Dec. 22, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team took a step back to recharge before beginning preparation for the 2016 Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California.
“It was important for the guys to have two weeks to back away, relax, unwind, take care of academics and their social lives before starting to get back into football,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz at a Tuesday news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center.
“The mental part was every bit as important as the physical part. Coming out of camp, we went 14 weeks — 13 of those we had games — and it takes something out of you.”
The Hawkeyes depart for Los Angeles on Dec. 24, beginning a week filled with preparation and bowl-sponsored events. Iowa will partake in events at Disneyland, attend an Improv Comedy Club, and enjoy perks of playing in the “Granddaddy of Them All.”
Ferentz wants the Hawkeyes to soak up the experience, but remain focused, on Stanford — the Pac-12 Conference champion.
“The first objective is to enjoy the events. All bowl games are tremendous, but it doesn’t get any better than the Rose Bowl,” said Ferentz. “I know we’ll receive great hospitality and opportunities to take in some of the things that are unique to Southern California.
“The other part is trying to get ready for the game and having the focus that it takes to prepare well. We have to get our preparation down and be prepared to play the kind of football that is representative of the kind of football team we’ve had this season.”
The style Ferentz is talking about is one that led to a school-record 12 straight victories, an undefeated regular season and a Big Ten Conference West Division title.
The 102nd Rose Bowl will be the first meeting between the Hawkeyes and Stanford. The Cardinal are 11-2 overall with one of their defeats coming against Northwestern (16-6) in the regular season opener. Iowa handled the Wildcats, 40-10, on Oct. 17.
“It was the first game of the year and (Stanford) had a lot of young guys on the defensive side in that game,” Ferentz said of Stanford’s loss to the Wildcats. “They’re such a different team, that’s a big thing. Unfortunately, the film isn’t going to give us much help.”
Ferentz is pleased by what he sees from senior running back Jordan Canzeri in the early portion of bowl preparation. Canzeri was injured in the first quarter and didn’t return in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State on Dec. 5.
“Based on what I have seen, I am encouraged,” said Ferentz. “We’re 10, 11 days out, so time is on our side. Hopefully he’ll have the pop and explosion we need to be successful at that position.”
Ferentz was pressed about the College Football Playoff and his opinion on expanding the four team field.
“I think where we are at is good for college football,” said Ferentz. “I don’t know why we need more — we’re the fifth team according to the rankings. We had our opportunity and came up three points short. Hopefully next year, we can push over that wall.
“We’re not looking back. We’re where we are at and we’re excited about it. We’re excited to make the most of this next opportunity.”
The 2016 Rose Bowl Game will begin at 4:10 p.m. (CT) from Rose Bowl Stadium on Jan. 1, 2016. The game will be televised on ESPN.