Bulaga says consistency will bring success

Aug. 12, 2009

Wednesday, Aug. 12, Practice Photo Gallery (a.m.) | Video interview with B. Bulaga

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team completed practice No. 6 on Wednesday morning — the first of two practices for the day. The Hawkeyes will have their second two-a-day of the week Friday prior to the annual Kid’s Day scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 15.

The Iowa offensive line will be counted on to open holes for a talented group of running backs while also providing quarterback Ricky Stanzi time to find the open receiver on throwing downs. One of the primary cogs of the O-line is junior left tackle Bryan Bulaga, who ESPN.com touted as the No. 5 `top player’ in the Big Ten Conference. (Click HERE to read the entry on Bulaga at No. 5.)

“That’s a great honor. There are great players in the Big Ten and to be ranked among the top 5 players is an honor,” Bulaga said.

The Hawkeye offensive line opened running lanes last season for Doak Walker Award-winner Shonn Greene to the tune of 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns. Iowa’s offense ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring (30.3 points per game), fourth in rushing offense (188.7 yards per game) and fifth in total offense (370.4 yards per game).

“I think the goals are the same. We want to be very productive on the run and the pass game and go out there every game and get the job done, regardless of who’s behind us,” Bulaga said. “We like to grind it out with long drives running the football. That’s what you want as an offensive lineman, to be able to pound it out and grind out long drives.”

Stanzi returns as the starting quarterback after completing 59.1 percent of his passes in 2008 for 1,956 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sophomore Jewel Hampton (91-463-7) and senior Paki O’Meara (21-62-2) are the two leading rushing returnees.

“Jewel is a guy coming back and Paki and (redshirt freshman) Jeff (Brinson) are all guys who have taken good reps in practice,” Bulaga said. “I know Paki’s been in the game a couple times, so we’re confident with what we have in the backfield.”

Iowa returns 48 letterwinners and 16 starters from a team that went 9-4 in 2008 and won the Outback Bowl by 21 points over Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina. The Hawkeyes have earned a No. 21 preseason national ranking by USA Today.

“It feels good, but we have to go out there and earn it,” Bulaga said. “You can say all you want about preseason polls and all that kind of stuff. The work’s going to be done on the field. The attitude we bring into camp has to be positive and we have to work hard in camp and then we’ll let the season speak for itself.”

Bulaga, a 2007 graduate of Marian Central Catholic High School, is from Crystal Lake, Ill. An imposing presence at 6-foot-6, 312 pounds, he says the Hawkeyes need to play steady ball to remain successful.

“Staying consistent, converting third downs and working hard in practice,” said Bulaga, citing keys to Hawkeye triumphs. “We need to do to do all the right things up to game day and then get the job done on game day.”

To view an exclusive 31-image photo gallery of Wednesday’s morning practice inside the Kenyon Practice Facility, click HERE.

The annual preseason Kid’s Day scrimmage will be held Saturday, Aug. 15. For more information about the scrimmage, season tickets or FryFest (Sept. 4), click HERE.

Iowa kicks off the regular season Saturday, Sept. 5, against intrastate rival Northern Iowa at 11 a.m. inside Kinnick Stadium.

2009 Iowa Football Season Ticket Application (v3a)