Oct. 28, 2014
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — You won’t find University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz living in the past when it comes to Northwestern, Saturday’s ANF Game opponent.
“Since I have been back, it has been a tough series,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “A lot of people make the mistake of living in the past. Since 1995, these guys have been good. They have a proud tradition and are a good program.”
The Hawkeyes dominated the series for two decades from 1974-94, winning 21-straight before Northwestern won three consecutive games from 1995-98. Since Ferentz took over at Iowa in 1999, Northwestern has won seven of 13 contests.
Four of the last six meetings have been decided by seven points or less, including Iowa’s 17-10 overtime victory in Iowa City last season. The series resumes at 11:01 a.m. (CT) Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium. Iowa brings a 5-2 overall and 2-1 Big Ten record into the matchup; Northwestern is 3-4, 2-2. Both teams were idle last week.
“We have a big challenge on our hands,” said Ferentz. “We’re playing a very good Northwestern team. They’re well-coached, play hard, and work extremely well. We’re going to have to be at our best and expect a tough contest.”
Ferentz says that redshirt freshmen Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley are next in line to complement seniors Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock in the offensive backfield. Parker is third on the team with 94 yards on 10 attempts; Wadley has yet to carry the ball.
“We’ll have to have everybody available because we’re running out of guys,” said Ferentz. “It would be great to come up with a couple of big plays in the run game, but you keep chipping away. We have to play good, clean football and not turn it over.”
After surrendering 528 yards on the ground against Indiana and Maryland, Ferentz says the Hawkeyes need to get back to their fundamentals.
“It’s a lot of little technique things and angles,” said Ferentz. “Even if you give up six, seven, or eight-yard gains, they aren’t going to kill you. If they go beyond that, those take their toll.
“In the first game (against Northern Iowa), we gave up three passes for over 200 yards and Indiana had three rushes for over 200 yards; that’s a big hole to climb out of and it puts a lot of pressure on your football team.
“Bottom line is we have to play better fundamentally, and in conference play, if you can’t do that, it’s going to be a tough one. If you look around the conference, there are no days off, so you better be ready to play every week.”
Iowa’s defense will change its starting lineup for the second time this season when redshirt freshman Josey Jewell is expected to make his first career start at the weak-side linebacker position in place of Reggie Spearman, who will miss two games because of an off-the-field issue.
“Josey has played well when he has been out there and has been doing a good job on special teams,” said Ferentz. “(Spearman’s absence) will increase Cole Fisher’s role and Travis Perry is a guy we can put around there, too. I wouldn’t be shocked if all three guys played at some point.”
Ferentz also answered questions related to redshirt freshman Derrick Willies’ desire to transfer, saying the program will support him as he moves forward.
Saturday’s game will be televised on BTN with Eric Collins, Chuck Long, and J Lehman on the call. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS or visiting www.hawkeyesports.com.