MARION - On the heels of a breakout season, two words greeted the Marion football team as it began preparation for 2017.
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IOWA CITY — Lucas LeGrand found out Wednesday that he would get the start at center for the Hawkeyes against Iowa State.
He took a phone call from offensive line coach Brian Ferentz. LeGrand, a sophomore center from Dubuque, took the call while he was at his grandmother’s funeral back in his hometown.
“Coach Brian called and said I was going to start,” LeGrand said after the Hawkeyes’ 42-3 victory over the Cyclones on Saturday night. “So, got back here, went over some film with coach and got ready for the game.”
Life happens and you have to be ready.
Sophomore James Daniels suffered a knee injury in practice on Wednesday. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Daniels wanted to play Saturday night, but “that was out of the question.”
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz compared Daniels’ status to defensive end Parker Hesse, who missed Saturday night’s game after suffering a hamstring injury in the opener.
“It’s not the same as Parker Hesse, but maybe kind of like that,” Ferentz said. “Parker had a chance this week but didn’t respond during the week, so probably realistically we’re probably a week out yet, but we’ll take it day by day.”
It was LeGrand’s first start. It was a night game, it was the Cy-Hawk game in front of a sellout crowd at Kinnick Stadium. LeGrand said it took one play to snap out of it.
“After the first play, I was stargazing a little bit,” LeGrand said. “It was fun. After that, I got my feet in the water and we were ready.”
LeGrand did start the spring game and played across from senior defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson. So, it wasn’t like he hadn’t been chewed on when it at least kind of counted.
“In practice, he does an outstanding job,” Johnson said. “He’s done an amazing job. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz preaches next man in and Lucas LeGrand did an outstanding job tonight for our offense.”
Kirk Ferentz said the big worry was shotgun snaps, especially in a heated environment, which also included Iowa State nose guard Demond Tucker, one of the Cyclones’ best defensive players. Those went flawlessly. LeGrand knew he would see a bunch of blitzes. He also seemed to handle those well.
“He didn’t show any signs of being outwardly nervous, and maybe he wasn’t smart enough to know to be nervous,” Ferentz said. “I don’t know, but that was encouraging, and, again, I know his teammates really supported him well, too.”
OK, there was one pretty noticeable mistake.
On second-and-goal from ISU’s 5, Iowa’s entire offense was called for false start. LeGrand missed the snap count. Referee Mike Defee gave LeGrand the business, making the call like so, “False start on everybody but the center.”
It was OK. After the week he had, LeGrand was able to laugh off that one.
“I was excited to hear what he was going to say ... I’m just kidding,” LeGrand said. “I didn’t get the check. There was too much going on in my head and I just didn’t snap it. I got some grief on the sideline. It was all right.”
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