It’s tough being a tight end.
From getting grabbed on the field by foes and friends to being tagged as the acting attorney general in the Trump administration, tight ends are in the new in today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10.
All that and more in your daily dose of Iowa football 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. Noah Fant is used to getting grabbed by opposing defensive backs. T.J. Hockenson said it happens all the time – even in practice.
It’s part of the deal when you play tight end and are frequently being defended by smaller defensive backs.
Fant see a bit of a double standard, something that draw a flag when a smaller receiver is going head-to-head with a defensive back compared to when that defensive back is dealing with the combination of size and athleticism tight ends bring to the field.
“When you get bigger bodies that are faster, I think it’s kind of like how LeBron (James) is in the NBA,’’ Fant said. “He drives through the lane, he’s so powerful, everybody can hack on him and everything and they don’t call a foul because he’s so big. It’s kind of a similar scenario with smaller DBs.’’
Hockenson said it goes with the turf.
“That’s every play, every game, every practice,’’ he said. Practice? “Our linebackers are … well, in practice anyway,’’ Hockenson said. “Better cut that one out. Ah, you can tell them. I don’t care.’’
Hockenson said he has learned to deal with it.
“I think you always expect to be grabbed, every by every D-back. Every tight end does what they can to get open,’’ he said. “Every D-back does what they can to have you not get open. As long as there is no foul, it’s fair game.’’
2. Nate Stanley was showing off his injured thumb Tuesday, no need to keep it buried inside the pockets of a Hawkeye sweatshirt.
“It’s all good,’’ the Iowa quarterback said.
The tip of the thumb on his right hand remained a little bruised, but Stanley said things have been “feeling good’’ through the first few days of practice this week.
3. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz likes the flexibility changes in the college redshirt rule have brought to the Iowa program.
The change allows players to participate in up to four games and still maintain a redshirt year.
Hawkeye coaches have been mixing and matching appearances by several Iowa freshmen. Only three, defensive backs Julius Brents, Kaevon Merriweather and Riley Moss, have appeared in more than four games and at first blush, Ferentz doesn’t expect any more to join that group.
Freshman receiver Tyrone Tracy played in his second game last week at Purdue, receiving five snaps.
Ferentz said Tracy has made progress and with continued growth in practice could play in two of Iowa’s final four games – three regular season and the bowl – and still preserve a year of eligibility.
Linebacker Dillon Doyle is at that point as well, and Ferentz said the plan is to preserve his redshirt year.
“It’s given some guys a taste,’’ Ferentz said.
4. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald didn’t waste any breath laying the superlatives on what he likes about Iowa this week.
Coaching Northwestern to seven wins in 11 games against the Hawkeyes, Fitzgerald finds a lot of reasons for Iowa to be 6-3 at this point.
“Nate (Stanley) is a good quarterback and he played really well in the second half against Purdue. They’ve got great backs, the best tight end tandem in the country, an offensive line that is very physical and well-conditioned and their wide receivers are probably the best we have seen from Iowa,’’ Fitzgerald said.
“On defense, they rotate eight guys up front who are as good as any in the league, they’re good and getting better behind those guys and their special teams have taken a step forward. In all three phases, they’re an excellent team.’’
5. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said the biggest challenge for Iowa moving forward this week is moving forward following back-to-back losses.
“That takes mental toughness,’’ Ferentz said. “We can’t be looking back or worried about the what ifs. We have to do what we can to get ready for this ballgame and do our best to prepare.’’
Ferentz believes that is happening.
“We need to finish the week out now, and I think all of us are really looking forward to getting out and having another opportunity to compete this week against a top-notch opponent.’’
6. Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson arrives at Iowa this weekend nearing some school career records.
The Wildcats’ senior quarterback, a starter in 48 straight games, needs 13 completions, 31 attempts and 820 passing yards to become the school’s career leader in those categories, records all held by Brett Basanez.
Thorson, who was recruited by Iowa out of Wheaton, Illinois, has completed 901-of-1,554 passes for 9,761 yards and 55 touchdowns during his college career.
He is already Northwestern’s career leader in touchdown passes.
7. For early November, Iowa’s injury list is relatively small this week.
Starting fullback Brady Ross will miss his fourth straight game Saturday with an ankle injury suffered in the Indiana game and tight end Shaun Beyer will sit out a second straight week because of a non-contact injury suffered in practice early last week.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said Ross is making progress but is likely “at least a week or so away,’’ while Beyer isn’t expected back until bowl preparations begin in December.
8. Iowa defensive coordinator and secondary coach Phil Parker is among 53 nominees for the Broyles Award, presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football.
Parker, a member of coach Kirk Ferentz’s staff for the past 20 seasons, coordinates a Hawkeye defense which ranks fifth nationally in run defense, eighth nationally in total defense and 14th in scoring defense.
9. Matt Whitaker being named acting attorney general in the Trump administration wasn’t the only former Iowa football player making news Wednesday.
Former Hawkeye Desmond King was named by the NFL as the defensive player of the week in the AFC.
The Los Angeles Chargers cornerback was honored for his work last weekend which included a pick six in a win over Seattle.
King returned the interception 42 yards for a touchdown and had three tackles in the game.
Elsewhere in the NFL, former Hawkeye Christian Kirksey was placed on the injured reserve by Cleveland with a hamstring injury and former Iowa lineman Matt Tobin was signed by the Patriots, who released former Hawkeye Cole Croston.
10. Two players Iowa has faced the past two weeks were named this morning among five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, presented to the most versatile player in the college football.
KJ Hamler of Penn State and Rondale Moore of Purdue are among a group of finalists that includes Connor Heyward of Michigan State as well as Marcus Green of Louisiana-Monroe and N’Keal Harry of Arizona State.
Hamler has had five games of 100 or more all-purpose yards, including 188 against the Hawkeyes, while Moore leads the Big Ten with an average of 170.8 all-purpose yards per game.