Iowa notebook: Hawkeyes feel bowl-game urgency


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There are three games left in Iowa’s regular season.

And the Hawkeyes know all too well that the regular season might be all they get this year.

Iowa has to win two of those final three contests in order to be eligible for a bowl game. It’s a daunting task, with both Michigan and Nebraska remaining on the schedule. Hawkeye players said the goal is to reach postseason play, but they clung tightly to a “one game at a time” mantra on Tuesday.

“There’d be nothing better than to win three more games and get a bowl opportunity,” quarterback James Vandenberg said. “That’s the main goal. But right now, it’s not even one game at a time, it’s one day at a time from here on out. There are only three weeks left.”

Defensive tackle Steve Bigach said a bowl was “another opportunity to play a football game.”

But Iowa needs to improve quickly in order to get that opportunity. The Hawkeyes are 11th in the Big Ten in offense and eighth in defense.

Bigach said there were no easy fixes.

“I wish I could tell you,” he said. “I wish there was some magical answer for you, or for us, and there isn’t. The answer is fundamentals, practice, and then just doing it. And we haven’t done that. It’s a frustrating thing.”

Ferentz talks 4th-down decision

Iowa faced fourth-and-inches with five minutes remaining in the game on Nov. 3 against Indiana, trailing by 3 points. The Hawkeyes initially rushed up to the line to snap the ball to go for it.

But an official review of the spot cost the team the element of surprise, and the Hawkeyes decided to punt. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday that the team was set to attempt a quarterback sneak with Vandenberg, but Ferentz made the decision not to after the review.

“That was our plan until the clock got stopped,” Ferentz said. “They called for a review … There wasn’t a lot of time for discussion. At that point, I had made up my mind. That’s my call.”

Damon Bullock called the sequence “deflating” after the game. Guard Matt Tobin said Ferentz made the right call but agreed it was disappointing.

“That’s a tough situation, especially for the O-line,” Tobin said on Tuesday. “We were in our stances, all ready to go. We were talking in the meeting room [Sunday] about how geeked up we were. But they called it off. It’s a tough situation.”

Hawkeyes prepare for special uniforms

Iowa will wear special “Pro Combat” uniforms on Nov. 10 against Purdue, designed by the Athletics Department to honor the armed services.

The uniforms feature solid gray helmets, black shirts with yellow lettering, and gray pants. And instead of a player’s name on the back of the jerseys, each Hawkeye chose a branch of the military — Army, Navy, Marines Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force — to wear in its place.

Receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said they will make Kinnick Stadium “electric.”

“It’s a good idea. Last year, we had the flag on the side of the helmet, and a lot of armed-service people liked that,” Tobin said. “I think this year, they’re stepping it up a notch. We’ll see what it looks like.”

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