At least 4 true freshmen will play in opener

Aug. 31, 2010

Complete Coach Ferentz Transcript | Student-Athlete Interviews

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Some suspense has vanished, but the moral from the last season-opener has not.

On Tuesday, University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz told a gathering of reporters that true freshmen C.J. Fiedorowicz (tight end), Christian Kirksey (linebacker), Michael Meyer (kicker) and James Morris (linebacker) will see action when the Hawkeyes open the season Saturday against Eastern Illinois. Kickoff from sold out Kinnick Stadium is 11 a.m., with the game being broadcast to a national cable audience by the Big Ten Network.

“We’re trying to win football games right now, not just trying to get people’s feet wet,” Ferentz said of using the rookies. “Those four guys are set to go and we have another four to six guys that we’re looking at. We’ll just see how the week develops and take it a week at a time, but I think those guys have caught on pretty quickly and done some good things. We will try to make it worth their while to be playing.”

Although the first-year players weren’t around during last season’s 17-16 opening victory against Northern Iowa, they have undoubtedly been versed as to the difficulties of winning a football game — any football game — at the Division I level.

“The moral of the story is there are just not a lot of easy games and if you go into a game thinking it’s going to be anything less than competitive, you’re going to suffer for that,” Ferentz said. “Northern Iowa was an excellent football team a year ago, and we expect Eastern Illinois to be a really good football team to be coming in here Saturday.”

In what is hopefully a tint of positive irony, the Hawkeye teams from 1960 (8-1 overall) and 1985 (10-2) will be introduced during the game. Both of those units won Big Ten Conference championships and with expectations again soaring around the Hawkeye state…

“I think probably like everybody in the country, we are eager to get started here and find out where we’re at and we’ll go from there,” Ferentz said.

The Hawkeyes have won their last nine season-openers under Ferentz and the decisions in 2006, ’08 and ’09 came against opponents (like Eastern Illinois) from the Football Championship Series. The Panthers were 8-4 last season when they advanced to the FCS playoffs for the 13th time.

“It’s like any first game, where you are not 100-percent sure what to expect,” Ferentz said. “I’m sure they feel the same way. They returned six starters each side of the football and then they have some new faces that we don’t know a lot about that will be playing, so we’ll be feeling them out a little bit just like they will be doing the same with us.”

From a playing-time perspective, Mike Daniels could benefit most from the fact Broderick Binns will miss the season-opener. Versatile senior Christian Ballard will play both tackle and end, with Daniels most likely getting reps when Ballard moves outside.

“(Ballard) will probably play both, but our intent would be to start him outside and start Mike Daniels inside,” Ferentz said. “Mike had a real good camp and followed up a real good spring with a good camp.”

Captains for Iowa will be defensive end Adrian Clayborn, defensive tackle Karl Klug, quarterback Ricky Stanzi and offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde. Ferentz said senior center Josh Koeppel is improving after a vehicle accident Monday, but he did not think it was realistic for him to play against Eastern Illinois. Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian has returned to practice after fracturing his hand.