Oct. 27, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Last October on the plane ride home from Michigan State, the University of Iowa football team owned a 3-3 overall record and had just dropped its second consecutive Big Ten Conference game. It was a little more enjoyable leaving East Lansing a week ago.
Since then, the No. 7-ranked Hawkeyes have climbed near the top of the collegiate football world with eight consecutive wins to begin the season and 12 straight triumphs dating back to Nov. 1, 2008. The mission at hand is to defend Kinnick Stadium, a place where the Hawkeyes have been successful in 42 of the last 50 outings.
“It will be great to be back home,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly media conference. “We knew it was going to be a tough two week segment the last two weeks. It was a tough month overall — games that we played this past month were all hard fought, competitive ballgames and the flipside is now we have a month with three home games and we have to hope our fans will do their part and we have to do our part there, also. Nothing automatic there, but that said, it’s just nice to be being at home.
No. 7 Iowa (8-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten Conference) plays host to Indiana (4-4, 1-3) on Saturday with an 11 a.m. kickoff inside Kinnick Stadium. The Hoosiers have lost four of their last five games after starting the season 3-0.
Good news for Iowa is that free safety Brett Greenwood, who has 46 tackles and three pass interceptions, is expected to be at full strength. News wasn’t quite as bright for three other Hawkeyes. Senior offensive tackle Dace Richardson and redshirt freshman Adam Robinson are likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Junior wide receiver/punt returner Colin Sandeman will be continually evaluated this week, but he will be held out of practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Brett Greenwood should be fine,” Ferentz said. “He’s a little sore right now but we expect him to be full speed. Colin is probably going to take the week to determine. I’m not overly optimistic right now, but he’s fine. Everything has checked out fine. They examined him with CT scans and all that stuff. He’s clear there. So that’s all good news.”
“We’re running out of bodies. In the backfield it’s not a real crowded room right now. We’re down two tailbacks, so we’re open to anything right now. We don’t have a lot of guys in the room so it’s not like we have a lot of directions to turn right now.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
The loss of Robinson to a severe ankle injury is especially discouraging. Not only was he leading the team with 653 rushing yards and five touchdowns, but now the depth in the offensive backfield is a question.
“We’re running out of bodies,” Ferentz said. “In the backfield it’s not a real crowded room right now. We’re down two tailbacks, so we’re open to anything right now. We don’t have a lot of guys in the room so it’s not like we have a lot of directions to turn right now.”
The setback to Robinson should open the door for more repetitions and carries for true freshman Brandon Wegher, who has impressed with 360 rushing yards (three touchdowns) and 11 pass receptions for 90 yards.
“Brandon’s the next guy in,” Ferentz said. “I’m really impressed with him and based on the limited exposure we have had so far, my guess is he’ll rise to the challenge. I think he’s that kind of football player — very tough minded. That’s just how it goes and that’s one thing we have done well this year. We have weathered the bumps and guys have stepped up and gotten the job done. That’s probably as good a thing as we ever done this year. It’s really been impressive and I think we’ll do the same this week.”
Iowa will be at home for three of the next four games, beginning with the match-up against Indiana. The Hawkeyes won last season in Bloomington, 45-9, but Indiana was victorious, 38-20, on its most recent trip to Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 29, 2007. The rest of the schedule includes games against Northwestern (Nov. 7), at Ohio State (Nov. 14) and against Minnesota (Nov. 21).
“It’s easy to find us now,” Ferentz said. “If we continue to win — I can tell you from experience — it creates more chaos.”
Hawkeye captains for the fourth consecutive week — and the eighth time this season — are senior linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds, senior tight end Tony Moeaki, and junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi.