Hawkeyes get healthier heading into Michigan

In Tuesday’s media availability before the Michigan game, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and his players highlighted the road mentality and injuries moving forward.

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Nick Rohlman

Iowa cornerback Julius Brents (20) defends a pass intended for Minnesota wide receiver Chris Autumn-Bell (3) during Iowa’s game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Brents and fellow freshman defensive back Riley Moss both started for the first time against Minnesota and combined for three interceptions as the Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 48-31.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

With its biggest game of the season thus far in mind and the challenges of playing in a 100,000-plus capacity stadium not lost on the Hawkeyes, the Iowa football team is both mentally and physically ready for Michigan.

The noise and the return of Iowa’s secondary will be the keys to a successful week to continue the Big Ten slate.

Injury update

As it’s been stated for the past three weeks, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Iowa’s many injuries on both offense and defense.

For the offensive line, most notable is the return of Alaric Jackson, who dressed for the Middle Tennessee game but didn’t see any action outside of warmups. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said that he could start on Saturday depending on how practice goes.

Kaevon Merriweather and Julius Brents are also making gains in their recovery and are inching closer to returning to the field.

“We’ll let them work all week, see how they look, but hopefully we’ll start getting some guys back on the field instead of losing guys,” Ferentz said.

There’s a chance Brents could see playing time as early as this week.

“It would be nice to have some options at least,” Ferentz said. “I guess that’s the deal. But I really see him hopefully helping out on special teams this week, and maybe in some sub packages, things like that. But right now D.J. [Johnson] and [Michael Ojemudia] are our two. Anyway, they’re our two starters at corner right now. That’s how we’re looking at it.”

Matt Hankins and Brady Reiff are still out this week but are also moving forward, Ferentz said.

Having players returning to the secondary will be important against a tough passing game that Michigan can put up.

“It’s going to be fun the rest of the week to see who we can stick out there, but come game time, we’re going to be really comfortable with [who] we have out there,” Ojemudia said.

The Big House

Playing in an atmosphere like Michigan Stadium is something that none of these Hawkeyes have experienced before, and there are certain challenges that come with it.

“The noise is always a problem,” quarterback Nate Stanley said. “That’s something we work on throughout the week in our communication. Just the environment, I don’t know how many people it holds, 110,000, something like that, which is probably the most that I’ve ever played in front of. We have a good idea of what the environment’s going to be like and have a mental game plan for that.”

The aspect of a road game is new to the Hawkeyes, having played three of their four games within the walls of Kinnick Stadium, surrounded by black and gold.

Now, with the biggest game of the season so far coming on the road, Iowa’s mindset is focused on itself but also the confidence that is needed for road games.

“We’ve already had one hostile environment, Iowa State, but mainly with practice just getting the focus there is a big part of it, and getting the reps and repetition is kind of big for away games,” Ojemudia said.

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