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Archive for August, 2013

Crystal-clear picture

Saturday, August 31st, 2013
The notion has been floated that it is possible that while Iowa could be a better football team this season, that may not show on the bottom line because of the challenges presented by a schedule. Today's season-opening loss to Northern Illinois illustrated that point - in high-def, for those who were glued to the big-screen replays on the new video boards at Kinnick which were a little like the team on the field. Good at times. Needing a little fine tuning at others. The crystal-clear picture of this Iowa football team indicates that the Hawkeyes have the potential to be an improved football team this fall. For two quarters, Iowa's offense showed growth. Jake Rudock enjoyed a solid debut, the running backs were effective and Damond Powell added breakaway speed that Iowa has sorely lacked among its receiving corps in recent seasons. The Hawkeyes piled up 302 yards of offense in the game's first 30 minutes -- 8.4 fewer yards than Iowa averaged per game last season. There was variety in the play calling and precision in the execution, evidence that the Hawkeyes' talk about having a better understanding of Greg Davis' offense were more than idle chatter. Unfortunately, the level of execution did not last. Iowa's defense was on the field for more than 10 minutes in the third quarter, sapping much-needed energy that helped position the Huskies for a fourth-quarter rally. Iowa players insisted they did not tire, but the yards gained by Northern Illinois when the game was on the line hinted otherwise. The inability of Iowa to convert in critical moments and a pair of interceptions which tarnished an otherwise promising start by Rudock left Iowa with another crystal-clear picture. "Inopportune penalties, fake punt, go right down the list, opportunities to change field position, we didn't do those well enough,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "When you get field position change, then take advantage of it, all those things collectively add up to be a successful team or a not successful team.'' The majority of the mistakes Iowa made were correctable and the Hawkeyes will go to work on correcting them on the practice field Sunday. "We just have to keep pushing,'' Ferentz said. Ferentz believes the Hawkeyes will learn from the mistakes. Iowa gave the ball away three times - twice on interceptions thrown by Rudock and the third on a Mark Weisman fumble - and Northern Illinois turned those mistakes into nine points. Ferentz saw today's effort as a solid one for Rudock, comparing it Chuck Hartlieb's debut in the Kickoff Classic. "In his first game he had one go the other way for a touchdown and that didn't stop him from being a really successful player,'' Ferentz said. "I think (Rudock and Hartlieb) are built alike. I don't want to give Jake too much credit yet, but they're both high-caliber guys and he'll bounce back. He's one tough-minded individual. But, it's a team thing, too.'' Whether that will lead to an improved record this season, only time will tell, but this team does seem to have the ability to move the program beyond last year's offensive struggles.

