Let's Go Play

Oct. 14, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz sees a parallel between the Hawkeyes first road game at Pittsburgh and Saturday’s first-ever Big Ten road test at Maryland.


“None of the guys on our team right now played (at Pittsburgh) in 2008, so that was new,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “(Maryland) will be the same thing.

“(When you get to the stadium) you look around a little bit, say, OK, it’s a stadium, and let’s go play. That’s what it gets down to.”

The Hawkeyes are 2-0 on the road this season, winning 24-20 over the Panthers on Sept. 20 and downing Purdue, 24-10, a week later in West Lafayette, Indiana. Saturday’s game is at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

“We’re playing a good football team in Maryland,” said Ferentz. “They’re a veteran team with just about everybody back from last year offensively and defensively. They’re a good team and are well-coached.”

Ferentz calls the Terrapins dynamic on special teams. Punt returner William Likely averages 22 yards per return to lead the Big Ten and rank fifth nationally, while Stefon Diggs is the top kick returner in the conference, averaging 24.4 yards per return.

“(Their special teams) will be as tough a challenge as we’ll face,” said Ferentz. “Their placekicker (Brad Craddock) is outstanding, and their return people are as good (as we’ve played). We’re going to have to be at our best on special teams to have a chance to get this done.”

Iowa is 2-0 in Big Ten play for the second time in three seasons. In 2012, the Hawkeyes began with two victories before dropping the final six contests. Ferentz says only time will tell when it comes to the 2014 squad.

“We’ve been in this position and in positions really close to this,” he said. “It’s the second half of the season that determines who we are. It’s what we do moving forward that’s going to be the key.

“We haven’t always played as well as we need to, and the big thing is how much improvement we can make in the next seven weeks. That’s what it’s going to come down to and health factors into that, too. As much as anything, it’s how much we can improve.”

A handful of players enter game week nicked up, but Ferentz believes nearly everybody will have an opportunity to be back Saturday with the exception of junior fullback Macon Plewa. Junior offensive guard Jordan Walsh and redshirt freshman wide receiver Derrick Willies both have a chance to play.

What a difference a week makes concerning the quarterback position. After a 19-of-27, 210-yard, two touchdown performance by junior starter Jake Rudock in the victory over Indiana, it wasn’t until the 35th question that Ferentz was asked about the position’s depth chart Tuesday.

“We’ll probably play C.J. (Beathard) in there somewhere,” said Ferentz. “We feel pretty good about things at that position.”

Saturday’s game will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 11:01 a.m. (CT) with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway, and Paul Carcaterra on the call.

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