Notebook: Iowa aims for postseason return

BY CODY GOODWIN | JULY 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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CHICAGO — Plenty of questions hover over the Iowa offense for this upcoming 2013 season. The question everybody wants to know — that is, who will be the starting quarterback — still remains unanswered.

Rumors abound on that front, of course. But what is set in stone (barring any sort of injury or illness) is that C.J. Fiedorowicz will be there to catch the ball from whoever throws it to him.

The senior tight end will be a staple in the 2013 Iowa offense, said head coach Kirk Ferentz, primarily because of the experience he’ll bring to the huddle.

“I think C.J. is a guy that, whoever plays is going to rely on,” Ferentz said. “With our youth at receiver, our inexperience at receiver, it just makes more sense to integrate C.J.”

Kevonte Martin-Manley returns to the Hawkeye offense as the most experienced receiver. He’s recorded 82 catches in 25 career games — last year, Martin-Manley caught 52 passes for 571 yards and two scores.

Behind Martin-Manley, though, is a drop-off in experience at receiver. Jordan Cotton is the only other returning receiver with starting experience (one game), and he caught just 12 balls for 172 yards a year ago. Senior Don Shumpert and the sophomore duo of Tevaun Smith and Jacob Hillyer combined for three catches last season.

Tag the inexperience at receiver with the inexperience (in terms of starting) that will start at quarterback, and it becomes more crucial that Fiedorowicz plays a bigger role in the Iowa offense. His 45 catches for 433 yards, with 1 touchdown, were third on the team behind Keenan Davis and Martin-Manley.

“We thought C.J. improved during the spring,” Ferentz said. “It sure is nice to have a guy who’s played a lot of football and who’s made improvements with each year.”

Appendicitis slows Morris, Lomax

Iowa linebacker James Morris was energetic and healthy-looking during his few days in Chicago for the Big Ten media days. Many wouldn’t have guessed, just by his appearance, that a week earlier, he was the “sickest [he] had been in [his] life.”

One appendectomy later, all is well.

Morris, along with sophomore cornerback Jordan Lomax, had his appendix removed on July 16. Lomax’s was a bit earlier.

The initial news startled Morris a bit, but after the surgery, he immediately felt better. The Solon native expects to be fully recovered and ready for the season-opening game against Northern Illinois on Aug. 31.

“After the surgery, it was a piece of cake. I was sore, but I still felt better than I did before,” Morris said. “I really didn’t want it to be taken out. I was hoping it was just a bug. But it ended up being the appendix.”

Ferentz said, “We went 14 years with four appendixes, and then we get two in two weeks. Neither had incisions, so that was a good thing. It’s just kind of random.”

‘I just want to get the trophy’

The 2013 season also renews a rivalry for the Hawkeyes, as they’ll get to play Wisconsin for the first time since the 2010-11 season. The Badgers won that game, 31-30, in Iowa City.

“I’m anxious to go and play them again,” Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “Last time we played Wisconsin was my freshman year, and we lost.”

The matchup, which is slated for Nov. 2 in Kinnick Stadium, is one for a trophy. The Heartland Trophy, to be exact.

Kirksey said he has never seen the Heartland Trophy before. He doesn’t care about what it looks like, either. But he’s anxious to find out.

“I’ve never really paid attention to how the trophy looks,” he said and laughed. “I just want to run over and get the trophy so I can see what it looks like afterwards.”

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