Hawkeyes Look Forward to Start of Season

Aug. 1, 2007

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CHICAGO, IL – Today was the final day of the Big Ten Conference Media Day, which culminated with the 36th annual Kickoff Luncheon in which a capacity crowd of over 1,700 passionate football fans attended.

University of Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, along with Hawkeye seniors Bryan Mattison, Mike Klinkenborg and Albert Young, again represented the Iowa football program, along with head coaches and three players from each Big Ten school, and talked with the local and national media for two hours this morning.

Several topics were again discussed, none more than the outlook for the 2007 campaign. Young, who is a senior running back, said he views himself as a leader and is looking forward to the start of practice this Monday. “Looking at the season right now, we have to take that work ethic and practice mentality we had last December when preparing for the bowl game; if we do that, the results will come. Our goal like every other Big Ten team is a league championship.”

After missing games his freshman and junior seasons due to knee injuries, Young added that he is in good physical shape. “I feel good. I’m looking forward to staying healthy and enjoying my senior year. This is our last go-around as seniors and this is how our fans are going to remember us.”

Ferentz, who celebrated his 52nd birthday today, talked about what Hawkeye fans can expect from the offense this season. “We’re going to try to be balanced, that’s something we believe in. We’re excited to have a couple top quality running backs in Albert Young and Damian Sims returning and we’d be foolish not to try to best utilize those players. All the guys we put on the field expect to do their jobs at their positions.”

Ferentz also touched on starting the season with a new quarterback for the first time in three years. “Right now, it looks like Jake Christensen will be our quarterback. He’s going to have to make some tough throws, come through when needed and we have confidence that he will.”

Defensively, Mattison is excited to get back to action, but also sees room for improvement for the line. “We need to concentrate on stopping the run and getting a pass rush. As a defense it starts with the line and will really need to increase the number of sacks, too.”

Mattison, who hails from Mishawaka, IN, was asked which game he is most looking forward to. “The first one – Northern Illinois. You can’t look past any team. Last year was a learning experience. It didn’t end the way wanted it to, but I’m thankful I have another year to change some of those memories. We’re excited about the season and look forward to a better year.”

After the media activities, all 33 student-athletes from the 11 Big Ten institutions signed autographs and took pictures with hundreds of fans for an hour prior to the luncheon. After a brief photo session with the players and coaches, the event concluded with the luncheon. All media and fan activities the past two days took place at the Hyatt Regency hotel located in downtown Chicago.

Before heading back to Iowa City, Ferentz and Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta stopped by Soldier Field for a photo on the field with NIU Head Coach Joe Novak and Director of Athletics Joe Phillips.

The University of Iowa will hold its annual Media Day Monday (Aug. 6) afternoon in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes open the 2007 season in Chicago, meeting Northern Illinois in Soldier Field. That game is sold out and will be televised on ESPNU, with a 2:30 p.m. CT start. The Hawkeyes, who play three of their first four games on the road, open the home season September 8 with a 7 p.m. contest against Syracuse as Iowa’s makes its initial appearance on the Big Ten Network. That home contest is followed by road games at Iowa State and Wisconsin.

The 112th season of Big Ten football kicks off Saturday, Sept. 1 with all 11 teams in televised action, including six schools making their debut on the Big Ten Network.

Click HERE to learn more about the Big Ten Network.