ORLANDO, FLORIDA: Iowa is undefeated since junior guard Brian Ferentz has come back to the starting lineup. Is he the Hawkeyes' good luck charm?
"I think it's about luck and good timing. I really think it has nothing to do with me,'' the 6-foot-2, 280-pound junior said. "You ask guys who watch the tape, I'm a very average player and I do very average things. I just stepped in the lineup at the right time.''
Ferentz missed Iowa's first four games of the 2004 season as he was rehabbing from a serious leg infection that resulted from knee surgery he had done in February.
Previous to his start at right guard against Michigan State, Ferentz's time at Iowa had been spent at the center position, where he started the 2003 season and played before getting injured prior to Iowa's game at Ohio State.
Brian's father, head coach Kirk Ferentz, felt that having a familiar face on the line at that time of year helped things to some degree.
"The experience factor has helped out a great deal, we were pretty green,'' Kirk Ferentz said. "I think he just kept the guys relaxed, and just enjoy the game a little bit instead of worrying about everything all the time.''
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Pete McMahon has been battling turf toe since the Wisconsin game, and he did practice on Sunday. However, he did not prove to Ferentz that he is ready to start and face all American defensive end Marcus Spears.
``Pete's probably the only variable,'' Ferentz said. ``I haven't seen enough from him yet to say he's ready to play. He's only going against Marcus Spears, don't worry about it.''
Several different offensive linemen started for the first time during the 2004 season. Among them are: Mike Elgin, Todd Plagman, Ben Gates, Ben Cronin and Lee Gray.
In addition to Ferentz's February surgery, guard David Walker ruptured his Achilles tendon in February and that required surgery. Walker played less than 20 snaps in the Arizona State game before seriously injuring a triceps muscle and he did not return, nor is he available for the Capital One Bowl.
Prior to the regular season finale against Wisconsin, 10 Hawkeyes had suffered injuries in 2004 that brought their season to an end:
TE Mike Follett (back), WR Calvin Davis (knee), DB Jonathan Zanders (collar bone), RB Champ Davis (knee), RB Jermelle Lewis (knee), Marcus Schnoor (knee), LB Mike Humpal (knee), OL David Walker (triceps), RB Albert Young (knee), DL Ettore Ewen (knee).
Among those ten are three of the top four tailbacks listed on Iowa's August depth chart, in addition to running back Champ Davis. Both Davis and Albert Young have suffered two serious season-ending injuries during their two years on campus.
The fourth running back on Iowa's August depth chart, Marques Simmons, was injured in Iowa's conference home opener against Michigan State and returned to play in the regular season finale against Wisconsin. Walk on Sam Brownlee carried the ball 90 times for 214 yards and is Iowa's leading rusher on the season. It should be noted that Brownlee did not fumble the football during his six games as Iowa's starter.
BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
Iowa's Sunday practice in Orlando saw temps in the mid 40's with an overcast sky.
``This is spring ball weather, all the way,'' Kirk Ferentz said. ``It's going to get nicer, though, and probably quicker than it does in the spring.''
Iowa's players and coaches were interviewed outdoors on Sunday, and the players were definitely cold, reminding many of the conditions during Iowa's Football Media day last August, where temperatures were unseasonably cold and many players were uncomfortable during the day.
Temperatures dipped down to the 10-degree mark in Iowa City late Sunday night and into Monday morning and highs are expected to be in the 30's and 40's in Iowa City this week.
In Orlando, temperatures are expected to rebound into the 60's on Monday and Tuesday, and then into the 70's for the rest of the week, with game time temp's in the mid-70's for Saturday's game.
There is no more than a 20 percent chance for precipitation in Orlando for any day this week, as well as on Saturday.
This is Iowa's first bowl game where a player's grades from the fall semester affect
their eligibility for the bowl game.
Ferentz said Sunday that he still doesn't know if all of Iowa's players will be eligible for Saturday's game. He said he has no reason to think there will be problems, but could not say for certain that everything will be perfect on that front.
``You never know,'' Ferentz said. ``I'm not worrying about it right now.''
No player is being held out of practice, Ferentz said.
Running back Marques Simmons didn't dress for
practice Sunday. No explanation was given.
Temps in Orlando never got out of the 40's on Sunday, making for some chilly player interviews. But the co-Big Ten Champions are not in Florida to work on their tans; they are focused on beating LSU in the Capitol One Bowl. In this notes package from Orlando, Brian Ferentz is asked about his being Iowa's good luck charm, comments from his father Kirk Ferentz on that topic, as well as an injury report, who did not dress for Sunday's practice and more...