Iowa’s line play, Michigan’s receivers and another Hawkeye on the job in the NFL are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10.
All that and more are part of today’s 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 currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten with its rushing average of 217.5 yards per game, something coach Kirk Ferentz said has been the result of a collaborative effort.
Ferentz believes Iowa’s ground game is working because of blocking that extends beyond the work of the Hawkeyes’ front five.
“Our line has done a pretty good job, but the level of competition goes up this week, certainly,’’ Ferentz said.
“I’ll throw in our receivers – I think they’re doing a good job. Brandon Smith in particular is doing a nice job, coming in there, digging safeties out, those types of things and we’ve talked about this pretty consistently since the end of spring ball.’’
2. The return of Alaric Jackson to the Iowa offensive line and the experience he brings to the tackle position is welcomed by teammates.
“AJ’s looking pretty good,’’ running back Toren Young said. “The line’s been great all year, everybody’s doing their job, but it will be good to get him back out there.’’
Jackson hasn’t played since suffering a knee sprain in the Hawkeyes’ season-opening win over Miami (Ohio).
3. Iowa defensive backs are impressed with what they see in Michigan receivers, part of a passing game that is averaging 261.5 yards per game.
“They’ve got a lot of talent and they’ve proven that pretty much every game,’’ Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “It’s going to be important for us to play in front of them. That’s going to be a big thing for us this week.’’
4. Michigan receiver Ronnie Bell has been on a roll entering the Iowa game.
The 6-foot sophomore has recorded at least 80 receiving yards in his last three games, leading the Wolverines with 81, 81 and 83 yards in games against Army, Wisconsin and Rutgers.
Like Iowa linebacker Djimon Colbert, Bell is a Kansas City native.
“I know of him, but don’t know him,’’ Colbert said. “He’s pretty impressive on tape, though.’’
Bell ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 4.3 receptions per game and is ninth in the league with an average of 65.8 receiving yards per game, one spot ahead of Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette and his average of 63.5 yards per game.
5. Three of the four true freshmen who took the field in Iowa’s season opener against Miami (Ohio) will likely continue to contribute deeper into the season.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said that running back Tyler Goodson, offensive lineman Justin Britt and tight end Sam LaPorta continue to be in Iowa’s plans, while receiver Desmond Hutson will likely be redshirted.
“We’re still kind of pushing ahead with the three and Hutson I think has played in one or two so far,,’’ Ferentz said.
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Hutson could play in up to four games this season and maintain his redshirt year.
On defense, true freshmen Jack Campbell and Jermari Harris have played in two games and Dane Belton saw his first action in the Middle Tennessee game.
“Belton and Campbell are two guys we’re considering (for additional time) right now, so we’ll see,’’ Ferentz said.
6. Much like Iowa, Michigan has dealt with its share of injuries during the opening weeks of the season.
Coach Jim Harbaugh indicated Monday that back-up quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, out since suffering a concussion during a game at Wisconsin on Sept. 21 is “possible and doubtful’’ for this week.
“I think it’s possible that Dylan, everything goes really well, could possibly be practicing this week. I’d say doubtful for the game,’’ Harbaugh said.
Starting linebacker Josh Ross and starting tight end Sean McKeon were also injured during the Wisconsin game and have not played since.
Harbaugh did say McKeon was progressing quicker than expected but did not say he would be available this week.
7. Iowa has won five of its last six games against Michigan, but there is no shortage of respect for the Wolverines program is in the Hawkeye camp this week.
“They are a premier program in the history of college football,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s in the numbers. It documents it. There are a very small number, maybe a handful plus, of teams that can say that and they’re one of them. It’s on paper, and more importantly it’s on the field. When you look at their teams, it’s hard to find one that has struggled.’’
8. Nate Stanley has now started 30 consecutive games for the Hawkeyes, a mark achieved by only three other quarterbacks in Iowa history.
Chuck Long with 47 straight starts, Matt Sherman with 32 and Matt Rodgers with 31 are the only other Hawkeyes to top that mark.
Iowa has a 21-9 record in games Stanley has started under center.
9. Add Nick Easley to the list of former Iowa football players working in the NFL.
Easley, Iowa’s leading receiver last season, was signed to a contract by the Bills on Tuesday as a member of their practice squad.
Easley initially signed with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in May. He joins offensive lineman Ike Boettger and defensive back Micah Hyde with the Bills organization.
There are now 27 former Iowa players on NFL rosters and an additional five on practice squad rosters.
10. It will be homecoming on Saturday at Michigan.
Jim Harbaugh-coached Wolverine teams are 4-0 in homecoming games, but Iowa has won on its last two visits to Michigan Stadium as the homecoming opponent, winning 30-27 in 2002 and 38-28 in 2010.