March 26, 2008
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Spring Practice Exclusives
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Spring football practice begins Wednesday afternoon at the University of Iowa and head coach Kirk Ferentz used the success of the national champion Hawkeye wrestling team as an example of what could happen in the fall.
“Our wrestling team is a great example of that,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think we’re ready to win a national championship quite yet like they did, but some of the improvement some of their young guys made is a great, great illustration and a great example for our team on how players can improve.”
Ferentz was referring to how the UI wrestling program went from third in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation in 2007 to becoming conference and national champions one year later.
Last season the Hawkeye football team was 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten. Iowa won three of its final four games, but it was the season-ending 28-19 setback at home to Western Michigan that kept the Hawkeyes from a seventh consecutive postseason bowl invitation.
“I’m always optimistic,” Ferentz said. “I think we’ve got enough good players on our football team and enough players that have potential to make great improvement and that’s really the key. If we can do that, then we have a chance to be a real good football team — and keep guys healthy — that part of the equation, too, and keep them moving forward.”
The Hawkeyes suffered several key injuries last season, but the majority of the news from the training room of late has been positive. Tight end Tony Moeaki had a wrist procedure done and will be kept out of spring drills. Three other players will also miss spring practice, but could be back at full strength in June. Those players are offensive linemen Dace Richardson and Bryan Bulaga and defensive back Jordan Bernstine. Bernstine and Bulaga had shoulder procedures in the off-season. Defensive back Devan Moylan is not able to compete, but is interested in becoming a student assistant coach.
The Hawkeyes are working to replace several team statistical leaders from the 2007 season, including their top two rushers (Albert Young, Damian Sims), top two in interceptions (Charles Godfrey, Mike Humpal) and two of the top three tacklers (Humpal, Mike Klinkenborg).
“You’re first concerned about replacing your seniors and we graduated some outstanding seniors,” Ferentz said. “They were very good football players and good leaders. I’m just curious to see what kind of improvement our experienced players can make and I’m also interested to learn more about the younger guys.”
Iowa returns quarterback Jake Christensen, who completed 53.5 percent of his passes for 2,269 yards and 17 touchdowns; leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (38 receptions, 482 yards, two touchdowns); return star Andy Brodell (14 punt returns, 14.4 average) and second-leading tackler A.J. Edds (80 tackles, 3 ½ for loss).
“Brodell is back full-speed, which is good,” Ferentz said. “Certainly, it’s good to have him back.”
“It will be good for us to get on the field and get started. We’re all looking forward to that. Every year, every phase, everything we do is very, very important. We’ve had a good out-of-season as far as strength and conditioning work. The team made some improvement that way.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
Last season Brodell caught 13 passes in four games before he suffered a season-ending injury at Wisconsin. When addressing the wide receiver group, Ferentz said “we have some guys who played a lot, flashed, and have good potential, but it’s a group that needs to mature and come along.”
Ferentz acknowledged that the Hawkeyes won’t have depth at running back and cornerback in the spring and will have to receive contributions from incoming freshmen by the time the season opens Aug. 30 against Maine.
“We’re thin (at running back),” Ferentz said. “It’s a position of concern. The corner position is the same way. We’re really limited in numbers at those positions. Shonn Greene factors into the (running back) equation pretty strongly, but he won’t be with us in the spring. I’m anxious to get a look at Nate Guillory. This is one position where we’re going to need some supplementation from guys who are not with us and I think you probably look at the cornerback situation and say the same thing.”
The issue of player conduct re-surfaced and Ferentz called all the off-season incidents “disappointing and unfortunate.”
“That continues to be disappointing and I’m getting a little tired of using that word,” Ferentz said. “It’s unfortunate and it’s something we’re going to continue to work through. College students are going to make mistakes, but probably the most disappointing thing is when repeated errors are made. That really needs to be shored up. That probably means you have a problem, you just don’t care or you’re too dumb to get it.”
Here are other comments Ferentz made about various positions and players at his press conference on Wednesday:
Quarterback Jake Christensen — “He’s a young guy and he played a little bit young. Jake’s right there with a lot of players. It will be important that he improve. He works hard and he’s serious about what he does.”
Offensive line — “We’ll keep moving guys around until we get the best equation.”
Linebacker — “After A.J. Edds, basically everyone is in contention. We’ll go into it with an open mind and try to get our three best guys on the field. We have flexibility there.”
“It will be good for us to get on the field and get started,” Ferentz said. “We’re all looking forward to that. Every year, every phase, everything we do is very, very important. We’ve had a good out-of-season as far as strength and conditioning work. The team made some improvement that way.”
The annual spring open practice will be Saturday, April 19, at 1 p.m.
UI Athletics Ticket Office Now Accepting Season Ticket Renewals
The UI Athletics Ticket Office is currently accepting orders for season tickets to the home games of the 2008 Iowa football team from fans of the Hawkeyes who purchased general public or UI faculty/staff season tickets for the 2007 season. Fans who want to renew their season ticket order online can do so now by logging into their UI Athletics Ticket Office online account. All persons who purchased general public or UI faculty/staff season tickets a year ago will also receive a renewal application in the mail next week. The deadline for renewal orders is Thursday, May 1.
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