Iowa Football

Iowa football Quick Slants: Cy-Hawk importance, David Montgomery prep and more from Kirk Ferentz


Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell (43) tackles Iowa State running back David Montgomery (32) during the second half of a game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept.  9, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell (43) tackles Iowa State running back David Montgomery (32) during the second half of a game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Cy-Hawk Week comes with a twist this year, with Iowa having a win against Northern Illinois under its belt, while Iowa State’s scheduled season opener against South Dakota State was canceled.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday he wasn’t sure either team had an advantage because of that quirk — the Hawkeyes with less film to study, the Cyclones with fewer game reps in 2018.

“I don’t think I have experience in this kind of a deal where one team played and one team didn’t,” Ferentz said. “Probably the good news for their side was it didn’t take long to grade the film on Sunday. They had five plays on each side, I think. They got done with that, and they’re moving into our preparation, so they got a jump on us there. But I’ve never had experience. I’m not smart enough to know if it was good, bad or indifferent. But it’s just one of those things, and it’s just how it shook out, so it’s how it goes going into the game.”

Read more: 5 things to know about Iowa State

Here are a few more quick takeaways from Ferentz’s press conference ahead of Saturday’s 4 p.m. home game against Iowa State.

Injury update

Ferentz said starting running back Ivory Kelly-Martin is “doing OK” after an ankle injury in Saturday’s game.

“We’ve got a couple guys that are a little bit dicy, so we’ll see where they’re at,” Ferentz said.

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Kelly-Martin had a team-high 16 rush attempts against NIU for 62 yards. Mekhi Sergeant rushed 12 times for 40 yards and Toren Young gained a game-high 84 yards on eight carries.

Kyshaun Bryan on leave

Ferentz said sophomore running back Kyshaun Bryan is on leave from the team and will be back after the bye week at the end of September.

“(We’ll) ... kind of circle back, see where he’s at, and see if he’s more prepared to practice,” Ferentz said.

What the rivalry means

Ferentz made sure to reiterate that the Iowa State game is important for everyone in Iowa’s program.

“I know there’s a perception out there at one point we didn’t think this was important. That was highly insulting, really insulting,” Ferentz said. “But you know, you can’t do anything about it. You go through all that stuff like you go through anything else.”

The Hawkeyes have won the last three Cy-Hawk games, including a 44-41 overtime decision in Ames last season. Matt Campbell is searching for his first win in the series, but it’s clear the Cyclones have come a long way since his first Cy-Hawk game as head coach, a 42-3 Iowa win in 2016.

“That game is so irrelevant when you talk about the series, first of all,” Ferentz said. “You go back, whatever, ‘11 on, if you look at that, pretty much outside of that game, it’s been a one-possession ballgame. In ‘15 I know it was a little bit more than one possession, but if you were at that game, that was a one-possession game. That was a tough, hard-fought game. That’s representative.”

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Preparing for Montgomery

Iowa State star David Montgomery burned the Hawkeyes for 112 yards and a touchodown on 20 carries last season and added 53 yards on five receptions.

The first-team all-Big 12 running back is obviously a big focus in Iowa’s preparation this week.

“I told our guys, I don’t know that we’ll see a better back this season,” Ferentz said. “I don’t know who’s out there, but we’re going to see good players. We always do in our conference. But he’s as good a back as you’re going to face anywhere in the country.

“He’s a tough, competitive guy, runs extremely hard, and I thought last year when it really counted, that’s when he was at his best.”

Suspended players return

Offensive tackles Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs are back on the No. 1 line in the depth chart after opening-game suspensions. Defensive tackles Brady Reiff and Cedrick Lattimore are listed as backups after missing the opener.

Ferentz said all four have had good attitudes.

“(They spent) the week on the scout team, so I guess if we benefit in any way, our preparation gets a little better because you get guys that were in the two deep typically on the scout team,” Ferentz said. “And then they do the community service on Friday and Saturday, they miss the game. So there’s got to be a price to pay. It’s got to hurt a little bit, and there’s got to be some consequences, but that’s just part of learning and moving forward. Then how you handle those things and how you respond is, I think, very, very telling.”

Amani Jones

The new linebacking corps was largely impressive against NIU, but starting middle linebacker Amani Jones was pulled in favor of Jack Hockaday, who is now listed as the starter.

Still, Ferentz said Jones will continue to be in the mix.

“The reason we like him so much, he’s high-energy -- he wants to make every play and get to the ball, and you can’t always do that,” Ferentz said. Sometimes you just have to play your position. And I think he was just trying so hard that he hurt himself a little bit on a couple plays, and we just wanted to get him out.”

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“We’re hardly ready to throw him off the boat here. I mean, he’s had a good week of practice. He’ll keep practicing. My guess is he’ll be in the lineup at some point. He’s a really good football player. Just got to calm down a little bit.”

Cut block rule

Ferentz was ready to address a block below the waist penalty that was called on guard Ross Reynolds on Saturday.

“I hate calling the league, but I will call,” Ferentz said. “It’s the dumbest rule in football. I think I’m safe in saying that. There might be a dumber one. I can’t think of it.

“To put it in simplistic terms, there’s a certain area within the center box where you play football, whether you’re an offensive guy or defensive guy, and defensive guys are supposed to know how to use their hands to play cut blocks. They used to teach that back when defense was really important. But now the way they’ve got this rule structured, defensive guys can just turn and run, and it’s ridiculous, and my stance is there’s a certain area where they’ve got to play defense, and if they can’t, they should be penalized by getting blocked.”

Ferentz made it clear he wasn’t blaming the referee who threw his flag.

“We put so much on the officials, these guys are humans, and it’s just unreasonable,” he said. “You have rules that are really tough to enforce, and then dumb things happen on the field. ... But it’s bureaucracy at its best, so I guess I’ll have to live with it, huh? We’re still going to coach it the same way. It’s ridiculous.”

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Here's a good explainer on the rule from SB Nation.

Captains

Iowa’s captains this week are senior defensive end Parker Hesse, junior quarterback Nate Stanley, senior center Keegan Render and junior fullback Brady Ross.

Sellout

Iowa said Saturday’s game is sold out, as is the Sept. 22 game against Wisconsin. Next week’s 6:30 p.m. kick against Northern Iowa is approaching sellout status as well.

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