Lomax returns home as Hawkeyes play at Maryland


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When Jordan Lomax thinks of home, he’s reminded of the good seafood that Maryland’s known for.

He thinks of his friends and family and how it’s sometimes hard for them to see him play live.

Lomax, Iowa’s starting free safety, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland — around 35 minutes from Byrd Stadium, where Iowa will play the Terrapins in football for the first time ever on Saturday — making this weekend a sort of homecoming for him.

As such, he spent Monday and Tuesday of this week finding tickets for his friends and family. While his parents make it to a couple of games each season, most of his other family members don’t get to see him play in person. Lomax said he corralled about 70 tickets.

“I try to take care of any family situations at the beginning of the week so now my focus in strictly on preparing for Maryland,” he said. “When the time comes for the game, the family won’t be a distraction. It’s just going to be executing my assignments when I’m out there on the field.”

Including Lomax, there are seven current Hawkeyes who hail from all over Maryland. Starting middle linebacker Quinton Alston will also be close to home, because he’s from Sicklerville, New Jersey, which is just two-and-a-half hours from College Park.

Even more, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz will return to familiar grounds — he served as the offensive line coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens for three years (1996-98) before moving to Iowa City.

Lomax said he knows “a handful of guys” on Maryland’s roster (though just one is listed from DeMatha Catholic, Lomax’s high school). He said Saturday’s game will be special because he’ll get to compete against some of his friends.

“Getting the W, most of all,” Lomax said when asked what he was most looking forward to. “That’s the most important thing. Getting the win and then playing good sound team football.”

Iowa will need to play well in all three phases of its game against the Terrapins. Ferentz stressed the importance of special teams on Tuesday when he met with the media, while Lomax and the rest of the secondary will be tasked with shutting down Stefon Diggs, Maryland’s top receiver.

Diggs has 450 yards receiving so far this year, and he averages 6 receptions a game — the latter is good for second in the Big Ten. He has 3 touchdown catches. He’s also a threat on kick returns — his 24.4 yards-per-return average ties for the best in the conference.

“His route running, his quickness off the line — things like that,” cornerback Desmond King said when asked what makes Diggs so good. “He knows how to go and get the ball.

“For me to have the ability to shut down Stefon, I have to critique my technique, and make sure everything’s on top, and just be ready to play.”

Aside from Diggs, Iowa’s defense must also prepare for quarterback C.J. Brown, who leads the Maryland offense in both passing (1,067) and rushing yards (263).

“He’s a really good athlete, and he knows how to play football,” Ferentz said. “So he’s got basically everything you’d want. He’s a big recruit, and we knew about him.”

There’s potential that Iowa and Maryland could clash in a shootout, as the Terrapin’s defense ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten — worse, statistically, than Indiana’s in some categories — the same Indiana defense that the Hawkeyes hung 45 points on.

But the numbers don’t always tell the whole story, Ferentz said.

“Just about everybody back from last year offensively and defensively,” he said. “They’re a very good team, very veteran team, well coached. … This will be as tough a challenge as we’ll have.”

The players know this as well — especially Lomax, who would hate to lose in front of his family and friends in what might be one of the only times they can all watch him play live.

“Right. Gotta get the win,” he said. “You always want to go out there and get the win, but it’s also a little special to get a win against your friends.”

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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