Pre-season expectations have returned for the Iowa football program after an impressive finish to the 2008 season. The Hawkeyes won six of their final seven games, including a 31-10 win over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, to finish with a 9-4 record.

Several key performers return but coach Kirk Ferentz is trying to keep the expectations in check. Ferentz says he doesn’t want to get too carried away with the pre-season euphoria. He says they have a lot of question marks after losing some quality guys on both lines. Ferentz says replacing that type of production and quality is not easy.

Ferentz says several new starters will need to have an impact if the Hawks want to contend in the Big Ten Conference race. He says the guys that are coming back will have to elevate their play. Ferentz says the season ended out successfully, but started out with the seniors stepping it up in the spring practice.

Iowa closes out spring practice on April 18th.