Bye week: Players have chance to watch on TV

Oct. 9, 2010

By RICHIE ZAWISTOWSKI

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It could be tailgating before a home game at Kinnick Stadium. It could be sitting on the couch watching a game on television. Whatever the case, all University of Iowa fans share the common denominator that Saturday means Hawkeye football.

With Iowa having a bye this weekend, fans will not get to see their beloved Hawkeyes do work on the gridiron. With the game day off, players get a chance to be like all the other college football-junkies. So what will be the best part of the bye week for the players?

“Probably the big thing is just lay around and sleep in,” said free safety Brett Greenwood. “Watching college football is a fun thing that as football players we really don’t have an opportunity to do; just being a fan of college football.”

The bye also will give players a chance to rest, both physically and mentally.

“The best part is to completely be relaxed both mentally and physically I think that’s’ what I’m looking forward to the most,” said fullback Brett Morse. “Just waking up whenever, not setting an alarm. Sleeping without an alarm is awesome. I can’t remember the last time I did that.”

Sleeping in, laying on the couch watching football. Sounds like a great Saturday. What else could be missing?

Family and food.

“I’m going to head home and see my little brother and my family,” said wide receiver Marvin McNutt. “Get some of mom’s home-cooked meals, right off the stove. Saturday she’s making honey hot fried wings, with macaroni and cheese and sweet potatoes.”

The big matchup in the Big Ten Conference this weekend is between Michigan and Michigan State. It just happens that Iowa’s next opponent is Michigan.

“It’s going to be kind of weird to actually get a chance to watch a lot of college football this weekend,” said McNutt. “I’m definitely going to be tuning in to the Michigan-Michigan State game.”

With most weeks have Iowa thinking about other teams and ways to attack the opposition, a bye week gives a chance for some self-recognition. Even with its next opponent Michigan playing a game, this week is about the Hawkeyes.

“I’m going to head home and see my little brother and my family. Get some of mom’s home-cooked meals, right off the stove. Saturday she’s making honey hot fried wings, with macaroni and cheese and sweet potatoes.”
UI wide receiver
Marvin McNutt

“With a week like this when you do get away from the opponent and the focus is more on yourselves,” said offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde, “You kind of have to get back into that mindset that this is Iowa, and the first and most important thing we have to do is worry about us.”

While Iowa can focus on themselves this week, the game at Michigan is a week away. While Iowa gets to watch Michigan on television, watching a game on the tube is hardly the same as being at the football complex studying film, especially for a player like Vandervelde.

“It’s difficult because you do want to pick things apart,” said Vandervelde. “You do want analyze the other teams and try and get a jump on them, but with camera angles and the camera constantly following the ball instead of staying on the line, it’s kind of difficult as a linemen to pick things up.”

That is not to imply that the players won’t gain any insight from watching games on television. As a lineman, Vandervelde said the main thing he looks for is the intensity that teams play with. Once he gets a good idea of the intensity teams play with, he looks to at least match that intensity, if not bring more.

For a position that might see the ball a bit more, there might be other things that stand out. It is still not near as valuable as actual film preparation though.

“Since I’ve been playing football, I haven’t been able to watch college football the same way once I started learning the schemes and things like that,” said McNutt. “It’s hard because unless you have TIVO, you’re not going to be able to rewind and look at plays people are running or stunts they’re bringing. The way I watch football now is really looking at defenses and their techniques or wide receivers and the way they do certain things.”

Whatever the players might look for when watching games, they can rest and relax with friends and family watching on the couch like any other football fan. The players get the time off, but what about the coaches on the bye week?

“As far as I know they’re recruiting,” said Vandervelde. “The vast majority of the coaches were all out of the building Monday for recruiting. That’s a year-round process now. They never get any time off from recruiting. I think any day we get time off from football they’re usually traveling the country doing something.”

So much for the coaches having a week off.

At least the players get some time for some rest and relaxation. While today will have no Hawkeye football, the players will be sitting at home just like you watching the games.

Next week it’s back to the grind on game day Saturdays as Iowa travels to the Big House to take on Michigan. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ABC.