with fewer than 1,000 tickets for Saturday’s game.
10. Northern Illinois has won 21 of its last 23 games dating to Oct. 1, 2011, losing only to Iowa in last season’s opener 18-17 and to Florida State 31-10 in the Orange Bowl at the end of last season. The Huskies own a pair of streaks which lead the nation – winning 17 straight conference games and 21 straight on-campus home games.