Aug. 31, 2012
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CHICAGO – As the Iowa Hawkeyes traveled to Chicago Friday afternoon for the opening football game of the season, one of the more anxious groups on the bus caravan was the Iowa receiving corps. Between the wide receivers and tight ends, a number of Hawkeyes will have the chance to show their skills when the Hawkeyes meet Northern Illinois at Soldier Field (2:32 p.m., ESPNU).
“It will be a passing game by committee,” said Erik Campbell, Iowa’s wide receivers coach. “There is not necessarily one player, maybe outside of (TE) C.J. Fiedorowicz, that will see a majority of time. A lot of guys will get the opportunity to play, which is best for the team. Everyone can stay fresh that way.”
As a group the Iowa wide receivers are young, but they’re also top-heavy with projected starters Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley having played fulltime last season. The duo combined for 80 receptions, 1,036 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Davis was second on the team with 713 yards and four scores on 50 receptions.
Campbell says their experience will be put to the test by Northern Illinois.
“One of the things about going against a veteran defense is that it makes you focus in your preparation,” noted Campbell. “It makes the guys focus the entire week. Our guys can watch the film; they know they (NIU) are good players. You have to be detailed and be sound in all of your assignments because of the type of defense they play.”
Behind Davis and Martin-Manley, only senior Steven Staggs (5-45) and junior Jordan Cotton (1-4) have game receptions. Junior Don Shumpert has no career catches and Jacob Hillyer is a redshirt freshmen. Those six players are expected to see the majority of playing time at wide receiver, while as many as four tight ends are also slated for playing time.
“This was a good week of practice for the group, they have come out ready to go,” Campbell said of the game week preparation. “As a group, they had a great training camp coming into game week. Now it’s close to game time; time to play someone else. Our guys are excited about that.”
Looking to Saturday’s opening game, Campbell says the numbers from last season no longer matter. “It’s always a clean slate for everyone to start a season,” said Campbell. “I’m looking forward to seeing how these guys can perform on game day.”
Iowa faces Northern Illinois inside Soldier Field tomorrow at 2:30 (CT). The game will be televised on ESPNU.