By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Saturday will be the Kinnick Stadium swan song for seniors Akrum Wadley, Josey Jewell, and Matt VandeBerg.
It will also be a farewell for lesser known Hawkeyes Daniel Gaffey and Jake Hulett when Iowa hosts Purdue on Senior Day at 2:40 p.m. (CT).
“Every year you have a lot of guys that are very well-known that have played a lot of football and other guys whose stories aren’t as known,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said during his Tuesday news conference in the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center.
“Dan hasn’t hit the field in a meaningful snap and Jake hasn’t played an awful lot, but those guys have been in the program, worked every bit as hard as everybody else, and they do a great job day-in and day-out.”
The Hawkeyes have 18 seniors who will be honored as part of the pregame festivities. It is a class that has won 33 games and qualified for a bowl game in each of their five seasons.
“We have nothing but admiration for any player that goes through the program, graduates from the university, and does a great job representing our program and the athletics department,” said Ferentz. “Hats off to them, it will be great to honor them Saturday.”
The Boilermakers won’t be a Senior Day pushover.
Purdue brings a record of 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten into Iowa City under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm. Four of the six Boilermaker losses have been by a single possession.
“They’re a good football team,” said Ferentz. “Since their bye week, they have been playing good football. They played Wisconsin closer than anybody thus far. They gave (Wisconsin) the best game and played them the most competitively in Madison.
“They’re playing for a bowl opportunity, so we know we have our hands full when they come to Kinnick on Saturday.”
Brohm is known for his offensive ingenuity, but it has been the Boilermaker defense that has made the biggest jump in 2017. Purdue is tied for 19th nationally in scoring defense, surrendering 19.3 points, and ranks 44th in total defense — one spot ahead of the Hawkeyes.
“They catch your eye offensively, they move the ball well, are wide open, and you have to defend a million things when you play against them,” said Ferentz. “To me, the real story is their defensive improvements.
“I am impressed with the tempo they play with, the aggressiveness, and they’re a fundamentally sound team. To not give up points, you have to be, and it’s impressive.”
Iowa has won four straight and nine of the last 11 meetings in the all-time series. The Hawkeyes were victorious in a shootout, 49-35, last season in West Lafayette, Indiana.
On the injury front, sophomore safety Amani Hooker’s playing status for Saturday’s game is in jeopardy. He missed last week’s game at Wisconsin and has yet to make it back out to the practice field this week.
Tickets are available for Saturday’s game by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS or visiting hawkeyesports.com/tickets. The game will be televised on BTN with Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, and Lisa Byington on the call.