Iowa football notebook: Hawkeyes prep for highly anticipated matchup with Cyclones

No. 10 Iowa and No. 9 Iowa State will square off at 3:30 p.m. at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames this Saturday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz commands his team during a football game between No. 18 Iowa and No. 17 Indiana at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 34-6.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Ahead of their AP Top 10 showdown with Iowa State Saturday, members of the Iowa football team and Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz met with reporters Tuesday to preview the game, discuss what it means for the state of Iowa, and examine what’s up for grabs on the field this weekend.

No. 10 Iowa vs. No. 9 Iowa State

The Associated Press updated its top 25 poll to account for Week 1 game results after Iowa’s student-athletes spoke to reporters at 11 a.m. The Hawkeyes appeared at No. 10 in the AP’s Week 2 poll, while the Cyclones clocked in at No. 9.

Ferentz held his weekly press conference with reporters at 2 p.m. — an hour after the Week 2 AP poll was released.

The 23-year coach of the Hawkeyes noted that the Cyclones have always played close games against his teams. He then brushed off suggestions that the game may carry more weight since both teams are ranked inside the AP Top 25.

 “Rankings mean a lot more in October and November,” Ferentz said. “They really mean something in January. But I think the bigger story is that you have two teams that are . . .  established. There’s a reason why they’re in the top 10 to start with.”

“You look at every position, and they’ve got good players that are experienced and know how to play,” Ferentz added. “Obviously, goal-wise, we would love to get up [high in the AP poll] and be there for a while, that type of thing. But right now, it’s more about how can we get ready for a game here at 3:36 on Saturday? That’s a race we’re running right now against a really good team.”

Breece Hall vs. Tyler Goodson

Breece Hall and Tyler Goodson are both key cogs in their teams’ respective game plans. Hall rushed for 1,572 yards in 12 games in 2020, and Goodson ran for 762 in just eight games last season. Had Goodson played a full 12-game season and maintained his 95.25 rush yards per game average, he would’ve ran for 1,143 yards in 2020.

While Goodson acknowledged that he hasn’t talked directly to Hall very much, he did say that he’s watched Hall play on TV a little bit.

“I will say I have more versatility [than Hall],” Goodson said. “He’s a big dude, has a lot of power. I can get out the backfield, catch the ball a little bit more. [I have] a little bit more agility. All around, he’s a good back as well. He can do the things that I can do as well, but I think I can do it at a better rate.”

Goodson added that he believes Iowa’s defense has the tools it needs to slow Hall down Saturday afternoon.

Spencer Petras vs. the 3-3-5 defense

Iowa State’s defense is built on the shoulders of an unusual 3-3-5 alignment, featuring three down linemen, three linebackers, and five defensive backs. The 4-3 and 3-4 defenses are more commonly seen in college football than the 3-3-5. The 4-3 defense features four down linemen and three linebackers, while the 3-4 defense boasts three down linemen and four linebackers.

“[Iowa State’s defensive alignment] affects everything you do,” Ferentz said. “It’s unique. I don’t coach there, just I’ve watched from afar, but I think that’s one of the reasons they’ve had the success. [The Big 12] overall is not known maybe as much for defense as some of the [conferences], but one of the first things I think about is the way they play defense, and they do that very well, and it leads to good results a lot of times.”

“It’s a unique preparation,” Ferentz added. “You don’t see that much. It’s not the same as last week, but we’ve had two teams that are both veteran teams, both a lot of good players and well-coached and tough preparations, tough schemes. So, it’s another week of that, and that’s a challenge.”

The Cyclones’ 3-3-5 defense also relies on what they refer to as the “star” player. The “star” in Iowa State’s 3-3-5 defense  is a linebacker-defensive back hybrid. The “star” is built big enough to drop down and serve as linebacker to help stop opposing offenses’ run games. The “star” player is also fast enough to drop back into coverage and help the Cyclones’ defense slow their opponents’ passing attacks.

This week, Iowa State’s “star” position and 3-3-5 defense have added an additional layer to Iowa’s pregame preparation.

“In the run game, there’s a lot of times when that star player is unaccounted for,” Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras said. “You know, we can’t block them, and they do a really good job of filling hard, and getting in there, and trying to make things tough on our running backs. In the pass game, cover two or cover four [defenses] are now different because they have an extra guy in the middle of the field that takes away certain things that could normally beat a cover two coverage or a cover four coverage.”

“In the pass game, it’s about being aware of that star player, and how that’s going to affect what they do and what we do, offensively, and how I have to make decisions,” Petras added. 

To help Petras and the offense succeed on Saturday, Ferentz and his staff have begun to plot out various strategies they can implement to help the Hawkeyes move the ball at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Yeah, we have to try to put a good plan together that’s going to give us a chance to execute what we think might have a chance,” Ferentz said. “But it’s not easy. We have plenty of film. The good news is, we can see most of their players on film. We have a good idea who’s going to be there. Not always sure where exactly they’re going to be or what they’re going to do, but they’re going to be well-coached and they’re going to play hard.”

Ferentz, Linderbaum provide injury updates

At the beginning of his press conference Tuesday, Ferentz mentioned that senior guard Kyler Schott will not play in Saturday’s Cy-Hawk football game.

Schott has been out since he sustained a foot injury baling hay at his home in Coggon, Iowa, in August. At Iowa Football Media Day Aug. 13, Ferentz said it’s unclear when Schott will return to the field.

“He’s probably going to miss some playing time early in this season,” Ferentz said. “I can’t tell you when, if it’ll be the second week, third week, or fourth week. But we expect him back somewhere in the first portion of the season.”

Unlike Schott, junior center Tyler Linderbaum is expected to suit up in the Black and Gold this Saturday in Ames.

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Iowan’s thigh was hit by a helmet on a Petras touchdown run in the Hawkeyes’ 34-6 win over Indiana at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City last Saturday.

Linderbaum hit the turf for a few minutes after he initially sustained the injury. He later walked off the field and into the Hawkeyes’ medical tent with no assistance from Iowa’s athletic training staff. Once he reemerged from the tent, Linderbaum rode an exercise bike for a few minutes and then returned to the field for Iowa’s next offensive drive.

Linderbaum told reporters at the Hansen Football Performance Center Tuesday that he’s received treatment for his injury and now feels “100 percent.” Linderbaum also added that he was a full participant in the Hawkeyes’ practice on Tuesday.