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10@10: Young defensive line matures quickly
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10@10: Young defensive line matures quickly

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DUPLICATE***Iowa Hawkeyes' defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg (97) and defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (91) apply the pressure on Iowa State Cyclones' quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Ames.

A unique situation for an Iowa assistant, the return of a Hawkeye from the injured list and an opponent that knows what it is going to get are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10.

Delivered each weekday at 10 a.m. during game week at hawkmania.com, the Hawkeye 10@10 serves up your daily dose of Iowa football news and notes.

Here is today’s Hawkeye 10@10:

1. Sunday will be a unique day for Iowa assistant defensive line coach Jay Niemann and his wife, Lou Ann.

The couple’s two sons, former Hawkeyes Ben and Nick Niemann will find themselves on opposite sidelines when the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers meet in an NFL game for the first time.

“It’s a unique feeling to say the least to see the two of them going head to head on the field,’’ Jay Niemann said Wednesday.

“We’re appreciative of the opportunity they both have. I can’t tell you who I’m going to root for from a team standpoint, but what does make it easy is since they both play defense and they go against the opposing team’s offense all we have to do is cheer for the defense. That makes it easy.’’

Ben Niemann is in his fourth season with the Chiefs after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018.

Nick Niemann is in his rookie season with the Chargers, selected in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft after earning third-team all-Big Ten honors last fall.

With Iowa playing at Maryland one week from Friday and shortening preparations for game week, Jay Niemann will have to settle for watching a tape of the game on Sunday night while his wife will be in the stands.

“Hopefully, they just enjoy the competition and stay healthy in the process,’’ Jay Niemann said.

2. The work of defensive line coach Kelvin Bell is making a difference in the way a young Iowa line has matured quickly.

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Lukas Van Ness said the success on the field is a byproduct of what the Hawkeyes have learned off the field.

“It starts with the way coach Bell runs things, the way he runs film. He’s a great coach,’’ Van Ness said. “He teaches us great fundamentals, great pad level, great separation, just all the things we need to be great defensive linemen.’’

Van Ness said the group trusts what they hear and learn from Bell.

“I think that works for every guy in our room,’’ he said.

3. After using variations of three-man defensive fronts in its first three games, Colorado State will send more of a traditional four-man front at Iowa this week.

Quarterback Spencer Petras welcomes the chance to face an opponent that plays defense in a similar style to what the Hawkeyes are accustomed to seeing in the Big Ten.

“It makes the preparation a little easier,’’ Petras said. “You’re not training your eyes to see a totally foreign thing.’’

Petras said the bottom line remains unchanged for Iowa.

“Each week, it gets down to how we do things. We’ll learn and adjust to any scheme,’’ he said. “The big challenge always becomes how well we can execute.’’

4. Colorado State coach Steve Addazio senses some excitement about the challenge his team faces Saturday in its 2:30 p.m. game at Iowa.

“We’re not naïve. We know how good this football team is. It’s pretty evident. They’re the number five team in the country and they should be,’’ Addazio said.

"But in the same breathe, we’ve got to focus on us. We’ve got to get better again this week. Each week we want to get incrementally better. This week, we’re going up against, obviously, an incredible challenge that will be another benchmark for our program. We’re looking forward to the excitement level of a big-time game.’’

5. Iowa defensive lineman Logan Jones has returned to the practice field. Jones was in the mix for a spot on the depth chart before he suffered a knee injury in the spring.

Assistant defensive line coach Jay Niemann said Wednesday that Jones returned to the practice field last week, going through unpadded workouts.

Niemann said Jones has done a little more this week.

“He’s been involved in everything now, doing some drills, that type of thing,’’ Niemann said. “So far, so good.’’

6. The workhorse in the Colorado State backfield followed coach Steve Addazio from Boston College to the Mountain West program.

The senior has rushed 64 times for 259 yards and two scores so far this season for the Rams.

He’s a capable receiver as well, catching seven passes for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns through three games.

7. What you see is what you get. At least that is what Colorado State coach Steve Addazio expects from Iowa this week.

“They’re averaging under 300 yards per game on offense and they are the fifth-ranked team in the country. That tells you all you need to know,’’ Addazio said. “They play great defensive football and have great special teams. We know they’ll be physical and tough.’’

In watching tape, he sees a lot of similarities between this Iowa team and the one he faced in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl while coaching at Boston College.

“They’re not flashy or gadget-y,’’ Addazio said. “That’s not Iowa football. They’ve been playing that way for 23 years and they know exactly who they are. To me, that’s the genius of it all.’’

8. Colorado State has not beaten a ranked team since 2002 when it defeated a seventh-ranked Colorado team, 19-14.

The Rams are 0-22 against rated teams since and have an all-time record against top-10 teams of 2-13.

9. Around 4,000 tickets remain for Iowa’s 2:30 p.m. home game Saturday against Colorado State.

Of the Hawkeyes’ remaining five games at Kinnick Stadium, only the Oct. 9 game against Penn State is sold out.

10. The Iowa and Colorado State coaching staffs will be wearing special arm patches during Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game at Kinnick Stadium to support the American Football Coaches Association’s Coach to Cure MD program.

The bright green logos are being used to raise awareness and raise funds to assist in research efforts for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Fans can text CURE to 501501 to participate in the program.

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