Four-down territory: Northern Illinois

Friday, August 30th, 2013
Four things Iowa can do to put itself in a position for success in Saturday's game against the Huskies: 1. Establish the run. The Hawkeyes' best chance for victory starts, as usual, up front. The return of Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal from season-ending injuries a year ago strengthens a veteran offensive line which finds itself facing a Northern Illinois defense which is replacing five of its front seven. That can and should give the Iowa ground game and edge. Damon Bullock ran for 150 yards against Northern Illinois a year ago in Iowa's 18-17 win and as he shares backfield duties with Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri, the Hawkeyes have the ability to enjoy an edge on the ground. 2. Ease Rudock into competition. Jake Rudock becomes the first Iowa quarterback since Ryan Driscoll in 2004 to take his first collegiate snap as a starter. He was selected to start in part because of the steadiness Iowa coaches saw as he worked in preseason came. Expect Iowa to give the sophomore a chance to ease his way into competition. From handoffs to short passes using the Hawkeyes' depth at tight end, managing an efficient game is more important than any glitz and glamour Rudock can produce against the Huskies. 3. Big-time heat. Beyond the scorching temperatures, Iowa's preseason plan to rotate as many as eight, nine defensive linemen may pay dividends today. That type of rotation has the potential to wear on a veteran Northern Illinois offensive line. Dominic Alvis and Drew Ott will start at the end positions as the Hawkeyes look to come up with more of a pass rush than Iowa did a year ago. 4. No passing zone. Iowa returns three starters in the secondary and its ability to deny the pass and force Jordan Lynch to run with the football will be imporant. Lynch connected on 60.2 percent of his passes last season, dominating the Mid-American Conferences, but in the Huskies' losses to Iowa and Florida State he connected on only 37.1 percent of his attempts. The Hawkeyes' ability to cover a relatively young group of receivers and turn Lynch into a one-dimensional quarterback will be important. Iowa held him to a season-low 173 yards last season. Similar success is needed. Four things Northern Illinois can do to position itself for a win Saturday at Kinnick Stadium: 1. Live up to the hype. Jordan Lynch enjoyed a record-setting debut season at quarterback for the Huskies last fall, becoming the first NCAA FBS player to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,500 in a season. He also had a hand in 50 plays of 25 yards or more, helping position himself as a Heisman candidate this season. Working behind an offensive line which returns all five starters, Lynch finds himself in a good situation to pile up more yards this season. 2. Develop a secondary threat. The Huskies will need to develop someone other than Lynch as an offensive threat to keep opposing defenses honest. Northern Illinois graduated two of its top three receivers from a year ago, leaving junior Tommylee Lewis as the most veteran pass catcher on the team. A foot injury will prevent the team's top returning running back, Akeem Daniels, off the field today. Cameron Stingily, a 6-foot-1, 244-pound junior who carried the ball once last season, is listed as the probable starter at tailback for Saturday's game. Any yards he can pick up will only help the Huskies. 3. Play with a purpose. Coach Rod Carey, beginning his first full season as the Huskies' coach, mentioned it earlier this week. Players in the MAC tend come complete with a chip on their shoulder after being bypassed by BCS-level programs during the recruiting process. While Northern Illinois reached the Orange Bowl a year ago, the Huskies were 1-2 last season against teams from BCS conference including the loss to an Iowa team which finished 4-8. Lynch has talked about needing to find a way to "finish the fight'' and that means defeating Big Ten-level competition when the opportunity is there. NIU has two chances at that this season, playing at Purdue on Sept. 28 following this weekend's trip to Iowa. 4. Win special teams. An off-season emphasis of Iowa, the Huskies will be looking to create an edge on special teams as well. Northern Illinois returns a veteran kicker in Matthew Sims, a senior from Hannibal, Mo., who was successful on 7-of-9 field goal attempts from beyond 40 yards last season with a long of 54. The Huskies have a new punter this season, with junior Tyler Wedel moving into the starting role.

Minimal upgrade

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
With a veteran team returning, Fran McCaffery set out to upgrade the Iowa basketball team's nonconference schedule following a 25-win season. The schedule announced today doesn't qualify as much of an upgrade. Beyond an assigned home game with Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, traditional in-state match-ups at Iowa State and on a neutral court against Drake, the potential to face stiff tests at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas - a definite improvement from the field at the Great Alaskan Shootout where Iowa was initially scheduled to play - there is little to get excited about when surveying the Hawkeyes' other nonconference games. There are quality teams in the Bahamas tourney - starting with Kansas in the opposite bracket - but Iowa will need to earn any opportunities it gets there. Excluding the field for the Bahamas tourney, where first-round foe Xavier at 17-14 was not among postsesaon participants in 2012-13, Notre Dame and Iowa State are the only nonconference opponents the Hawkeyes will face which participated in postseason play a year ago. The Irish finished 25-10 and ISU was 23-12 and without question, those games will help prepare the Hawkeyes for a Big Ten schedule which includes 14 games against opponents who played in postseason tourneys last season. They are countered by a Hawkeye schedule includes five nonconference games against teams which lost more than 20 games last season, including the four announced regular-season opponents the Hawkeyes play before leaving for Nassau. A fifth date remains to be filled during that stretch, penciled in for Nov. 17, 18 or 19, but it will be surrounded by games with UNC-Wilmington (10-20), Nebraska-Omaha (11-20), Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-26) and Penn (9-22). Once back home in December, Iowa will welcome Farleigh Dickinson (7-24) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (16-14) to Carver-Hawkeye but neither will do much to improve Iowa's strength of schedule. McCaffery accurately insists the strength of the Big Ten traditionally provides Iowa with beneficial schedule strength. But as the Hawkeyes discovered last season when they were left to complete a 25-13 season in the NIT in part because of a soft November and December schedule, quality wins against quality opponents early in the season also matter. Iowa will need to make the most of those rare opportunities again if it hopes to position itself for a potential return to NCAA tourney play.

