Avoiding a Trap

Oct. 27, 2004

On paper, Illinois doesn’t look like much against Iowa. The Illini don’t lead in any single statistical category in the Big Ten. They give up a league-worst 31.2 points per game, and they have but two wins on the season.

But therein lies the danger. Could the Hawkeyes’ 11 a.m. date with Illinois inside Memorial Stadium in Champaign be – gasp – a trap?

It depends on what Iowa took out of last week’s bizarre-like 6-4 win over Penn State, another team without a win in the conference, but a team that gave the Hawkeyes a run for their money nonetheless.

If Iowa (No. 23 AP; No. 24 USA Today/ESPN) decides to look past the Illini on their way back to Kinnick Stadium to face Purdue, the result this week could be put in jeopardy, especially if Illinois reacts to its 45-0 beating by Minnesota last week in the same way that the Hawkeyes reacted after Arizona State put them down 44-7 in September.

“I know the effect (the loss to ASU) had on our football team,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “And at least in retrospect I know we got the desired result. I would anticipate (Illinois) having the same result.

“They’ll probably have a great week of practice and present us with a lot of problems.”

Ferentz said that, taking away the Minnesota loss, Illinois looks just as dangerous as Penn State last week.

“We’re looking at a team that’s ready to go,” he said. “I’m not sure there’s much difference between the two of us. I would hope our guys look at the films, that’s where it all starts.”

One thing, though, is for certain according to the coach: “I don’t think that we’re a good enough team or strong enough team or experienced enough team to look past anything. We really can’t afford to do that. We’re not a team that can do that.

“I don’t think our guys will do that, but I guess I’ll know on Saturday.”

Don’t worry too much, Coach. The players seem to have gotten the message.

“At this point in the season, you really have to take one game at a time,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We could look at it as a trap game, but we’re taking it one game at a time. We know it could come back to bite us.”

Quarterback Drew Tate agrees.

“I don’t think anyone is looking ahead, because I think everyone knows we’re not good enough to look ahead,” he said. “I think right now we just have to worry about what’s in front of us. You can’t control what happens in the Big Ten race or anything like that. But we can control what we do on Saturday and what we do today, tomorrow and Friday – preparation things like that.”

And according to right guard Brian Ferentz, it’s going to be a tough week of preparation before the four-hour bus ride to Champaign.

“I think that’s good,” he said. “Hopefully nobody got their heads in the clouds. It’s time to get back to work and get the ball moving again. You’re not going to win in November if you’re not moving the football.”

“I don’t think that we’re a good enough team or strong enough team or experienced enough team to look past anything. We really can’t afford to do that. We’re not a team that can do that. I don’t think our guys will do that, but I guess I’ll know on Saturday.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

Ferentz named defensive end Matt Roth and safety Sean Considine captains, as well as Chad Greenway and offensive linesman Pete McMahon, Tuesday. Roth and Considine are both natives of Illinois, and Ferentz said that was part of the reason for his appointments.

Considine is coming off not only a debilitating foot injury that took him out of last two games but also a career game last week in State College. The senior had his first interception of the season on a 51-yard return that set up a Hawkeye field goal. It was the longest interception return this season for Iowa.

But Considine’s foot nearly kept him from returning to his starting position. He was considering a highly probable starter last week, but it still in question as late as Friday morning.

“I woke up Friday morning and I told my parents not to come out to Penn State because I was sure I wasn’t going to play because my foot was still hurting,” Considine said. “I don’t know what happened Friday to Saturday, but I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.”

Considine’s parents didn’t make the 685-mile trip from Byron, IL., to State College, and the free safety is still trying to explain it to his parents.

“My dad’s still mad at me about it,” he said. “It’s the first game he missed in my career, and he’s pretty upset about it.”

There’s no doubt that Colleen and Rick Considine will make the far shorter trip to Champaign this week.

“I don’t know if it puts any more emphasis on the game, but I’ll have 80 to 100 people at the game,” Considine said. “I’d like to get a victory for them.”

Last week Coach Ferentz reported that running back Marques Simmons, the latest in a series of Iowa runners to be felled by an injury inside Kinnick Stadium, had an undetermined ankle injury.

The MRI results came back with exactly the diagnosis that Ferentz had made shortly after the game: a severe sprain – an injury not as major as a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but one severe enough to take him out for the remainder of the season.

“I don’t know how quickly he’ll come back,” said Ferentz.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Mike Klinkenborg also had a sprained ankle last week in practice and will miss practices this week.

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com