CEDAR RAPIDS - There was a noticeable face missing from the Cedar Rapids Rampage bench Saturday night.
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Takeaways from Iowa's media availability Tuesday.
Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell kind of knew what Tuesday’s topic for him was going to be, so the junior didn’t dance downstairs to greet the media and talk about the targeting penalty and subsequent ejection he was hit with during last week’s season opener.
Jewell hit Miami (Ohio) defensive back Matt Merimee during a punt return after the game’s first series. Merimee stumbled while trying to catch Iowa punt returner Desmond King and Jewell happened to land his shoulder on Merimee’s chin.
The flag came out, the targeting was confirmed and Jewell’s season opener lasted seven plays.
“It wasn’t intentional, I wasn’t going for his face, I was just going for a good, clean block,” Jewell said. “Unfortunately, my head got down there and my shoulder got to his face mask. I’ll learn from the experience and move on.”
The Big Ten got a heads up on a high awareness on targeting calls during last Thursday’s Minnesota-Oregon State game. Three Gophers were ejected for targeting.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t send the tape to the Big Ten.
“We’ve got to try to do a better job of educating our guys, what they have to be alert for, but it’s hard, too.” Ferentz said. “You don’t want to defang a guy. That’s a pretty aggressive player. You want to be very careful about that.”
A fully fanged Jewell will be eligible for the entirety of Saturday night’s game against Iowa State (1-0).
Without Jewell, an all-Big Ten performer, Iowa’s rush defense was defanged a bit last week. Miami rushed 41 times for 158 yards. It wasn’t a knock out number, but it helped move chains and got Ferentz’s attention.
“We can’t give up runs and rushing yardage like we did the other day,” Ferentz said. “They came too easy in my opinion for our opponent, and that’s not good. You don’t want to let people run the ball at will and they did that too much against us.”
Sophomore Jack Hockaday replaced Jewell and improved as the game went on. For as poorly as Iowa State rushed the ball against Northern Iowa (25 carries for 51 yards), the Cyclones do have running back Mike Warren, a freshman all-American last season who rushed for 1,339 yards.
Iowa’s rush defense needs to be fully fanged.
Iowa’s injury report was short, but it did include sophomore defensive end Parker Hesse. Hesse jumped on a fumble in the first quarter and returned it 28 yards. He appeared to suffer an injury to his left hamstring and sat out the rest of the game, seeing just nine plays (collecting a QB hurry).
Ferentz said Hesse is “day-to-day” and that he didn’t practice Tuesday.
“He’ll have a chance, and I know the way Parker is wired, if he does have an opportunity, he’ll be out there competing,” Ferentz said.
Wide receiver Jay Scheel has a better chance, Ferentz said. The sophomore sat out last week with an undisclosed injury. Scheel missed some time in camp with a hamstring issue.
“Jay I think has a chance, he’s moving closer,” Ferentz said. “Hopefully, he had a good day today. Hopefully, he’ll be able to make it by game day. Encouraged on that front.”
As an Iowa offensive lineman, Boone Myers has a unique view of his head coach Kirk Ferentz.
First, he plays for the Hawkeyes head coach, who’s now in his 18th season. Myers is a junior guard and a former walk-on. Kirk Ferentz is the one who awarded him his scholarship two years ago.
Then, Myers’ position coach is Brian Ferentz, Kirk’s son and a former Iowa player. Myers spends a ton of time with Steve Ferentz, a senior center and Kirk’s other son and Brian’s brother. And, yes, he’s worked out a few times with James Ferentz, who’s in his second year as center with the Denver Broncos and is Kirk’s second-oldest son and Brian’s middle brother.
See? Myers is up to his eyeballs in Ferentzes. And, no, he’s not complaining. Every Wednesday in July, Brian Ferentz has his linemen over to the house for dinner. Kirk has dropped by a few times.
“It’s really cool getting out there and seeing how the family works, they’re really close and they love football,” Myers said Tuesday.
Myers said, yes, Kirk Ferentz wanders to O-line drills some, but said he allows his position coaches to do their jobs. He does, sometimes, get hands-on with the O-line.
“If he sees some fundamental things, like if Brian is watching the right side and he sees something on the left,” Myers said. “He’ll jump in and correct, but he usually lets coach Brian do that.”
As you can imagine, Iowa players reacted positively to news Tuesday of their head coach getting a new contract through the 2025 season. From Myers’ perspective, you know that he knows how embedded Ferentz and his family are.
For the time being — in week 2 of a season just shoving off the shore — sophomore quarterback Tyler Wiegers and sophomore linebacker Aaron Mends have become depth chart questions for fans. And the immediate answer is there’s no easy answer.
Wiegers, a third-year sophomore, lost the backup job to true freshman Nathan Stanley, who burned his redshirt by playing five plays last week. You could read into this that the course at QB 2017 has been charted and Stanley is the front-runner.
Ferentz kept it in the now last weekend and did again Tuesday.
“Tyler is another guy that is a tremendous young man, great attitude,” Ferentz said. “And this is hardly a closed book. We’re going to let everybody continue to compete at all positions, not just quarterback.”
Mends played seven snaps in the fourth quarter. He started fall camp as the no. 1 weakside linebacker. He lost the job to junior Bo Bower.
“It’s a little like Anthony Hitchens (former Iowa LB who’s now with the Dallas Cowboys),” Ferentz said. “Anthony, his breakout year was ‘13, took three years to get there, but boy, he just took off. You never know when that is going to fall in place for a player, but if a guy works hard and has a good attitude and has the ability, has the requisite ability, he has a good chance.
“I’m really optimistic Aaron is going to do the same thing, just really take off one of these days.”
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