Oct. 31, 2003
Kirk Ferentz is a very busy man – just like all college football coaches nine…10…11 weeks into their season. He’s not too busy, however, to not know what day Saturday is.
“If I’m not mistaken, Saturday is the first of November. One of our program’s priorities is to be playing our best football in November because teams want to be playing their best football at the time of the season when it means the most,” Ferentz told the 400 or so who gathered for the traditional Johnson County I-Club Breakfast Friday morning at the Sheraton Iowa City.
So, there you have it, Hawk fans. There will be no looking past the struggling Fighting Illini of Illinois when Ferentz’s nationally ranked Hawkeyes entertain their border rival Saturday at 11 a.m. inside historic Kinnick Stadium. The game is a sell out and will be televised live by ESPN Plus.
“If I’m not mistaken, Saturday is the first of November. One of our program’s priorities is to be playing our best football in November because teams want to be playing their best football at the time of the season when it means the most.”
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz
“Our focus needs to be on us,” Ferentz said after reviewing the troubles that have hit the Illini following a pretty solid start against UCLA, Missouri and California during the non-conference portion of the season.
“Fans don’t need to look any further than what happened last weekend in Evanston to be reminded of the possible result of a team that might think a win is a given. In this league, you have to be ready to play each week, each snap,” said Ferentz, who was making reference to Northwestern’s victory over Wisconsin last Saturday.
Ferentz said he expects Ed Hinkel, Jermelle Lewis, Erik Jensen and Maurice Brown all to see action against the Illini. He also reminded fans about the real impact of injuries in college football.
“Everyone talks a lot about the impact on the team, but the focus really should be on the young guys and particularly a senior. For those players, each Saturday is huge. It’s tough because they so very much want to play,” said Ferentz.
Ferentz said Iowa’s victory last week over Penn State was satisfying for many reasons more important than it was the Hawkeyes’ fourth straight over the Nittany Lions.
“We needed to make some strides forward. We needed to get the running game going again and rebound on special teams,” said Ferentz.
“The No. 1 focus was getting our sixth win. We accomplished that. And, from that perspective, things haven’t changed. We take one game at a time. So the focus this week is getting win No. 7,” he added.
Ferentz announced that Saturday’s honorary captain will be Casey Wiegmann, who has a week off from his regular job with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. He’s the second straight honorary captain who played for Applington-Parkersburg High School.
“We’ve got a little streak going there, so we’ll keep it going,” said Ferentz.
Wiegmann won’t be the only Chief inside Kinnick on Saturday, however. He’ll be joined by former Hawkeyes C.J. Jones and Jason Baker.
Friday’s I-Club event also included the introduction of the recipient of this year’s Marshall Stewart Award, presented annually in honor of the former UI employee and “passionate” fan of the Hawkeye.
“He loved the Hawkeyes, particularly the outstanding young men who represent the University in athletic competition,” said Steve Stewart, the son of Marshall.
This year’s recipient was Jeff Grimley, a junior on the Iowa baseball team. Grimley follows in the footsteps of Hawkeyes like Mark Denkinger (baseball), Mike Wells (football), Joe Williams (wrestling) and Deon Trowers (track and field).
“Jeff is much like Marshall…he’s passionate about the Hawkeyes and passionate about the University of Iowa. He’s an outstanding representative and is truly honored to be the recipient of this year’s award,” said UI Baseball Coach Jack Dahm, who accepted the award in Grimley’s absence because of a family emergency.