Sept. 6, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz called the season-opening win against Tennessee Tech “a good start,” but cautioned that things will get tougher Saturday at Iowa State.
Both the Hawkeyes and Iowa State are 1-0 after winning at home Sept. 3. Iowa defeated the Golden Eagles, 34-7, and the Cyclones defeated Northern Iowa, 20-19.
The Hawkeyes have won three in a row and six of the last eight in the series. Iowa won, 35-7, last season in Kinnick Stadium and 35-3 in its most recent trip to Jack Trice Stadium.
Ferentz met with media Tuesday inside the Player’s Auditorium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex. You could nearly substitute the same answers from Ferentz when he was asked about how various position groups or players performed against Tennessee Tech.
“It was a good start. It will be tougher this week,” said Ferentz, when asked about junior quarterback James Vandenberg. “The environment’s going to be tougher, and the opponent’s going to be a lot tougher. So it will be a tough step forward for us.”
“Again, it was a good start, a positive start,” said Ferentz, when asked about the Hawkeye defensive line. “But it will be tougher this week, and I don’t say that with any disrespect to Tennessee Tech. But if you look at their players compared to what we’re going to see this week, we’re going to be outweighed. I haven’t done the math on it yet, but we’re going to get dwarfed here up front.”
Iowa owns a 39-19 advantage in the series, including 23-11 since play resumed in 1977. This is the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series battle, and it doesn’t matter to Ferentz what the trophy looks like — or if there is a trophy at all.
“They could put a whatever out there,” Ferentz said. “Just anything, a piece of paper, it’s still big. It really doesn’t matter to us.”
And Ferentz doesn’t expect many of the 55,000 spectators to act like they are attending a tennis match. He said it will be much the same as when Vandenberg made his first start at Ohio State in front of 105,455 in 2009.
“It will be similar. It will be every bit as loud. You couldn’t hear yourself think. We’ve been through that, so it’s hard. It’s just hard,” Ferentz said of the atmosphere at Jack Trice Stadium. “It’s a lot easier if things are quiet and can you communicate. The home fans are usually pretty polite when you’ve got the ball, but it’s just the other way around. They don’t cheer at tennis matches, do they? I mean, you’re not allowed to talk until it’s like golf. You can’t make noise until it’s the appropriate time.”
Ferentz agreeded with a reporter’s statement, calling the 2011 Cyclones the best team yet for third-year head coach Paul Rhoads.
“They’re third year into the program with a lot of good players back that have played well for them,” Ferentz said. “They’ve had a lot of good moments, so we’re going over there expecting a real tough game. We know we have a lot of work right now too, so it’s going to be a real test for us.”
Vandenberg played against the Cyclones as both a freshman and sophomore, combining to complete 2-of-4 passes for 38 yards. This will be the third time in his career that Vandenberg has played in a game outside Kinnick Stadium.
“This is our first road trip, so we have to do a really good job preparing this week,” Vandenberg said. “We simulate noise all the time in practice. From an offensive standpoint, stuff is already built in, whether it’s signals…if you can’t hear, it’s just natural you give a signal.”
Vandenberg completed 13-of-21 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the season-opener.
UI sophomore running back Marcus Coker did not play against Iowa State a year ago. Coker said it is easy to focus on the Cyclones because they have such a good team.
“Getting our game plan down and executing it well is the focus,” Coker said. “Every game is a big game, but this one is obviously against a really good team.”
Coker carried the ball 11 times for 41 yards last Saturday, but uncharacteristically fumbled twice.
“I’m not sure what everybody’s expecting. If they’re expecting 220 yards a game, that’s not realistic,” Ferentz said of Coker. “We’ve been around Marcus now for over a year. He’s a tremendous young man, quality person, quality player, and he’ll bounce back would be my guess. He’ll have a great week and come back ready to go Saturday.”
Ferentz called the Iowa-Iowa State football rivalry “good for the state.”
“It’s good for football. This is one week from border to border people are talking about the game,” Ferentz said. “It’s fantastic. We’ve got a great football state from top to bottom. I think it’s a good thing.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. (CT).