By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team moves from the first season opening night game in Kinnick Stadium to the earliest Big Ten Conference game in school history.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz reflects on the Hawkeyes’ 38-14 win over Miami (Ohio) and looks ahead to a conference clash against Rutgers on Sept. 7 during his Sunday Conversation with hawkeyesports.com.
Good News on the Injury Front
All-Big Ten offensive lineman Alaric Jackson is expected to return to action at some point this season, although it will be at least a couple weeks.
The 6-foot, 6-inch, 320-pound junior left tackle made his 25th career start Aug. 31, but left the game with 4:58 remaining in the first quarter because of an apparent knee injury.
“They did tests (Sunday) and were hopeful it wouldn’t be anything overly serious,” Ferentz said. “Every injury is serious, but the good news is, it doesn’t look like it will necessitate any kind of surgery. I think we’re looking at a matter of weeks right now, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Senior Leadership Under Center
In command and in control.
That was Ferentz’s assessment of senior quarterback Nate Stanley, who completed 21 of 30 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t just Stanley’s arm that impressed his head coach.
“Maybe as good as anything is he had two opportunities to run the football and he converted those into first downs,” Ferentz said. “Those are helpful to an offensive team.”
Stanley, who was sacked once for a 15-yard loss, ran the ball four other times for 35 yards with a long of 16.
Turning a Turnover into 7 Points
Iowa senior defensive back Michael Ojemudia intercepted a pass with just under six minutes to play. The Hawkeyes went 23 yards in six plays and scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Stanley to junior Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
“We got a turnover and converted it right into a touchdown, so that was pleasing,” Ferentz said.
Praise for the Offensive Line
It was an impressive showing for the Hawkeye offensive line. Iowa gained 465 yards (252 passing, 213 rushing) and allowed just one sack.
“I think Tristan Wirfs played his best game as a Hawkeye and that was great to see,” Ferentz said. “Tyler Linderbaum hadn’t played a game at center and he played like a veteran. Those two guys helped stabilize us. Credit goes to Tristan moving to the left side when AJ (Alaric Jackson) was injured. The Paulsens (Landan and Levi) both played their best football since they have been here and that was great to see.”
Rutgers is Next
Iowa and Rutgers have one meeting in the all-time series with the Hawkeyes winning, 14-7, in 2016 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
“It is much like a first game,” Ferentz said. “At least we have one game of film (on Rutgers) and will at least see where their guys are going to line up. Early-season football is always a little tricky that way.”
Rutgers defeated Massachusetts, 48-21, on Aug. 30.