Sept. 15, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — There will be several similarities when the University of Arizona and the University of Iowa square off Saturday in nonconference football inside Kinnick Stadium. Starting time is 2:35 p.m. and the game will be televised regionally by ABC and for the rest of the country by ESPN2.
Iowa has won six consecutive games, including the 2009 Outback Bowl. Arizona has won four in a row, including the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl.
Iowa is coached by Kirk Ferentz, who assisted Hayden Fry from 1981-89. Arizona is coached by Mike Stoops, a former Hawkeye All-American defensive back who played for Fry and coached with him from 1986-91.
Iowa is 2-0 this season and has scored 52 points. Arizona is 2-0 and has scored 53 points.
“If you asked (UI defensive coordinator) Norm Parker, he would say they look a little bit like us last year,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference in the player’s auditorium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “That might be fair, especially right now. They’re geared to running the football. They have guys that can catch it and they do a good job there.”
Iowa has tight ends Tony Moeaki and Allen Reisner, who have combined for 13 receptions and two touchdowns. Arizona features All-American tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has not played this season, but is listed as the starter against the Hawkeyes.
“This is a very good team that’s very talented,” Ferentz said of the Wildcats. “They look very impressive on film. That’s a credit to Mike Stoops and their entire coaching staff and their players.”
Ferentz said that his team will spend the next four practices `sharpening’ for the Wildcats.
“There are a lot of things we need to do better right now,” he said. “It’s just how football is and it’s certainly how the season is going to be. We did some things well (at Iowa State), but we’re not sharp enough right now. We’re going to have to step it up this week for sure.”
“If you asked (UI defensive coordinator) Norm Parker, he would say they look a little bit like us last year. That might be fair, especially right now. They’re geared to running the football. They have guys that can catch it and they do a good job there.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
There is still a question mark for an offensive line that helped the Hawkeyes gain 426 yards during a 35-3 pasting of in-state rival Iowa State last week. All-American candidate Bryan Bulaga is listed as the starter at left tackle, but Ferentz said he is day-to-day, along with cornerback Greg Castillo. Bulaga will miss Tuesday’s practice.
“We’ll know tomorrow and more on Thursday and right on through,” Ferentz said. “He had an illness and they’re doing checks right now. It’s just a matter of meeting certain levels and getting OK’s to move forward.”
As he has said in the past prior to coaching against Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, Ferentz does not enjoy matching wits with others from the Fry coaching family.
“It’s not a lot of fun, to be honest with you,” he said. “I would rather be playing somebody I don’t know or don’t have an association with. All that being said, we both want to win. I’m sure both of us want our teams to do well.”
Arizona holds a 6-5 edge in the all-time series that began in 1966 with a 31-20 win by the Hawkeyes. The Wildcats snapped a three-game Iowa winning streak by posting a 35-11 triumph on Sept. 19, 1998 in Tucson — the last time the teams met.
A large number of Iowans who have relocated to the state of Arizona provides the logic for the Hawkeyes occasionally playing the Wildcats and Arizona State.
When asked why he chose to schedule Arizona, Ferentz replied, “I’m not sure I had a vote on this one. I think this was probably scheduled before I got here.”
It will be “Blackout Saturday” on Sept. 19, with all Hawkeye fans encouraged to wear black. Regardless of clothing color, the Big Ten-Pac-10, Iowa-Arizona event should be one of the nation’s marquee contests of Week 3.
“This ought to be a great football game,” Ferentz said. “If we do our part, hopefully we’ll improve more this week.”