Every Summer Second is Vital

June 22, 2011

Hawkeyes talk about June conditioning

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Summer officially began Tuesday. To University of Iowa senior right tackle Markus Zusevics — who some would say begins his real “work” Sept. 3 — that means every second, every minute and every hour is an essential opportunity to develop.

With just over 70 days before the Hawkeyes entertain Tennessee Tech in the 2011 season-opener, Zusevics is throwing around the word vital to describe the phase the team is currently in. And so far, so good, according to the 6-foot-5 senior from Arlington Heights, Ill.

“We’re getting a lot of work done,” Zusevics said. “It’s about cranking up our conditioning and our work volume and getting ready for camp. It’s vital because everyone is training right now and we have to stay ahead of our competition and keep working every day.”

Zusevics was among a handful of Hawkeyes who met with media Tuesday afternoon outside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. He is also one of five players who has starting experience on the UI offensive line. The others are junior left tackle Riley Reiff, senior left guard Adam Gettis, junior center James Ferentz and sophomore right guard Nolan MacMillan.

“We’re excited about our offense. We can’t wait,” Zusevics said. “It helps that we have (running back Marcus Coker) back and we have a bunch of linemen returning. Riley did a great job last year and so did James, Gettis and Nolan. We’re all excited to work hard and run the ball.”

As a freshman, Coker rushed for 622 yards and three touchdowns and was named the offensive most valuable player following a 27-24 victory over Missouri in the Insight Bowl. Iowa averaged 234.5 yards per game through the air and 148.4 on the ground last season. The rushing total was an average of nearly 47 yards a game more than its opponents.

According to Zusevics, sophomores Conor Boffeli (center) and Brett Van Sloten (right tackle) add quality depth to line. And all of the Hawkeyes understand the importance of June toil translating to triumph in September, October and November.

“This is the time when we work hard and it pays off during the season and late in the season. All the work we put in right now” Zusevics said. “This is a time when you can set yourself apart with how hard you work and how focused you are in your training.”

Zusevics is one of four seniors listed as starters for the Hawkeye offense.

“This is the last go-around and it’s almost kind of surreal,” Zusevics said. “I remember walking in here as a freshman and this is my last one. It’s exciting because these are my best friends and we all like to work hard and get after each other. We know that how hard we work now will show up later. Every other team in the Big Ten is training hard and we can’t waste any days.”

Last season Iowa won seven of its first nine games and finished 8-5. How good can the 2011 Hawkeyes become?

“We’ll be as good as we make ourselves,” Zusevics said. “It all starts now and it’s day-to-day. If we’re slacking right now, it will show up later.”