'Anxious to Get Out There'

Sept. 1, 2004

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The “throwback” helmets and shoes are being broken in at practices, and the Iowa football team is “anxious to get out there,” Head Coach Kirk Ferentz reported Tuesday during his weekly press conference. The 12th-rated Hawkeyes will do just that shortly after 11 a.m. on Saturday against Kent State in the first-ever Throwback Game.

“I’m sure that both teams are ready to get out onto the football field,” Ferentz said. “We’ve been in camp and practicing for over three weeks now, and I think it’s safe to say that both teams are probably anxious to get out there and see a different colored helmet and get going, competing a little bit.”

Iowa will face several unknowns on Saturday, and those have Ferentz, who is starting his sixth year as Head Hawk, a bit concerned.

The Golden Flashes have a new coach in Doug Martin, who was brought up from offensive coordinator following the resignation of Dean Pees, who left for the sidelines of the New England Patriots.

As Kent State’s offensive coordinator, Martin coached a team that averaged 26.8 points per game – the second-highest total in the last 30 years for the team.

In addition to the top spot, the Golden Flashes have a new defensive coordinator in Pete Rekstis, who coached at Youngstown State, and a new defensive run-game coordinator in Jon Wauford who was the defensive coordinator at Miami (Ohio). Kent State also has two new linebacker coaches.

“With Coach Martin being an offensive coach, I don’t see them deviating from what they did last year when he was the coordinator,” Ferentz said. “They had great success. We expect the same packages. I think the biggest question for us is defensively.

“We’ve been having a hard time with this ballgame because Dean Pees was a defensively oriented coach, and now they’ve hired a new coordinator. That’s a new package, and they also have the Miami of Ohio package. So we’ve tried to research all three packages, and the bottom line is we’re not sure what to expect on Saturday,” added Ferentz. “That’s a big of a concern because the unknown makes you uneasy and you factor that with how many young players we have offensively, and it could be interesting going.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to handle whatever we see and have a good week of preparation and speculate on what they might do and hopefully we’re right on some of our predictions,” Ferentz said. “That part is a little dicey right now.”

Adding to the drama is a shakeup on the offensive line.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to handle whatever we see and have a good week of preparation and speculate on what they might do and hopefully we’re right on some of our predictions. That part is a little dicey right now.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

Redshirt freshman Todd Plagman, a walk-on from Carson, IA, unseated junior letterwinner Ben Cronin for a starting shot at left guard during the end of camp, and Mike Jones moved from left guard in the spring to right tackle on Tuesday’s two-deep chart.

“We’re still kind of in a reshuffling mode,” Ferentz said. “It’s probably fair to say that we’ll play six or seven guys (on the line), maybe even eight. There’s a lot of competition right now. It’s been tough making decisions.”

Ferentz says that the offensive line, as a unit, has had difficulties “gelling.”

“We’re seeing some good things individually and some good efforts individually, but as far as the guys working together and the cohesiveness that you like to see, I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out,” the coach said. “We’ll probably field seven or eight guys through the course of the game and see where we’re at.”

But that assessment is to be expected at a season opener.

“We’re anxious to see where we’re at and how our guys will respond,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got a lot of new players and a lot of young players, so it’ll be good to see how they respond out there.”

INJURY REPORT: In addition to the three players that were known to be out for the first game, David Walker, Brian Ferentz and Zach Gabelmann, Ferentz reported that backup quarterback Jason Manson had a screw inserted in one of his feet, taking him out of the mix for the non-conference schedule.

“That’s probably the tentative situation at this point,” the coach said. “It’s one of those surprising things. It probably happened four, five or six days ago. He’s had some soreness in his foot that’s bothered him the past few days.

“We’re optimistic he’ll be back here real quickly,” Ferentz added. “But that does change some things for us.”

In the meantime, Eric McCollom will be the No. 2 QB.

Freshman defensive lineman Ettore Ewen, a 6-foot, 280-pounder from Tampa, FL, was another casualty of the three-week preseason camp. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament early in camp and has surgery scheduled for Friday morning.

“That’s very unfortunate, obviously,” said Ferentz. “He was doing a great job, and I think he’ll be a great fit into our program. We look for him to have a full recovery.”

REDSHIRTS? Four true freshmen are looking to make the team their first year with the Hawkeyes, according to Ferentz, who also said that they hope to start cultivating the next generation of the team by their picks.

On the already young offensive line, Seth Olsen is behind sophomore Mike Jones at right tackle on the two-deep depth chart.

“We’re anxious to see where we’re at and how our guys will respond. We’ve got a lot of new players and a lot of young players, so it’ll be good to see how they respond out there.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

On defense, Matt Kroul is looking at the No. 3 spot behind Jonathan Babineaux and George Eshareturi at defensive tackle. Adam Shada is one behind Jovon Johnson at left corner, and Charles Godfrey is behind Chris Brevi and Sean Considine at free safety.

“We’re going to let those guys practice with our first and second units and just see how things progress,” Ferentz said. “If we’re not sure, then we’re going to hold them out of the game on Saturday until we have a little better picture of what’s going on.”

CAPTAINS: Coach Ferentz selected four senior captains to lead the swarm on Saturday. Sean Considine will be the only captain not on a line, while right guard Pete McMahon is the only offensive player. Jonathan Babineaux and preseason all-American Matt Roth round it off.

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com