The Hawkeyes Here and Now

Aug. 30, 2005

Whether we were on the field as it happened or watched it on television, we remember “the play.” The chaos on the field. The last-minute scramble. It’s the 56-yard, Capital One Bowl-winning touchdown pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway that will live in Hawkeye lore for perpetuity.

But as Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference, the Capital One Bowl is over. And the 2004 season, with its 10-2 record and its top-10 final poll ranking, is over.

Ball State comes to Iowa City at 11:10 a.m. CDT Saturday. The eight month, three-day wait between Hawkeye football games will end. Welcome to the 2005 season.

“I think I speak for most of us involved here with the team, we’re anxious to move on,” Ferentz said. “It’s time to start the 2005 season.”

Ferentz said the preseason talk about Iowa (No. 11 AP; No. 10 ESPN/USA Today) was nice, but he’s ready to retake the field at the newly-renovated Kinnick Stadium.

“As a football team, we need to get out there and start playing games and find out what this team is about,” he said. “I think we’re all anxious, not even to turn to a new chapter, but to close that book and start another.

“It’s time to start playing a little and find out what’s going to happen.”

The season opener, though, will be a mixed bag of players and only a rough estimate of where the new Hawkeye team stands. Few players are written in ink on the depth chart.

Running back, tight end, left guard, the defensive line, free safety and punter all remain in flux with three days before live competition.

“I wouldn’t mind being sure (about the lineups),” Ferentz said. “I wouldn’t object to that at all. But I don’t know if I’ve ever been in that situation as coach, and I don’t know how many coaches ever are. You just get to the point where the picture is a little cloudy, and that’s where we are now.

“Certainly this is an important part of the process, but certainly it won’t be the whole story,” the coach added. “We won’t know the whole story after Saturday, and I guess that’s the fun part about this. It’s always changing – interesting, maybe not always fun, but interesting.”

Marcus Schnoor and Albert Young, both felled with anterior cruciate ligament injuries early last season, will share the No. 1 spot for running backs. Sam Brownlee and Marques Simmons are both close behind. Simmons, however, has been battling a leg injury and may not see playing time on Saturday. True freshman Shonn Greene will even see playing time according to Ferentz.

“As a football team, we need to get out there and start playing games and find out what this team is about. I think we’re all anxious, not even to turn to a new chapter, but to close that book and start another. It’s time to start playing a little and find out what’s going to happen.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

“Everybody has a little different role in the backfield,” Ferentz said. “I think each of the guys we have has different strengths and weaknesses. You try to get them in a position that works for them. You have guys that are a little better at this and a little better at that, so we’ll try to play to strengths.”

Ferentz also said the tight ends were in the same situation, where Ryan Majerus, Scott Chandler, Brandon Myers, and true freshman Tony Moeaki will be in the mix.

Moeaki caught the coach’s eye for appearing as though he belonged in the Iowa program from the first day.

“Some guys have that uncanny ability to walk into a situation and know what they’re doing, not that he’s there yet,” Ferentz said. “There’s still a difference between a junior, a senior, and a true freshman. But he’s kind of handled everything pretty adeptly. He doesn’t seem to get too rattled or get too fazed by the challenges that are ahead of him.”

The coach also isn’t sure how the punter situation will shake out. Andy Fenstermaker and John Gallery have been battling for the position vacated by David Bradley, and the statistics are dead even between the two.

“Based on the numbers we have, I’m not sure if things are going to look a lot different,” Ferentz said. “We may see both of them out there. Probably until we get them on the game field, we won’t be sure how it’s going to go. The guys have worked extremely hard, and they’ve done a nice job. We’re excited about it. It’s not a negative. We’re just not sure who’s going to start.”

Overall, Ferentz says the “attitude and tempo” of the team need to be assessed on Saturday, after what he described as some inconsistent preseason practices.

“We haven’t been too clean in practice,” he said. “Having penalties, turning the ball over, those types of things can get you in trouble fast. I don’t care who you’re playing.”

Ferentz also said he distributed a list of Big Ten teams that lost to Mid-American Conference opponents in the past few years so that his players wouldn’t look past their opponent.

“If you don’t respect the game, we’ll be on that list,” he said.

CAPTAINS: Seniors Abdul Hodge, Chad Greenway, Brian Ferentz and Ed Hinkel will lead the swarm out of the new and improved tunnel in the southwest corner of Kinnick, the direct opposite corner from previous years. Ferentz said his captains “have had a lot of good experience for us, and I think they’ll do a great job on Saturday giving us leadership and all season long.”

INJURIES: Despite a good preseason camp with limited, minor injuries, one Hawkeye will not play for certain on Saturday. Wide receiver Matt Melloy has continuing leg problems. Simmons, the running back, may be in the same situation depending on this week’s practices.

Barry Pump,