Iowa Football

Iowa football Quick Slants: Reactions to Amani Jones' targeting penalty, Fant family's tweets and more

Iowa linebacker Amani Jones walks off the field after being ejected for a targeting penalty against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., last Saturday.(Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa linebacker Amani Jones walks off the field after being ejected for a targeting penalty against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., last Saturday.(Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — If you’ve talked to Amani Jones, you know he’s not really sweating this too much.

The Iowa Hawkeyes middle linebacker always seems to have a smile on his face, a positive demeanor about him. Just because he can’t play the first half of Saturday’s game at Indiana doesn’t mean that’ll change.

“He’s taking it in stride,” Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse said Tuesday. “He’s not moaning about it right now or pouting ... When he comes in (the second half), he’ll be ready to go.”


Jones was ejected after being the recipient of a targeting penalty in the final minute of last Saturday’s win at Minnesota. He blew up a Minnesota receiver over the middle who appeared to run into him as much as anything.

The penalty, confirmed by the officials after viewing video of the play, comes with the codicil Jones will miss the first half against the Hoosiers.

“I don’t want to say we disagreed with the call, but I thought if I was Amani myself, and I was right there, I don’t know what he could have changed,” said Iowa safety Jake Gervase. “I thought he led with his shoulder. It was just a really hard, violent hit. Football is a violent and aggressive game. But the refs saw it, they made the call, stuck with it. We need to do a good job of staying within the guidelines, staying within the rules, and make sure we’re not leading with our head. Go in and make plays, be aggressive, but at the same time, be smart to make sure that doesn’t get called against us.”

To a man, Jones’ teammates have his back on this one. It’s even more sour medicine for the junior to take since he started the season opener against Northern Illinois, lost his job to Jack Hockaday and was getting it back because Hockaday injured his knee in the Minnesota game.

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“They said it looked different at the sideline than the end-zone angle,” Hesse said. “One looked like it was helmet to helmet, one didn’t. I don’t really know. That’s what you love about Amani. He plays physical. There’s only one way to play football, and that’s as hard as you can. That’s what he does. I understand the rules of the game, it’s a tough situation. You wouldn’t want him to play any other way, wouldn’t want him to back down in any situation and give up a play because of it.”

Ferentz reacts to Fant rant

Tight end Noah Fant’s brother, Chris, riled the Iowa fanbase with a weekend tweet that said Noah isn’t getting enough plays in and touches. Chris Fant is the head football coach at Omaha Northwest High School.

Ferentz said he was aware of the “noise coming from the outside” but played it down, stressing Noah Fant is not a complainer, has a good attitude and works hard.

“I read the postgame notes because there is always some interesting stuff in there,” Ferentz said. “I think he’s climbing the ranks right now, both Big Ten-wise and Iowa history-wise. So I really don’t have much to say about it. We’re trying to do things that we think are best for the team, whether it’s how we sub on defense or on offense.

“The bottom line is we have two really good tight ends (including T.J. Hockenson), and they both play really critical roles on our team.”

Welch back in ... everywhere

Kristian Welch was Iowa’s starting weakside linebacker, then got hurt and lost his starting spot to Djimon Colbert. He played in some nickel packages against Minnesota but will see the field a lot more than that against Indiana, listed as the Hawkeyes’ starting middle linebacker Saturday.

That flip was necessary because of the Jones first-half suspension and Hockaday’s injury.

“I kind of took the approach of the next-man mentality,” Welch said. “Guys get banged up, Amani gets a targeting penalty, whatever it is, you’ve got to kind of put the fire out. Step in and be able to take on the challenge.”

Welch also is listed on the depth chart as Colbert’s backup at Will (weakside).

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“You’ve got to come in with the right mindset that I’ve just going to go to work each day,” Welch said. “Whatever Coach has for me, as far as the game plan, I’m going to try to execute it the best that I can. That’s personally how I have kind of approached each and every day.”

Ace recruiter

When Amani Hooker’s playing days are over, he might want to consider a job as a college coach. The junior strong safety apparently is a big-time recruiting finisher.

When he was asked about emerging sophomore safety Geno Stone and true freshman cornerback Julius Brents, Hooker revealed he was their player chaperone during their respective official visits to Iowa City. The dude is a home-run hitter.

“I guess you could say that,” Hooker said with a smile. “I guess they send me the guys they really want.”

Injury update

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Hockaday and fellow linebacker Nick Niemann have been ruled out Saturday, though he was encouraged with Hockaday’s prognosis after what initially appeared to be a serious knee injury.

Ferentz said cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins are close to full go.

Starting running back Ivory Kelly-Martin and tight end Noah Fant are questionable, likely in concussion protocol. Ferentz said senior linebacker Aaron Mends, who was in line to start before tearing his ACL in spring ball, has a chance to return at some point this season.

Run stuffers

Iowa is allowing 2.7 yards per carry, which ranks sixth in the country. The Hawkeyes join Southern Mississippi as the two FBS teams to allow just two rushing touchdowns this season.

It’ll be a different challenge defensively this week with sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who provides a legitimate dual threat.

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“The quarterback really makes them go,” Ferentz said. “It’s going to be a tough out. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

Ahoy, captains

Ferentz announced this week’s team captains as Hesse, Gervase, quarterback Nate Stanley and fullback Brady Ross.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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