Nov. 23, 2010
- Iowa Football Game Day Central
- Vote for R. Stanzi as a Premier Player
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kirk Ferentz and the University of Iowa football program have had 39 players drafted into the National Football League since the 1999 season. This week, all of the Hawkeye players will feel like professionals, thanks to a break in classes as Thanksgiving nears.
“They’re like pro football players,” Ferentz said Tuesday at a weekly get-together with media in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “They’ve got a lot of time to deal with. They do have a chance to relax a little bit and rest and hopefully spend a little more time on the game plan, maybe come in and watch some film on their own.”
The No. 24 Hawkeyes (7-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten Conference) travel to Minneapolis to face the Golden Gophers (2-9, 1-6) in TCF Bank Stadium, now in its second season. Kickoff is 2:31 (CT).
“There’s time in there, but I think coach has done a good job modifying it so it fits better with everyone’s schedule,” UI senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi said. “We’re not just waiting for practice, we’re going to get here and get practice going. That gives us time later at night to catch up on some more film which will be nice and we can also get home at a reasonable hour. It’s nice for everybody to have just one thing to focus on this week.”
That one thing is a Minnesota team that is not only coming off a 38-34 win on the road at Illinois, but it is also coming off a bye week. The bronze traveling trophy Floyd of Rosedale is on the line for the 76th time.
“It’s a trophy game and that’s important,” Ferentz said. “A conference game on the road is going to be a tough challenge for us.”
Minnesota is 0-6 at home this season, but the Hawkeyes know the Gophers are a legitimate roadblock to an eighth regular-season victory. Quarterback Adam Weber, who will make the 50th start of his career, is the most experienced signal-caller in the country. He has thrown for 10,753 yards with 72 touchdowns. Junior running back DeLeon Eskridge ran for more than 100 yards against Northwestern and Penn State.
“Offensively, the first thing that stands out is their quarterback,” Ferentz said. “He’s been playing a long time and playing well for a long time. Defensively, they’re playing hard. They’ve got good size on both lines, both sides of the ball. Special teams-wise, they’ve got the best kick returner (Troy Stoudermire) in the conference.”
Stoudermire is 15th in the country with a 27.9 yard average on 28 kick returns. Iowa’s Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is second in the Big ten and 19th in the NCAA with an average of 27.1 yards per return.
A bowl berth is already secure for the Hawkeyes, but senior defensive tackle Christian Ballard isn’t interested in finishing the league slate with a .500 record.
“You don’t want to lose four games in the conference,” he said. “It would be something special to end the season with nine wins and three wins in bowl games back-to-back-to-back.”
Iowa has won eight of the last nine meetings and three in a row. The Gophers have not scored since a 21-16 win by Iowa in 2007 at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes followed that with a 55-0 victory in the Metrodome in 2008 and a 12-0 decision last season in Iowa City.
Similar to this season, Iowa was coming off two straight setbacks before it blanked Minnesota in 2009.
“Our guys are right where we would be if we had two wins,” Stanzi said. “You’re moving onto the next week and you’re focusing on what you have to do to improve your game from last week. If you keep doing that you can have a clear focus heading into each week.”
Hawkeye junior defensive end Broderick Binns — a native of St. Paul — is returning home and his ticket requests have skyrocketed.
“I have a lot of friends and family coming out of the woodwork asking for tickets,” Binns said. “I told them it’s going to be cold, so if they’re not going to stay for the whole game, they would be better off watching from home.”
Temperature at game time is expected to be in the low 30s.
“It’s really not bad for coaches and players, I’ve never understood why fans go,” Ferentz. “Coaches and players are working, it’s not that big a deal.”