Dec. 30, 2009
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MIAMI — Making progress.
That’s how University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz assessed the Hawkeye football team following its third practice at Barry University on Wednesday.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress,” Ferentz said. “It’s certainly good to be outdoors.”
Ferentz met with media members for the first time since it was announced Dec. 5 that Iowa would face Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl. Ferentz was in a relaxed and good-humored mood, frequently joking with reporters.
When told that Hawkeye players wanted to take their coach to South Beach, Ferentz replied, “Are they buying? If they’re buying, I’ll go. I don’t think any of us can afford it. That’s one nice thing about being here; They’ve got a big deal (concert by Lady Gaga) at our hotel on New Year’s Eve, right? Our guys would last about five minutes at that money-wise. We can’t hang in this climate, I’ll tell you that. I’ve heard anywhere from $450 to $800 for general admission, so their bowl per diem isn’t anywhere close to that. I think we’re all safe.”
Aside from the weather, another modification the Hawkeyes have dealt with is their practice routine. Ferentz said the staff and players feel a bit “discombobulated.”
“I don’t know if it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It’s kind of like Thursday for us, but it’s kind of like a Sunday, too, because tomorrow is our Monday game week-wise,” Ferentz said. “This is really strange. It’s been strange for about two weeks now, trying to get our bearings straight.”
Aside from a Thursday morning weight-lifting session, the Hawkeye student-athletes will have New Year’s Eve off. A few players have already had a brush with celebrities. Prior to Wednesday’s practice, Lady Gaga was seen entering the team hotel, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Others spoke with actor/rhythm & blues singer Jamie Foxx.
“Jamie Foxx rode up next to a couple of the guys the other day and asked if they were football players because they’re all large guys,” Ferentz said. “That’s not something that happens too often in Iowa City.”
Ferentz said the team is in good shape with injuries, including offensive lineman Dace Richardson. The Hawkeyes rested some players today.
“(Dace) isn’t to game speed yet, but he’s getting closer,” Ferentz said. “He’s been working pretty extensively this past week, so we’ll see what the next couple days bring.”
One reporter asked what Ferentz could tell him about wide receiver Trey Stross.
“What would you like to know?” Ferentz asked. “He’s about 6-foot-1 and I think he’s an Aquarius. He’s a little bit limited right now, but we expect everyone to go.”
Stross is pictured twice in an exclusive photo gallery on hawkeyesports.com from Wednesday’s practice. In those pictures, Stross is on the receiving end of two pass receptions in the end zone.
It is easy to see where Ferentz picked up a portion of his humor. One guest at Wednesday’s practice was Red Kelin, the linebackers coach at Connecticut when Ferentz was a player there. After being introduced by his former player, Kelin received a rousing round of laughter when he delivered a brief message.
“I think you’re ready, fellas,” Kelin said. “I say take the next three days off and go to the beach.”
That’s as likely as Ferentz getting on stage to sing a duet with Lady Gaga tomorrow evening.