Kirksey, Hawkeyes Prepare for Penn State

Oct. 17, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior linebacker Christian Kirksey is looking forward to Iowa’s only primetime game of the season Saturday night as the Hawkeyes host Penn State (7:05 p.m., BTN) in Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes have played one night game in Kinnick Stadium each year of Kirksey’s career, and he says the atmosphere is better than ever for night games.

“It’s a great environment when we get a chance to play a night game at home,” said Kirksey, following Wednesday’s practice. “The student section will be on fire. As a team we are excited about the opportunity as well.”

Kirksey has started all six games for the Hawkeyes at outside linebacker and has started 19 straight games over the past two seasons. He is currently fourth on the team in tackles with 14 solo stops and 23 assists. Kirksey had an interception return for 68 yards in Iowa’s win over Minnesota for his only career touchdown.

Kirksey knows the Iowa defense has a tough challenge ahead on Saturday night.

“Last year at Penn State was a physical battle,” said Kirksey. “We’re a young team, we have to keep our focus. We know Big Ten games are going to be physical. We have to practice hard to be prepared for that Saturday night.”

The Hawkeyes dropped a 13-3 decision at Penn State a year ago, but this week face the Nittany Lions after consecutive wins over Minnesota and Michigan State. Kirksey has teamed with fellow juniors James Morris and Anthony Hitchens to provide Iowa with a solid trio of linebackers.

“We watch film together, we prepare together so we know we are seeing the same things,” said Kirksey. “We all came in together in the same class. We’ve been through spring practice together, through camp, now we’re having fun being out there in games playing together.”