The last thing any team in the Big Ten should do is look at the big picture and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says the Hawkeyes are not. A week after suffering a humiliating loss at Minnesota the Hawkeyes bounced back with a victory over nationally ranked Michigan and with a victory over 13th ranked Michigan State on Saturday would be right in the hunt for the Legends Division title.
Ferentz says one week ago it didn’t look like they were even going to a bowl game, so they have to worry now about playing a good opponent, because if they don’t play well, it will be a tough day. The Spartans lead the division race and it is a team that opened Big Ten play with games against Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska and came out of that stretch with a record of 3-1.
Ferentz says the Spartans are like Michigan as they have different schemes that you have to prepare for and they have a lot of good players. He says they beat Michigan by a couple of touchdowns, which is an indication of the level of difficulty.
After a slow start to the season sophomore running back Marcus Coker is putting up big numbers for the Hawks and Ferentz says he is more decisive than he was at the start of the season. Ferentz says Coker missed a lot of practice and that meant he missed work and that means you usually don’t play well. He says it’s a matter of getting back to basics and playing to his strengths.
Ferentz says the Iowa offense did a good job of remaining balanced against Michigan and that will be important against the Spartans. He says the offense played well Saturday and they had to be balanced to move the ball. Ferentz says having people healthy makes a difference.
Iowa’s defense played its best game last week against Michigan and while Michigan State has a different style the keys to success remain the same. He says it starts with everyone being on the same page and playing to the best of their ability and play well as a group as he says they don’t have a lot of “erasers” out there.
Ferentz says the defensive line is making strides though defensive end Dominic Alvis will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL. He says the good news is that everyone else is back and in good health.
Ferentz did not want to comment on the future of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who according to the New York Times may be on his way out as coach in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal which included the arrest of his former defensive coordinator and perjury charges against two university officials.
Paterno is in his 46th season as head coach. “I’ve really been more focused on what we’re doing here,” Ferentz says.