Summer heat

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Until this week, the heat of summer in Iowa was a byproduct of the competition for the starting quarterback's job on the Hawkeye football team. Jake Rudock earned the opportunity with the consistency of his work from the start of spring ball until a decision was made this past week, coach Kirk Ferentz said today. Although none have taken a snap at the college level, Rudock is the most experienced of the group. A sophomore who has gone through three fall camps with the Hawkeyes, that experience led to the opportunity he will receive Saturday when the Hawkeyes open the season against Northern Illinois. Rudock said he prepared throughout the spring and summer as if he would be the player to take the first snap against the Huskies and that approach worked. A product of one of the elite prep programs in the country, St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Rudock threw for 5,082 yards, 73 touchdowns and completed 64 percent of the 467 passes he attempted while leading his team to 31 victories over two-plus seasons as a starter. "I think playing in some big stadiums (in high school) has to help me,'' Rudock said. "I've prepared myself well for this chance.'' The two other returning players who competed for the job that Rudock won have all made progress during the competition which began last spring and ended last week. Ferentz wants both C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol to understand that they left coaches with a difficult decision. Beathard is being prepared to play should the need arise Saturday and he is willing to do whatever he can to help Rudock succeed. "I understand what my role is and I'm going to prepare as if I'm going to play,'' Beathard said. The competition also provided the redshirt freshman with a chance to learn, something he isn't taking for granted. "The biggest thing for me has been to get a better handle on the mental aspect of the game,'' Beathard said. "I feel like I've grown up a bit there, understanding things, and that will help me in the future.'' Beathard doesn't know when that future will come, but he plans to be ready for it. "I will prepare every day like I'm going to play. That's my job and that's how I will handle it,'' Beathard said. "We're all friends, and we want to see each other succeed. I'm going to do what I can to help Jake, and I'm sure he would do the same for me.''

The safe choice

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Time will tell if Iowa coaches made the right decision in selecting Jake Rudock as the Hawkeyes' starting quarterback for next week's season opener against Northern Illinois. Like any preseason personnel decision, an entire body of work dating to the start of spring practice went into the choice announced today by coach Kirk Ferentz via the football program's Twitter account - so much for the notion that it would be proclaimed by a white plume of smoke rising over the indoor practice facility. All three candidates for the job of replacing James Vandenberg hit the field in late March with a fairly even chance of becoming the starter. None had taken a snap for the Hawkeyes at the collegiate level and all have been working with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Greg Davis for just the past season. If Rudock had an edge, it came in the number of reps he received on the practice field each week as Vandenberg's back-up last season. He apparently used that experience to his advantage. In the handful of opportunities the public has had to see what is going on behind Iowa's traditionally-closed practice gates, Rudock has looked the part. From the practice at West Des Moines in mid-April to the final spring practice later that month and the open practice one week ago, Rudock has shown poise and a calmness behind center. Both of the other candidates, redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard and juco transfer Cody Sokol, had their moments as well but lacked the consistency of Rudock in those situations. The strength of the arms of both Beathard and true freshman Nic Shimonek bode well for the future as each grows more comfortable at the controls of the Hawkeye offense. Rudock, for now, is the safe choice to run the offense. This is his third fall in Iowa City and he will be given a chance to script his own story. He's a bright kid, a microbiology and pre-med major, and has the respect of his teammates. It will now be up to Rudock and those around him to do what he can with the opportunity he has been given.

