Ferentz looking for `great Hawkeye stories' to emerge

July 29, 2009

Big Ten Media Days photo gallery (Tuesday)

CHICAGO — If not for the exploits of running back Shonn Greene, the emergence of center Rob Bruggeman or the development of cornerback Bradley Fletcher, the season turned in by middle linebacker Pat Angerer might have been a lead success story among the 2008 University of Iowa football team.

All four shared grand tales, leading the Hawkeyes to a 9-4 record and a lopsided victory over a Southeastern Conference opponent in the Outback Bowl. For Iowa to remain in the Nine-Win Club or above, head coach Kirk Ferentz said other interesting plots need to unfold.

“We need to have some great stories emerge,” Ferentz said at the Big Ten Conference Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. “If you go back through Iowa history, that’s usually the case.”

Last season Greene received the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back after picking up 1,850 yards on the ground with 20 touchdowns. Many of those holes were created by Rob Bruggeman, who Ferentz called one of the top centers the Hawkeyes have seen in the past decade. Fletcher recorded 60 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and three interceptions before becoming a third-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in April.

“For us to have a great year, we’re going to have to have more of those kinds of stories to surface in the coming weeks.” Ferentz said.

Angerer, a senior, was another example of a Hawkeye stepping into the limelight in 2008. Injuries and illness threatened his playing time and morale early in his career, but Angerer stayed the course, earned a spot as starting middle linebacker, and led the team with 107 tackles and five interceptions. Another great story was junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who entered camp as a back-up, rotated as the starter early in the season, and finished the year with 1,956 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and a 59.1 completion percentage.

“We have some good players coming back,” Ferentz said. “Going into this season is much like the last eight years — we have a chance to have a good football team, an opportunity to see our team develop. Like most teams, we have to replace some good players and replace some great leadership.”

In other words, the Hawkeyes need to create many more great stories , and there are plenty of potential authors within typing distance of the Hayden Fry Football Complex.

“We had a very enjoyable and successful season last year on many fronts,” Ferentz said.

On Tuesday at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Ferentz said he appreciated being associated with the Big Ten Conference and was excited about the season ahead, but emphasized that there would be a lot of work to do. Then he closed by repeating 10 words that should be music to any UI fan’s ears:

“There will be a lot of great stories this fall.”

The Hawkeyes begin their novels Sept. 5 against Northern Iowa.

2009 Iowa Football Season Ticket Application (v3a)