The Iowa Hawkeye football team has opened fall camp with the hope of repeating the record-setting success of last season, while putting a blowout loss in the Rose Bowl behind them.
Coach Kirk Ferentz talked with the media Saturday about the work ahead. “Last year was a really historic year in a lot of ways, more importantly a memorable year and a very rewarding year, and I think probably the important thing for us as a football team is to try to learn some lessons from it and hopefully we’ve done that as we approach moving forward,” Ferentz said.
The Hawks are ranked 15th in the preseason poll, after garnering little attention at the start of last year. Ferentz said his research shows how little the early polls mean.
“Of the 25 teams that were in the preseason last year, eight of them didn’t make the cut at the end, and so obviously eight teams did make it, entered in,” Ferentz said. “Probably most noteworthy I think would be Houston won 13 games, we won 12, neither us were mentioned a year ago at this point. So the thing I think our players need to understand is that door swings both ways. It opens and it closes.”
Senior quarterback C.J. Beathard is one of the reasons Iowa is expected to make another run at the Big 10 West title. Ferentz says Beathard is a lot like former Hawkeye great Brad Banks when it comes to leadership.
“I don’t know if I can articulate what it was about him, but I know this, it was really powerful, and as he went, our team really went with him. C.J. has kind of got that same characteristic. There’s just something about him,” according to Ferentz. “And the commonality there is they’re both genuine people. They’re just really genuine guys. They’ve got all the right motives and agendas. They’re just out there to help the team win, and they care about their teammates, all those things you hope a quarterback can do. And then different skill sets but yet very effective players in their own right.”
Ferentz told Radio Iowa the practices heading up to the first game will be key in determining if this season ends up as successful as last year.
“You know as mundane as this sounds, the most important thing we can do is just try to capitalize on every day in front of us. If you just look back last year…I think our team really grew in August really on lot of levels, not just as football players, our leadership base group. It was just a result of doing things right, little things right, paying attention. That’s really the challenge that’s ahead of us right now,” Ferentz explained.
Escaping all the hype and positive things said about the team in the media and online is not easy. Ferentz said his players will read and hear things, but the coaches remind them it doesn’t mean anything at this point.
“Just like last year, nobody picked us to do anything, we ended up having a really good year. And so it’s about our actions, it’s not about what people are saying negatively or positively. That’s what we try to educate our players to and then show them the illustrations that back that up,” Ferentz said.
Iowa opens the season September 3rd at home against Miami of Ohio.