Oct. 4, 2011
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- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Iowa Football Wallpaper
IOWA CITY, Iowa — This week brings a whole new level of intensity to the table for University of Iowa football team as the Hawkeyes head to Happy Valley for their Big Ten Conference opener at Penn State.
“I think we have played probably five good quarters of football,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz at his weekly press conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “Now the real trick is moving into conference play. These games count an awful lot, and it’s going to be a whole new level of intensity out there.
“How are we going to meet that, and how are we going to handle it? We have only played one road game, didn’t handle that situation too well. I think we are progressing. I think the attitude is good, and this is going to be a heck of a challenge for us.”
Penn State, and legendary head coach Joe Paterno, enters Saturday’s game at Beaver Stadium with a 4-1 overall and a 1-0 Big Ten record after posting a 16-10 win at Indiana on Oct. 1. The Nittany Lions employ a two quarterback system, utilizing the services of Matt McGloin (44-of-76, 625 yards, four touchdowns) and Rob Bolden (39-of-85, 455 yards, one touchdown).
“We are going into an environment that’s really tough to play in. We are going to have to be at our absolute best just to have a chance to win this football game.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“They both have done some good things,” said Ferentz, who has won three straight and guided Iowa to an 8-2 record against Penn State. “They are both a little bit different maybe, but clearly it is close enough where they have chosen to play both guys, and we have to prepare for both.”
Ferentz noted several constants of what to expect when playing Penn State.
“You know you are going to play a good team, they are going to be well coached and home or away, it’s going to be a tough game,” he said. “Typically, Penn State teams do not beat themselves — it’s been that way for 40-plus years.”
Ferentz is preparing the UI offense to face a Nittany Lion defense that he considers to be the best the Hawkeyes have faced this season. Penn State gives up 12 points and 250.4 yards per game.
“They have four seniors in their back end,” said Ferentz. “Every guy has played a lot of football and played good football. They have depth in the front, good athleticism; they play well.”
“John is probably more of a thrower, a deep-ball thrower,” said Ferentz. “John is a really quality young guy, conscientious. If he’s called upon, he’ll do a good job.”
With the emergence of fifth-year players Thomas Nardo and Jordan Bernstine, Ferentz alluded to the wait-and-see approach. Nardo had 12 tackles en route to being the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26, while Bernstine has been the spark plug for the Iowa secondary.
“You never know when a guy is going to hit stride,” said Ferentz. “If a guy works hard and has a good attitude, you never know when that day is going to come.
“You know most of the guys on our walls — Brad Banks came out of nowhere; Shonn Greene came out of nowhere. Guys come out of nowhere and that’s kind of fun. The experts can’t predict those stories, so our stories are more fun stories. We frustrate the national pundits with our stories.”
Saturday’s game is set to begin at 2:36 p.m. (CT) inside 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium. The game will be televised on ABC or ESPN, depending on location.
“We are going into an environment that’s really tough to play in,” said Ferentz. “We are going to have to be at our absolute best just to have a chance to win this football game.”