Dec. 22, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Head coach Kirk Ferentz and the rest of the University of Iowa football coaching staff has the undivided attention of the Hawkeye student-athletes for 11 days preceding the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2.
Finals have ended, commencement has concluded, so the attention is football, football, and more football.
“They are working hard and I’m happy with the start,” Ferentz said Monday at a gathering with media in the Richard O. Jacobson Football Operations Building. “Right now it’s like preseason training where it is Iowa versus Iowa. We are working on our fundamental base and making good decisions under fire. We have spent very little time on Tennessee, but we’ll start putting our foot in the water a little bit there.”
Iowa is making its 12th bowl appearance in 16 seasons under Ferentz. During that time the Hawkeyes are 6-5 in the postseason — the best winning percentage of any program in the Big Ten Conference. While Tennessee has one current player that has participated in a bowl game, no current Hawkeye has played on a bowl championship team.
“I remember our first bowl game in 2001 and how excited we were about the opportunity. I hope our guys are equally excited. If it ever gets old all we have to do is look back two winters ago when we had to sit home — that wasn’t much fun. You appreciate the opportunity, it is something you have to earn. For us, we haven’t had anybody play in a (bowl) game that we have won, so that is our incentive.”
UI head football coach
“I remember our first bowl game in 2001 (a 19-16 win over Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl) and how excited we were about the opportunity,” Ferentz said. “I hope our guys are equally excited. If it ever gets old all we have to do is look back two winters ago when we had to sit home — that wasn’t much fun. You appreciate the opportunity, it is something you have to earn, and there is no given there. For us, we haven’t had anybody play in a (bowl) game that we have won, so that is our incentive.”
The motivation to return to a postgame celebration in the TaxSlayer Bowl goes hand-in-hand with sending an outstanding class of Hawkeye seniors off on a high note. It will also provide motivation during off-season workouts for the returnees.
“Our thoughts aren’t that much about next year as they are about this football team. We want to send our seniors out on a positive note,” Ferentz said. “Any time you win a bowl game it is a positive experience and I know Tennessee is looking at it the same way regardless of how your season went or what your record was. To have that opportunity is a good thing. Any time you win a bowl game it adds more octane to the out-of-season program.”
In personnel news, Ferentz said senior running back Damon Bullock — injured against Wisconsin on Nov. 22 — will not play in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Bullock rushed for 74 yards in 10 games and caught 32 passes. Sophomore running back LeShun Daniels, Jr., is expected to see action after missing five games with a foot injury. Linebacker Travis Perry, injured in the final minute at Minnesota, has a chance to return for the bowl. Perry made 19 tackles in nine games.
Ferentz said redshirt freshman wide receiver Derrick Willies (four catches, 71 yards, one touchdown) is going to pursue other playing options and will not return to the UI in January.
“There is plenty of good news, but it seems they are doing a little better,” Ferentz said of the running backs.
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