Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says he is happy to talk about football. The Hawkeyes open the season this Saturday in Chicago’s Soldier Field when they play Northern Illinois. Last week was spent dealing with off the field issues following the arrest and suspension of sophomore receivers Dominique Douglas and Anthony Bowman.
Ferentz says you never plan that type of week, and he thinks the team and staff have moved along and handled it. He says they brought some things upon themselves last week, creating a media frenzy, and Ferentz says they invited it.
Despite the loss of two players Ferentz feels good about the receivers as a group. He says they feel better about the receivers than they did last year. Ferentz says the group has been led by Andy Brodell.
The Hawks are looking to bounce back from a 6-7 record in 2006 and despite some inexperience at some poositions, Ferentz does not feel this team has any glaring weakness.
He says they are young in the offensive line and quarterback, but have seen enough of them to know they have potential, and in time can be a good football team. Sophomore Jake Christensen takes over the quarterbacking duties. He started one game last year, a victory at home over Northern Illinois.
Ferentz says it’s probably a lucky coincidence, as Northern will likely do a lot of the same things they did last year. He says Christensen has practiced well and they expect him to play well. It is expected to be a pro-Iowa crowd as better than 40-thousand Hawkeye fans are expected to be in the stadium. Ferentz says it won’t be as hostile a crowd as they usually see on the road, but it will still be a road trip.
Ferentz says the Hawkeyes have spent more time in the pre-season on kickoff coverage and kickoff returns. The NCAA is moving the line for kickoffs back five yards to the thirty. He says the rule change and the way they played on special teams last year required them to add more time.
With a large number of Chicago natives on the roster playing in Soldier Field will be a great experience for Northern Illinois. Novack says it will take people back when they first walk in. He says they’ve played in big stadiums before, but for many of the players, Soldier Field is an icon.
Novak says it won’t be intimidating for his team once the game starts. Novak says a season opener always answers a lot of questions. He says it doesn’t matter if you have a veteran team or a young team, you don’t know how the team will do until you play, as every team’s makeup is different. Novak says the Huskies are young but he likes their potential.