Iowa football looks to early Big Ten matchup in Week 2

The Hawkeyes have their earliest conference game in the Ferentz era this weekend, posing challenges for both teams.

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Iowa football looks to early Big Ten matchup in Week 2

 Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz looks to the stands during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz looks to the stands during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz looks to the stands during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz looks to the stands during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

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Iowa football kicks off its Big Ten schedule this week against Rutgers in a rare, Week 2 conference matchup without some major playmakers due to opening game injuries.

Hawkeye athletes and head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke on Tuesday about their expectations for the weekend and building on the success from the game against Miami (Ohio), as well as moving forward from missing guys on the field.

Injury Update

The Hawkeyes had two returners not dress last week against Miami (Ohio), in Cole Banwart and Julius Brents. Banwart is day-to-day with a shot to play on Saturday, Ferentz said.

As for the in-game injuries, Alaric Jackson’s injury is just a sprain and he will be out for a couple weeks, per Ferentz, but will be looked at as the season moves on.

“I think it’s realistic [for him to be back against Middle Tennesee], but everybody heals differently,” Ferentz said. “The good news is it doesn’t look like we’re looking at surgery, so that’s a good thing, and just hopefully he goes a little faster than everybody hopes or thinks.”

Riley Moss’ injury was more significant, as he will miss 4-6 weeks.

Prepping for the Big Ten slate

This is the earliest Iowa has faced off against a conference foe in head coach Kirk Ferentz’s tenure, posing challenges and pressures for the team early in the season, but it’s a chance to play physical, Big Ten football.

“They’re very physical too,” Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley said. “They’ve got a lot of good players and as far as them starting out that last game, it’s not uncommon. The teams take a little bit to get their feet under themselves.”

Physicality is the key thing Iowa has seen and practiced during practice in the early week. Rutgers’ defensive line is physical, the running game is aggressive, and its new quarterback has made things happen downfield to create points.

The conference aspect is always in the back of the minds of everyone on the team, whether they’ll be on the sidelines or midfield on Saturday, but as a Week 2 matchup, it’s key to focus internally and make things happen to get better come October and November.

“It’s just another opponent; I don’t worry about it that it’s Big Ten, I just look at it as another opponent,” Hawkeye wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette said. “Obviously, it comes with more of an impact because it’s in the conference, but I just look at it as next week it’s just another opponent. It’s just another day.”

The biggest thing going into this weekend is that the importance in conference implications can’t be lost this early. Both teams face the same challenges going into the weekend.

“It is different,” Ferentz said. “Any time you’re in a conference game, it’s a significant thing. You only get nine of those, you get 12 games total but nine conference games, so that’s really important.

“It’s kind of like to me, the month of September, especially, is just about really focusing on trying to improve and put things together, tie up the loose ends, those types of things. And I’m sure they’re fighting the same battle, though.”

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