By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was great to play at Purdue on Saturday and it will be great to play at home against Northwestern on Oct. 31, University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said.
But the strange 2020 season will get even stranger when the Hawkeyes compete for the first time in the typically electric Kinnick Stadium.
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“We’re used to the energy and juice you get playing in Kinnick, so that’s not going to be there,” Ferentz said Sunday. “Because of that, we’re going to have to make sure we bring it and provide the energy and do that through our play.”
In their Big Ten openers Oct. 24, Iowa lost at Purdue, 24-20, and Northwestern defeated Maryland in Evanston, Illinois, 43-3.
"What we need to do now is take the mistakes from (Saturday) and get those cleaned up, then we have to make this week a big week of improvement."Kirk Ferentz, Iowa head football coach
“The good news is, we’re playing and we’re playing against a team that got off to great start,” Ferentz said. “Anytime you play Northwestern, you know it is going to be a tough, competitive football game.”
The Hawkeyes won at Northwestern last season, 20-0.
Since Iowa defeated Southern California in the Holiday Bowl, 302 days passed before getting back on a playing field at Purdue. The Hawkeyes racked up 460 yards of offense, but two fumbles inside the Boilermaker 30-yard-line, coupled with 10 penalties for 100 yards, made for a tough finish.
“It makes the hill that much harder to climb and we made the thing a little too steep,” Ferentz said. “What we need to do now is take the mistakes from (Saturday) and get those cleaned up, then we have to make this week a big week of improvement, especially because of the way the preseason was this year. The teams that are smart and do things right will have an opportunity to make a big improvement in the first couple weeks of the year.”
Ferentz saw positives on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams. He said the team came out of the Purdue game healthy and the Hawkeyes could regain the services of an offensive and defensive player for the Northwestern game.
“We should get (linebacker) Seth Benson and (offensive lineman) Jack Plumb back,” he said. “They weren’t able to travel last week but they should be able to rejoin the team and get a good week of work in. It will be good, especially at linebacker, we’re a little depleted now. Seth helps on special teams, too, and Jack gives us better depth in the offensive line.”