Notebook: Iowa football players eager about game week


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Monday morning brought about the beginning of the fall semester for students on campus. That includes many of the players on the Iowa football team — although, some admitted to enjoying a day by virtue of smart scheduling.

But while classes meant the end of summer vacation, it served as a form of excitement for those in and around Hawkeye football, if only because Monday meant the beginning of the season’s first game week.

“I’ve been out on campus. I noticed there’s more people here,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “The world changes a lot the last week and a half probably when people start trickling in town.”

Indeed, this week marked the end of what players sometimes call “talking season,” which mostly consists of the spring and summer, when nothing but expectations are thrown around as fans and media members look ahead to the next season.

Many Iowa players expressed their excitement for game week on Tuesday. Most said they still need the full week to prepare for their game with Northern Iowa on Saturday, which is set for an 11 a.m. kickoff at Kinnick Stadium.

“We’re just excited to get back out there,” quarterback Jake Rudock said. “We all want to play football. We didn’t come here for just fall camp or to play spring. Those are very necessary, but we’re here to play teams. That’s when those records come into play, the wins and losses, and that’s the ultimate challenge for us.”

Cooper, McCarron to sit with injuries

Two Iowa football players will miss separate amounts of time because of injuries, Ferentz said on Tuesday.

Darian Cooper, a junior defensive lineman, underwent surgery on his knee on Monday and will miss the entire 2014 season. Cooper posted on his Facebook that the surgery was a success.

Ferentz said Cooper had struggled with knee issues over the past year. Cooper played in the Outback Bowl against LSU in January, but he hadn’t progressed as well as he would on a healthy knee.

“We don’t expect him to play this year,” Ferentz said. “He’s a tremendous young guy, and it’s hard any time anybody loses time for an injury, and Darian joins Adam Cox on that front.”

Riley McCarron, a sophomore wide receiver, will also miss some time because of a shoulder injury. Ferentz said McCarron sustained the injury during an open scrimmage but he shouldn’t miss the whole season.

“It will probably be somewhere around the bye week before we get him back,” Ferentz said. “We’ll take that a week at a time and see where it goes from there.”

Four players awarded scholarships in camp

When Ferentz awards scholarships to his players, he first has to tell them to relax. They’re called into his office for the news, and he said they sometimes “they think they got called to the principal’s office.”

Four players were called to Ferentz’s office during the fall camp for good news. Freshmen Bo Bower and Boone Myers and juniors Adam Cox and Macon Plewa all earned scholarships this year during fall camp.

“It’s a short conversation, but it’s a pretty happy one, usually,” Ferentz said. “That’s one thing we tell guys on the front end in recruiting … no matter how they get here, it doesn’t matter, but if they’re in the program, we’re going to judge them like we do everybody else.”

Bower is competing with junior Travis Perry for the starting spot at outside linebacker. Myers is listed behind Sean Welsh at left guard.

Cox, a fullback, will miss the entire 2014 season because of a knee injury. Plewa is slated to start in his place.

Mabin, Powell on the depth chart

Of all the surprises during Iowa’s first game week of the 2014 season, perhaps the most pleasant came in the form of sophomore cornerback Greg Mabin.

Mabin recently overtook fellow sophomore Maurice Fleming to be listed as the starter at left cornerback.

“… [Last] year, at this time, he was a scout team player who really hadn’t done much to distinguish himself in a real positive way, but to his credit, he’s worked hard,” Ferentz said. “And then this spring, he really started to rise and get noticed through his hard work and his play out there on the field.”

Senior wide receiver Damond Powell was also listed on Iowa’s depth chart behind junior Jacob Hillyer. Powell recently underwent surgery for a hernia, and was expected to miss most of the nonconference portion of the season.

Ferentz said Powell progressed quicker than he initially thought, but he still has some work to do to catch up to the rest of the receivers.

“He’s a lot more confident in knowing what he has to do,” senior receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “Last year, when he came in, he didn’t know anything. They just sent him deep in practice. Now, he has a better grasp of what to do and a better grasp of his role.”

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