Oct. 16, 2007
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa football team looks to continue its climb up the Big Ten Conference standings with a road test against Purdue on Saturday, Oct. 20, in West Lafayette, Ind. Kickoff is 11:02 a.m., with television broadcast on ESPN2.
The Hawkeyes (3-4 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) will not have long to enjoy their 10-6 victory against Illinois last week at historic Kinnick Stadium. Senior linebacker Mike Humpal will barely have time to acknowledge the pats on the back for his Big Ten and National Defensive Player of the Week honors. The game-saving interception by redshirt freshman Brett Greenwood and the improved play from the Iowa offense? Good news, but old news.
“We just needed some success first and foremost,” said Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz at his weekly media briefing Tuesday in the Jacobson Athletic Building. “Our guys have worked hard and their attitude has been great. But at some point you’ve got to have a little reward in there, too. I think it verified for a lot of guys on the team that things can work out, we’ve just got to keep pushing, keep working through some issues and challenges.”
Purdue won its first five games, but finds itself reeling after back-to-back league defeats against Ohio State and Michigan by a combined score of 71-28. The Boilermakers are fourth in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging 434.7 yards per game with 295.7 of those coming through the air. It will be a classic duel between Iowa’s defense which is rated No. 15 in the nation against the Purdue passing offense, which is rated No. 18. Boilermaker quarterback Curtis Painter is 17th in the country in passing yards per game (274.7). Dorien Bryant is 20th in the NCAA with 6.86 receptions per game.
“(Purdue) has played two pretty high-caliber teams,” Ferentz said. “We’re going to have a challenge there. The challenge is for us to make sure we’re playing better than last week and the week before. We’re going to go into battle and see what happens.”
Historically, this is the time of year when the Iowa program moves from drive to over-drive. Several young and inexperienced Hawkeyes have spent the past few weeks gaining valuable experience while veterans like tight end Tony Moeaki, linebacker Mike Klinkenborg and defensive back Devan Moylan have been healing injuries. That will leave more weapons for Iowa in weeks to come, but Ferentz isn’t looking games or seasons down the road.
“We’re playing for today, we’re not playing for three years from now,” Ferentz said.
“We just needed some success first and foremost. Our guys have worked hard and their attitude has been great. But at some point you’ve got to have a little reward in there, too. I think it verified for a lot of guys on the team that things can work out, we’ve just got to keep pushing, keep working through some issues and challenges.”
Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
Ferentz opened his pre-interview monologue by congratulating Humpal on his weekly honor and tipping his cap to the University of Northern Iowa and Coach Mark Farley on being voted to the top position in The Sports Network FCS Poll. He said that linebacker Pat Angerer will miss the Purdue game because of injury, but Klinkenborg, Moylan, Moeaki and offensive lineman Rob Bruggeman have starting to work back into playing form.
“(Humpal) has played extremely well all season long,” Ferentz said. “He’s doing a great job for us. He’s a tremendous person and a great student.”
For the season, Humpal leads all Hawkeye defenders with 73 tackles. He has 5 ½ tackles for loss, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
Iowa has won three consecutive games against Purdue, including 47-17 last season in Iowa City. The last meeting at Purdue, the Hawkeyes won, 34-17.
Ferentz fielded two questions about the improved offense and quarterback Jake Christensen’s ability to avoid throwing interceptions. He said the offense had more sustained drives, drove the ball and were better on third down against Illinois last week. So what is the next goal?
“Points, hopefully” Ferentz said with a laugh. “I thought we executed much better. We were basically better in every phase, but now we’ve got to score some points.”
In reference to Christensen, Ferentz said, “I look at Jake right now and he’s doing a lot of things real well and one of them is protecting the ball and making good decisions with it.”
Captains for the Hawkeyes this week are Humpal and end Bryan Mattison on defense and running back Albert Young and fullback Tom Busch on offense.
Click HERE for the Big Ten Network home page.