Initial thoughts

Monday, August 19th, 2013
A day wandering the Iowa State Fairgrounds has given me time to digest both more than enough fair food and what I watched on the turf at Kinnick Stadium during the Hawkeyes' open practice on Saturday night. A few thoughts on the latter... Iowa's quarterbacks have made progress since spring. Jake Rudock looks comfortable at the controls of the Hawkeye offense, most likely as a result as the preparation he received a year ago as the back-up to James Vandenberg. It's easy to see why he is getting twice as many reps as any other QB in camp and why he in all likelihood will be on the top of the depth chart for the opener vs Northern Illinois when it is released earlier this week. C.J. Beathard is improving rapidly. The strength of his arm has always been noteworthy, but after looking nervous and unsure of himself during the glimpses he was on display in the spring he looks more at ease now. I also feel like there is a lot to like about Nic Shimonek down the road. The kid throws a great ball, but his time on the field will come after a redshirt year and some seasoning in the Iowa offense. The Hawkeyes have added to their collection of playmakers. Newcomers Damond Powell at wide receiver and LeShun Daniels at running back were impressive in their first public displays at Kinnick. Powell displayed both a knack for catching the ball and knowing what to do with it, something that sophomore Tevuan Smith showed as well. Coach Kirk Ferentz has been impressed with the Hawkeye receivers in general, but this was an area of the team which had room for significant growth. Daniels is a thick, physical back who saw plenty of action in short yardage situations in part because Iowa coaches are well aware Mark Weisman's abilities in those situations. Daniels can and likely will help the Hawkeyes in some fashion this fall as part of a deep group of backs who will be used in a variety of ways. Damon Bullock spent most of Saturday lining up as a receiver, and he said he has fluctuated back and forth between running back and receiver on a regular basis during fall camp. Rudock has been impressed with the play of Powell and Daniels as well. "Damond is fast, fast, fast and LaShun, his biceps are as big as my torso,'' Rudock said. "They're giving us the ability to make some plays.'' Iowa continued to work in a no-huddle attack and used varying tempos. If you are expecting basketball on grass, you will probably be disappointed. Iowa can and will play fast at times, but when clock management is important the Hawkeyes will likely continue to make every second count. Defensively, it does appear that Reese Morgan has enough linemen to go with a seven- or eight-player rotation and that line seems to be developing more pass rushing abilities. "We're getting more push on the pocket and I feel like we're winning a few more of those battles,'' defensive end Dominic Alvis said. Although anything beyond a quick touch of the quarterback was not happening on Saturday, the Iowa defense was credited with three "sacks'' over the course of a 90-minute scrimmage during the 21/2-hour workout. In the secondary, it apears that John Lowdermilk is positioned to beat out Nico Law for the starting spot at strong safety. Ferentz indicated during his post-practice comments that the depth chart remains fluid at this point. Iowa coaches will sit down later this week before penciling in a starting lineup for the Aug. 31 opener against the Huskies. There still could be a handful of changes based on production during practices this week. With classes at Iowa not beginning until next Monday, this will be a normal week of preseason camp for the Hawkeyes before they move into game-week mode next Sunday. Off the field, fans got a taste of the capabilities of the new video board at Kinnick both from a visual and audio standpoint. The ribbon board which stands on top of the entire north end of the facility was not operating on Saturday but does create more of a closed-in feel at the facility. Its height will prevent fans who used to congregate on top of an adjacent parking ramp from enjoying a free peek into the stadium, but Ferentz believes it should also capture and increased noise level on the stadium floor.

