A weekend without a game meant that Iowa football players had an unusual amount of free time during the bye week. That time off was spent in a variety of ways.
Offensive linemen Kyler Schott, Tyler Linderbuam, and Cody Ince went duck hunting.
Tight end Sam LaPorta was on the golf course for nine holes.
Quarterback Spencer Petras went to the first-ever Iowa Heartlanders game with his dad.
Wide receiver Arland Bruce IV caught up on sleep.
Iowa players got some time to themselves during the bye week. And when the Hawkeyes were on the field — they were focusing on themselves, too. Wisconsin preparation didn’t start until Sunday for Iowa, so last week was spent looking inward.
“It was a chance to get some time away and rest up,” Schott said. “It was back to our fundamentals, our basics. We were just doing it with Iowa vs. Iowa for a little bit.”
Once the Hawkeyes started preparing for the Badgers, they saw what they expected to see: a physical football team with a stout defense and a dangerous running game. Wisconsin (4-3 overall, 2-2 overall) ran for 297 yards and three touchdowns in its 30-13 win over Purdue over the weekend.
Purdue is the only team to defeat Iowa (6-1 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) this season.
“[Wisconsin] executed against Purdue better than we did,” Schott said. “We didn’t play our best against Purdue … [Wisconsin] is a chance to bounce back from two weeks ago. Everyone knows where the game is going to be won and lost — in the trenches.”
Iowa safety Kaevon Merriweather anticipates that the Hawkeyes will play a 4-3 defense more often than a 4-2-5 look this week to try and stop the Badger rushing attack, which means linebacker Jestin Jacobs will likely be on the field for most of the game.
Complimenting the Wisconsin running game is its defense. The Badgers rank first in the conference in total defense.
Iowa’s 13th-ranked offense in the Big Ten will have to try and put points on the board against what its players have called a big, physical Wisconsin front seven.
“Their defense looks like a Wisconsin defense looks like,” Petras said. “That’s a testament to them. They’re very physical and they are coached really well … A 3-4 is nothing new for the veteran guys … for the young guys that can sometimes be a challenge. There are different rules and things to learn when it’s a 3-4, which Wisconsin plays.”
The Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers last year for the first time since 2015. To keep the Heartland Trophy, Iowa will have to extend its winning streak to two years in a row.
Moss out against Wisconsin
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed that Iowa cornerback Riley Moss will not make the trip to Wisconsin on Saturday as he continues to heal from the knee injury he suffered against Penn State.
“Riley won’t make it,” Ferentz said on Tuesday. “He won’t be ready to go.”
Terry Roberts started in Moss’s place in Iowa’s loss to Purdue before the bye week. Moss, a senior, leads the Big Ten with four interceptions this season — two of which he returned for touchdowns against Indiana in the season-opener.
Roberts and fifth-year starter Matt Hankins will start at corner against the Badgers. Ferentz said that he was optimistic about Moss being back in the lineup next week against Northwestern.
“Riley is looking pretty good,” Merriweather added. “I really can’t tell you how he is feeling. As much as I’ve talked to him, he’s definitely ready to get back. He’s definitely excited to get back, and he’s doing everything he can to get back.”
Ferentz added that defensive lineman Deontae Craig is doubtful to play, while offensive lineman Cody Ince and tight end Luke Lachey are on track to play after recent injuries.
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Ferentz weighs in on nine-OT thriller
Ferentz used a Saturday away from the field as an opportunity to do something he doesn’t usually have the chance to do — watch games on T.V.
While he admitted to not paying super close attention to some of the games that appeared on his screen, the longest-tenured head coach in the FBS was intently watching the end of Illinois’ nine-overtime win over Penn State. It was the first game in Power Five history to go to nine overtimes — largely because of this year’s new overtime rule. Starting in the third overtime, both teams only attempt two-point conversion plays. Ferentz isn’t a fan of the new rule.
“That was one of those things you couldn’t take your eye off of,” Ferentz said. “I did watch.
“I had two prominent thoughts. I’m not so sure I buy this new rule change first of all. I’m not sure I liked what I was watching. Then the other thing I was amazed by, there were no commercial breaks. They went from here to there, down there, back and forth, like a tennis match. Those commercial breaks are excruciating. I don’t know if it’s as bad for you guys as it is for us.”
Bruce growing into role
Arland Bruce IV enjoys knowing that he is proving other schools wrong.
The freshman Hawkeye wide receiver said Iowa is the only school who thought he could play the position. Other programs recruited Bruce as a running back.
“Iowa is the only school that offered me as a receiver,” Bruce said. “I just like the fact that they gave me a chance at receiver. Every other school wanted me to be a running back because they thought I was too short.”
Along with Keagan Johnson, Bruce is one of two first-year wide receivers who joined the program early out of high school and are now making an immediate impact for the Hawkeyes.
Bruce has caught 10 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown this season — excelling in the screen and short-passing games, per his offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. Iowa is lining Bruce up in the slot and the “Z” receiver position evenly.
The former Kansas City Metro Player of the Year is aware of the challenge he presents when lining up in the slot.
“In the slot I’m usually against a linebacker, so I have a mismatch,” Bruce said. “I can use my speed … I came here early in hopes that I would play early,” Bruce said. “I’m really grateful I’m in the position that I’m in.”