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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team (5-1, 2-0) practiced in Kinnick Stadium Thursday preparing for this weekend’s road contest at Maryland (4-2, 1-1).
One area to keep an eye on Saturday will be the battle in the trenches between the Hawkeye offensive line and the Terrapins’ defensive front. Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz said Maryland has a big unit that plays physical.
“They use some speed on the edge, but they want to play blocks and disrupt your game by doing what they do,” said Ferentz. “They’re not going to move a lot and get real fancy, they’re just going to try to line up and be physical with us. It should be a good match-up for us, that’s what we enjoy doing, and we’ll see who comes out on top on Saturday.”
One of Maryland’s top pass rushers is senior Andre Monroe. The defensive end is the Terrapins’ active leader in career sacks (19.5) and leading in sacks this season with five.
Ferentz said the offensive line has improved on the edges, seeing consistency at tackle the last few weeks.
“We’re playing with a young left guard (Sean Welsh) who’s making strides and improving, and we’ve gotten better at the other guard position (Jordan Walsh) as well. There’s still room for improvement; we’re not where we want to be.”
And speaking of Walsh, Ferentz provided an update on the junior health after leaving last Saturday’s game due to injury.
“Jordan practiced all week. I think he’s in a pretty good place,” Ferentz said.
Moving the chains and keeping the offense on the field is crucial to any team’s success. Ferentz says the offensive line has demonstrated good technique and fundamentals in third and fourth-and-short situations this season.
“When you’re converting a short yardage situation where you’re going to hand the football off, you certainly need good assignment-sound football up front and then execute your assignments that you’ve chosen to use,” said Ferentz. “You have to come off the ball and move those guys. When we’ve converted, we’ve done a good job, but you also have to look at the fact that we have a 240-pound back (Mark Weisman) who’s not afraid to bust in there. He can erase some mistakes some times.”
Iowa was 4-for-4 with three touchdowns inside the red zone last week against Indiana. The Hawkeyes would like to see more of that success this Saturday against a Maryland defense that ranks third nationally in red-zone defense.
Iowa and Maryland will kick-off for the first time in history on Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) in College Park, Maryland. Watch the action on ESPN2 or listen on the Hawkeye Radio Network.
Oct. 16, 2014