With 10 games to go in the regular season, Iowa coaches are already concerned about keep Akrum Wadley’s body fresh and ready for the Big Ten season.
That and more are part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10, your daily dose of Iowa news and notes.
Delivered at 10 a.m. each weekday at Hawkmania.com, your home for all things Iowa, here is today’s Hawkeye 10@10:
1. Akrum Wadley will get his carries, but expect Iowa to work to find more work for James Butler and other backs in the program this week.
The graduate transfer has carried the football 10 times in each of the Hawkeyes’ first two games but with one eye on the future and the wear and tear of a 12-game season, coaches want to keep Wadley fresh and get Butler ready.
Wadley carried a career-high 28 times against Iowa State, caught four passes and returned three kicks.
“The first week wasn’t bad, but Saturday (at Iowa State) was probably a little heavier than we’d like, so we’ll try to balance that out a bit,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “There is no reason we can’t. We’ve got other guys that are doing a really good job. We’ve got to watch that a little bit.’’
2. Shortly after Saturday’s win at Iowa State, Josey Jewell wasn’t exactly enamored with the effort of the Iowa defense in its 44-41 overtime victory.
His thoughts didn’t change after watching the tape.
“If anything, I’m probably more upset,’’ he said. “It just wasn’t a good game. I have to be better than that.’’
3. North Texas will test the Iowa defense in a different way.
The Mean Green run an “air raid’’ offense that has averaged 580.5 yards during the team’s 1-1 start.
Coach Seth Littrell arrived at the Conference USA program a year ago after working as the assistant head coach at North Carolina, but his offensive philosophy at North Texas has paralleled what he learned while spending four seasons as the running backs coach on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech.
Sophomore Mason Fine quarterbacks the Mean Green and he arrives at Kinnick Stadium after passing for a career-high 424 yards while completing 32-of-47 passes last week in a loss to SMU.
North Texas had six plays of 20 or more yards last week against the Mustangs.
4. At guard or tackle, Boone Myers finds himself positioned to help the Iowa offensive line in a number of ways.
“Wherever I’m needed, I can step in,’’ said Myers, who is listed this week at the back up at both tackle and guard positions on the left side of the line. “I’ve been around long enough that I can swing back and forth pretty easily.’’
Myers was slowed in fall camp by a ankle injury that has impacted his playing time in the first two games of the season.
“Boone is gaining ground right now and you’ll see him play more and more with each week,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Based on what I’ve seen the last two weeks, I think we’re starting to get where we want to get.’’
5. While there are similarities between the way Iowa State’s offense spreads defenses out and the way North Texas plays, cornerback Michael Ojemudia said the Hawkeyes are preparing for a different beast this week.
“They put so many receivers on the field,’’ Ojemudia said. “It changes the way you have to approach it. We’ll be who we are, but we have to be ready for what they do, too.’’
6. Beyond the work of A.J. Epenesa at defensive end, the two touchdowns by Ihmir Smith-Marsette which led Iowa to a win last weekend at Iowa State and Ivory Kelly-Martin now returning kicks, true freshmen continue to see expanding roles for the Iowa football team.
Receiver Brandon Smith saw the field for the first time against the Cyclones and coach Kirk Ferentz said a third receiver, Max Cooper, is getting a hard look as a potential contributor on Iowa’s punt return game.
“He’s done a nice job back there,’’ Ferentz said.
7. Matt VandeBerg will climb into the top 15 on Iowa’s career receptions chart with his next catch.
The fifth-year senior currently has 111 receptions for 1,363 yards, one reception behind Bill Happel Jr. (1982-85) and Keenan Davis (2009-12) on the all-time list.
VandeBerg has a chance to climb that chart quickly.
He is currently within 10 catches of 11th on the list and is 15 receptions shy of tying Marv Cook (1986-88) for 10th.
8. The changes in the Big Ten schedule in 2020 and 2021 that ends Iowa’s recent tradition of playing Nebraska to close out the regular season did not interest coach Kirk Ferentz much.
Although he has grown to like the Black Friday match-up, seeing it as a way to give players an additional weekend day off to be with family at the end of the season, he has other greater concerns now.
“We’ll play them as they come. I’m not too worried about that,’’ Ferentz said. “What I am worried about is how we play at 2:30 on Saturday.’’
Here’s a look at Iowa’s 2020 and 2021 league schedules that were released by the Big Ten on Tuesday:
2020: Sept. 19, at Minnesota; Oct. 3, Michigan State; Oct. 10, at Ohio State; 17, at Penn State; 24, Northwestern; Nov. 7, at Illinois; Nov. 14, Nebraska; Nov. 21, at Purdue; Nov. 28, Wisconsin.
2021: Sept. 4, Indiana; Oct. 2, at Northwestern; Oct. 9, Penn State; Oct. 23, at Maryland; Oct. 30, Purdue; Nov. 6, at Nebraska; Nov. 13, Minnesota; Nov. 20, Illinois; Nov. 27, at Wisconsin
9. North Texas is largely a homegrown football team.
The Mean Green roster includes 91 players from the state of Texas.
The roster includes 29 players from outside the state, including eight from Oklahoma.
10. Iowa’s rally from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter Saturday at Iowa State was a rarity.
It marked just the fourth time during Kirk Ferentz’s tenure that the Hawkeyes have overcame a deficit of 10 more points to win and was the first road victory in that scenario.
The other three games — against Indiana in 2009, Pittsburgh in 2011 and Ball State in 2014 — were played a Kinnick Stadium.