A starting point

Saturday, August 17th, 2013
I'll preface my return to the Associated Press panel of voters for its college football poll by stating that I tend to agree with the sentiment that most polls assembled before early October are like throwing darts at a board. You have a general idea of where a team may fit but until that team has actually been on the field and tested by quality competition, it's strictly guess work at this time of year. My preseason ballot was due 10 days ago, so it does not reflect anything which has taken place during camps over the last 10-14 days. The Manziel situation at Texas A&M made for a difficult call and for now, my vote is predicated on him being on the field when the season opens. I'm interested in seeing how staff changes and quarterback races within programs like Wisconsin and Michigan State evolve and I'll get a first-hand view of Northern Illinois two weeks from today when the Huskies open at Iowa. I like Jordan Lynch and the tenacity he brings to the QB position, but I'm curious about the Huskies' defense and how staff turnover there will impact the team's play. Just a few thoughts, and I'll share these with from ballot to ballot here. I consider my ballot to be fluid, and when the next one is filled out following games played on Labor Day weekend, I suspect there will be some changes. Here's a breakdown from this year's starting point: 1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide may have three starters to replace on the offensive line, but the defending national champs have no shortage of offensive firepower. 2. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have plenty of holes to fill on defense, but in Braxton Miller and a veteran offense, Ohio State has the potential to build on what it accomplished in Urban Meyer's first season. 3. Stanford. The game of the year in college football may prove to be the Stanford-Oregon match up and these two teams might as well be 3A and 3B at this point in time. 4. Oregon. Mark Helfrich has stepped into a good situation, with enough talent to win the Pac-12 if it the Ducks can win at Stanford. De'Anthony Thomas provides a legit Heisman contender to build around. 5. Georgia. Five returning starters on the offensive line give the Bulldogs a chance to challenge in the SEC. 6. South Carolina. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is one of the top defensive players anywhere and he provides the heart of a defense positioned to dominate. 7. Clemson. Tajh Boyd threw for 3,896 yards and rushed for 514 more last season. The returning ACC offensive player of the year provides Clemson a chance to be among the nation's elite, if it can deal with Georgia and South Carolina on opposite ends of its schedule. 8. Texas A&M. It will be interesting to see what defensive coordinators do against the Aggies with a year of tape of Johnny Manziel and plenty of time in their hands. And if Manziel isn't on the field, the season could look very different for A&M. 9. Louisville. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leads a Cardinals offense which could be one of the more explosive in the country. 10. Oklahoma State. Balance will be big in the Big 12 this season, but with home games against Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and Kansas State, the Cowboys are positioned for a title run at the start of this season. 11. LSU. This may be the most productive offense Les Miles has had to work with in his six years in Baton Rouge. Cam Cameron is in his first year as the Tigers' offensive coordinator. Filling defensive spots will be key. 12. Florida. Only two opponents scored more than 20 points on the Gators last year. Improvements on the offensive side of the ball will be important as Jeff Driskel settles in as a second-year QB. 13. Florida State. If Jameis Winston is the real deal at quarterback, the Seminoles could be on their way as there is no shortage of talent at other skill positions. 14. Oklahoma. Ready or not, Blake Bell is the guy at quarterback for the Sooners this season. Bob Stoops shuffled his staff during the offseason, hiring new line coaches on both sides of the ball. 15. Michigan. Devin Gardner is positioned to take full control of the Michigan offense this season and his passing ability only adds to an arsenal of weapons that make the Wolverines a threat to return to Pasadena this season if Ohio State stumbles. 16. Boise State. Joe Southwick showed consistent improvement at QB last season. How well six open spots on defense are filled will be the key to it all. 17. Northwestern. Veteran QBs Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian along with electric back Venric Mark will lead a team which has the potential to develop into Pat Fitzgerald's best team at Northwestern. 18. TCU. Defensive improvements will be the key to the Horned Frogs' potential as a factor in the Big 12 this year. 19. Nebraska. Taylor Martinez is a stud and scoring points won't be an issue for the Cornhuskers. Preventing others from scoring remains the issue for Nebraska and the ability of the Blackshirts to improve will be critical to their hopes. 20. Notre Dame. The dismissal of quarterback Everett Golson creates a question or two which must be answered. 21. Texas. David Ash seems positioned to take the Longhorns to the next level. If he is, Mack Brown's future in Austin could be secure. 22. UCLA. Quarterback Brett Huntley is at the controls of an offense which has helped the Bruins win the Pac-12 South the past two years. 23. Kansas State. Two words -- Bill Snyder. Never underestimate the potential of what the Wildcats can do with Snyder on the sideline. 24. Oregon State. Looking for a sleeper in the Pac-12? Look no further than Mike Riley's team. 25. Fresno State. Derek Carr has the keys to a veteran offense that could make life miserable on opponents. An opener at Rutgers and early-season match-up with Boise State are key tests.

