Sept. 2, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz opened his weekly media conference Tuesday the same way he started his post-Maine comments Saturday, Aug. 30 — by thanking loyal Hawkeye fans.
“The fan turnout was great,” Ferentz said. “We’re very appreciative of that. It was a holiday weekend and Maine didn’t travel a lot of folks. With all the challenges our fans have been through this past year, it was very much appreciated.”
Iowa has its sights set on a 32nd consecutive sellout of Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 6, when Florida International completes its second of back-to-back games to America’s heartland. The Golden Panthers lost last week at Kansas, 40-10.
“Based on one game and based on film from last year and then what we saw in their opener, they look like a more mature team, a more developed team,” Ferentz. “They played hard and they played with good effort last year and I think they’re just a better team now physically than they were.”
Ferentz said that Florida International’s offense will look very similar to what the Hawkeyes have seen over the past few seasons from Purdue. Golden Panther offensive coordinator Bill Legg was at Purdue five seasons, including the last two as co-offensive coordinator for Joe Tiller.
“They have a little bit of a Purdue flavor,” Ferentz. “I think you can see that influence with him taking over the offense down there. We went back and looked at some of the (Purdue) stuff and didn’t like what we saw last year obviously.”
A key word for the Hawkeyes this week is sharpen. They enjoyed a successful season-opener in the form of a 46-3 victory against Maine, where Iowa out-gained the Black Bears by 237 yards.
Our task right now is to get ready during the week,” Ferentz said. “We had a great week of practice last week and I think that showed up a little bit. Overall our operation was good Saturday, but there are a lot of things we need to get better at and I think that’s probably the biggest focus for us right now to see if we can’t have a better week so we play a little sharper on Saturday. It will be good to be back in Kinnick and we’ll go from there.”
When asked for specifics about areas that needed improvement, Ferentz was quick with a reply.
“Like blocking and tackling would be a good start,” he said. “Blocking at every position, and not just the linemen. We got the job done for the most part, but there are a lot of things we need to get sharper at and better at as we get going here. We missed a lot of tackles defensively. We’re going to have to get a little better in that area, too. Our overall sharpness is going to have to improve if we’re going to move on here.”
“Like blocking and tackling would be a good start. Blocking at every position, and not just the linemen. We got the job done for the most part, but there are a lot of things we need to get sharper at and better at as we get going here. We missed a lot of tackles defensively. We’re going to have to get a little better in that area, too. Our overall sharpness is going to have to improve if we’re going to move on here.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“It’s not uncommon for the No. 2 quarterback (Stanzi in this case) to be the fan favorite,” Ferentz said. “That one’s almost 100 percent. There are a couple things in life that are predictable and that’s one of them.”
Will the two-quarterback rotation continue against Florida International?
“It’s fair to say that that’s something we’ll do,” Ferentz said. “It’s fair to say we would expect that.”
What does one of the quarterbacks have to show you to exclusively secure the starting job?
“We’ll see how it pans out,” Ferentz said. “The good news right now is that both of them are doing a good job.”
Is everyone making too big of a deal out of the quarterback situation?
“I think so, yeah,” Ferentz said. “I understand…the quarterbacks are more interesting. The good news is that overall, we have competition.”
Christensen and Stanzi combined to complete 18 of 29 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Five Hawkeye receivers caught at least two passes and 10 different players had at least one reception.
Another strength on the offensive side of the ball is at running back, where Shonn Greene, Paki O’Meara and Jewel Hampton combined to rush for 200 yards and four touchdowns. Ferentz was asked if three is the number he is leaning toward for the bulk of the carries against Florida International.
“Three looked OK Saturday,” Ferentz said. “I hope it’s not a repeat of some of those years where we got down to four, five or six, one of those deals. It was a good day for Shonn in that he needed to play in a game and it taxed him pretty well. Hopefully we’ll just keep building. I think Paki O’Meara is one of our more improved players on the football team. I think he showed some things Saturday that maybe we didn’t see last spring. Hampton got off to a good start, so hopefully we can keep him going in the right direction, too.”
Although Iowa had a relatively easy time against Maine, Ferentz called the first nonconference weekend a learning experience for his team from traveling to the team hotel Friday night, to being on time for meetings and even getting dressed properly. Then on game day, ironing out all details, including substitutions.
“Every opportunity we have is an opportunity to do something well or do something poorly,” Ferentz said. “Hopefully we’ll do it well.”
Ferentz said the Hawkeye offensive line had “a good first step, a good start.”
“But, again, the good news Saturday was I the guys that we’re playing and in contention right now are all helping themselves, which is good,” Ferentz said.”
UI captains this week are Mitch King and Matt Kroul representing the defense, Rob Bruggeman for the offense and Jayme Murphy for special teams. Ferentz said Dan Doering, Tony Moeaki, Michael Sabers and Trey Stross will more than likely be withheld because of injuries.
Approximately 1,700 tickets remain for the game against Florida International, which is expected to reach sellout status later in the week.