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Iowa football team welcomes bye week

BY JACOB SHEYKO | OCTOBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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It’s a rare occurrence when a bye week happens at just the right time.

Coaches always claim it does, because when is an extra week of preparation and rest ever a nuisance?

For several reasons, Iowa’s first bye week of the season actually is the perfect time for a week off. On the heels of two-straight victories and a quarterback situation to flesh out, this week has given the Hawkeyes an off-week to regain their footing.

“I don’t think we’re exactly where we want to be right now, but the kids are working hard, and it’s a good time to have a bye week,” Iowa’s defensive coordinator Phil Parker said, speaking specifically on the defense’s behalf.

While most attention this week, and next week, was, and will be, focused on the quarterbacks, the time off should prove useful for Iowa’s defense as well.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz has raved the past couple of weeks about how the defense has worn teams down late in games. He pointed to the constant rotation of players in some positions as a reason.

With players such as Mike Hardy, Jaleel Johnson, and Faith Ekakitie seeing more time on the defensive line, and Josey Jewell seeing action at linebacker, Iowa has been able to dominate the second halves of game recently.

“I think we’ve got the pieces of our defense and the guys in the right spot right now,” Parker said. “We’re really working good as a team. The communication has been better.”

Parker noted that 24 of the 29 defensive players whlo traveled to Purdue on Sept. 28 saw some action. With the bye week, he said the players will continue to get used to the rotational sets that have proven useful the last couple of weeks.

However, anything the defense does will be overshadowed these next few weeks by Iowa’s newly announced dual-quarterback system.

Assuming the extra week of rest gives Jake Rudock time to heal his hip — offensive coordinator Greg Davis said this week Rudock was about 80 percent — Iowa will play both him and backup C.J. Beathard against Indiana on Oct. 11.

“We feel like we have two good quarterbacks, and we’ll look at it in these next 11 days and then we’ll go from there,” Davis said.

Davis didn’t say specifically how the snaps would be split up, other than it will be more of a feel-for-the-game deal than game plan.

Last season, Iowa went 1-1 following bye weeks. The team lost at Ohio State, 34-24, but came back to beat Michigan at home, 24-21.

For most players, the bye week is a time for rest. For others, it’s a time to escape. Offensive tackle Brandon Scherff quickly noted that Oct. 1 marks the first day of archery deer season.

Still, this week is an opportunity for players to recover from the season’s first five games. And that down time is something they don’t get a lot of during game weeks.

“Just relaxing and getting some rest,” Carl Davis said following Iowa’s 24-10 win over Purdue. “Honestly, just trying to get our bodies back to feeling as close to 100 percent as possible.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis of the Iowa football team.


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