Eye on Iowa

Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Five things to keep an eye on Saturday when the Iowa football team hosts its annual Kids at Kinnick open practice. The free event starts at 5 p.m. and includes a post-practice autograph session for kids, but there are a few things for adults to learn as Iowa works out two weeks before its season opener against Northern Illinois. Here are five things to watch: 1. The quarterback competition. It's the marquee battle during fall camp for the Hawkeyes as Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard compete for the starting assignment behind center. None has taken a snap for Iowa in a game. How and when they are used in the practice could shed some light on who is leading that closely-watched race. 2. Is Damond Powell as good as advertised? The junior college transfer is being counted on to help lead the Iowa receiving corps after averaging 30 yards per reception last season at Snow College in Utah. Powell, who wears No. 22, arrived at Iowa the day before fall camp opened so he is still adjusting to the Hawkeye system but keep an eye on his talent and athleticism. 3. How are things shaking out on the defensive line? Dominic Alvis and Louis Trinca-Pasat, coming back after missing the spring while recuperating from surgery, are the only two returning starters on the Hawkeye defensive front. There is plenty of competition going on for playing time elsewhere across the line and for spots in what is expected to be an eight-player rotation. Keep an eye on Carl Davis, who is coming off of a strong spring, and two highly-recruited redshirt freshmen who will see their first playing time this fall, Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie. 4. What kind of flow does the Iowa offense have? The Hawkeyes have spent a lot of time working on two areas since spring -- extending the field with greater use of deep ball in the passing game and developing more comfort with an up-tempo, no-huddle approach. Don't expect too many new wrinkles to be put out for public consumption on Saturday, but there should be ample signs of the general direction that Greg Davis' second Iowa offense is heading. 5. Are primary questions in the secondary being answered? Iowa lost just one starter in the secondary from last season, Micah Hyde, but an open cornerback position and plenty of younger players jockeying for playing time are creating competition in an area which is being coached by Phil Parker again. Jordan Lomax, Sean Draper and Gavin Smith topped the preseason depth chart at the vacant cornerback spot, while returning strong safety Nico Law finds himself competing with John Lowdermilk for the top spot on the depth chart. B.J. Lowery returns at the other corner and Tanner Miller is back at free safety.

Constant companions

Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Mike Gesell has gotten used to his constant companion, but that doesn't mean the Iowa guard has to like it. When the Hawkeyes leave Sunday for a six-game exhibition tour of England and France, Gesell will travel with a hulking cast to protect the broken bone in his non-shooting hand. Gesell hoped to shed the cast, the result of an injury suffered last month in Prime Time League play, during a doctor's visit this week but X-rays revealed that the bone has not healed yet to the point where doctors were comfortable letting Gesell have the cast off now. "Hopefully, when we get back,'' Gesell said Friday. "It's been frustrating, but I try to keep a positive approach. It's two injuries in six months. Hopefully I'm getting them out of the way now.'' Gesell, who expects to be able to fully participate when practices begin in late September, is doing what he can to stay active. In addition to a lot of conditioning work, Gesell said he has been able to work on his form shooting, ball handling and work on a few shots that do not involve the use of his injured hand. He will also try to make the most of the upcoming trip, even if he won't be able to be on the court for games. "It's going to be a great cultural experience for all of us, a chance to see Gabe Olaseni's hometown and see where he's from,'' Gesell said. "We'll be seeing some really cool things and it will be one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips.''

Packing a lunch

Thursday, August 8th, 2013
There was a very workmanlike attitude on the Iowa practice field this afternoon. From linemen to skill players to coaches, the Hawkeyes indicated during the annual media day that they arrived at fall camp ready to work. "That's been a theme around here. That it's time to go back to work and fix things,'' senior long snapper Casey Kreiter said. "Everybody has bought in.'' There certainly is plenty of work to go around following the 4-8 season Iowa endured last fall. From a consistently sluggish offense to a defense and special teams which struggled to deny the big play at the critical moment, there is no shortage of work to be done in the weeks leading up to the start of Kirk Ferentz' 15th season on the Hawkeye sideline. "It's a collective thing. Nobody's pointing fingers. Nobody's assessing blame. We all did not get the job done last year and it's up to all of us to fix it,'' linebacker Anthony Hitchens said. Ferentz indicated he was more interested in solutions than observations at this point, a prudent approach that will serve Iowa well. Like most teams, the Hawkeyes have questions. Quarterback. Wide receiver. Cornerback. Two spots on the defensive line. Spots on the offensive line. There is work to be done that will carry over into the season. "I've seen a lot change during a three-week camp and the next two, three weeks will be an important time for this team,'' Ferentz said. The Hawkeyes realize that. "What we do now will lead to whatever success we have later this season,'' linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "That's been our mindset since last November, make the most of today to put yourself in a better situation tomorrow.'' Ferentz likes the attitude of his football team. From offseason strength and conditioning work to the way it approaches practices, Ferentz likes the way this Iowa team is dealing with the situation it finds itself in. "Nobody is happy with the way things finished last year, nobody, and we're on a mission to fix it,'' Morris said. "What happened is on our resume. We can't change that, but we can do something about the future. That's where we're at as a team.''