Riding a string of four consecutive January bowl games the Iowa Hawkeyes hope to contend for the Big Ten title during the upcoming football season. The Hawks have a number of key players returning but lost several standouts off last year’s team that finished 7-5 after a loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz who is entering his eighth season, says the defense is the area where they have the most holes to fill. Ferentz says the key is to put in the younger players and see how things work together.
The defensive line is experienced but Ferentz says defensive end Kenny Iwebema is not practicing. Ferentz says he is holding out Iwebema as the player has “some personal items that he has to get cleaned up before he can come back to the practice field.”
Ferentz says one goal for the Hawkeyes is to play better in September. They have opened with a two-and-two record the past two seasons. Ferentz says they won’t radically change what they’re going to do, but maybe will insert a few more competitive periods to raise the tempo in practice. Ferentz says they’ll try to raise the concentration a little bit.
Ferentz says the program has reached a point where they have high expectations every season but like the last few years the key will be winning close games. He says realistically they have a couple of teams at the top of the conference, and several in the middle, including his team.
Among they key players back on offense is junior running back Albert Young who led the Big Ten by averaging just over 125 yards per game. Young says after putting in all the hard offseason work, the guys are ready to play football.
The Hawks are ranked 17th in the pre-season coaches poll but Young says none of that matters before the season. Young says the success of recent years has made the Hawkeyes a marked team. He says teams recognize Iowa is a good team and he says the Hawkeyes will be up for the challenge.
The Hawks open September second at home against Montana.