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Ferentz Notebook: Iowa prepares for running-back gauntlet

BY CODY GOODWIN | OCTOBER 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz was adamant about fixing his team’s rush defense during its bye week. In each of their last two games, the Hawkeyes gave up 200-plus rushing yards after allowing an average of fewer than 100 per game through the season’s first five games.

It’s more important now, during Iowa’s final bye week of the 2014 season, that the run defense gets back to the way it was playing before both Indiana and Maryland ran wild for 316 and 212 yards, respectively.

Of the Hawkeyes’ next five games — all in the month of November — they are set to play Minnesota on Nov. 8, Wisconsin on Nov. 22, and Nebraska on Nov. 28. All three teams boast running backs currently ranked among the top four nationally.

Minnesota’s David Cobb, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah are each among the country’s leaders in rushing yards per game.

Gordon paces the group at 174.3 yards per game, good for first nationally. Abdullah and Cobb are third and fourth with clips of 146.3 and 144.7 yards per game.

“We’ve played against all three of the guys that you’ve mentioned, and all three of them are excellent,” Ferentz said during Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference. “Very different, but excellent in their own right. All three teams do a good job of featuring those guys as well.”

Indiana’s Tevin Coleman is second at 170.3 rushing yards per game. Coleman ran for 219 rushing yards on just 15 carries in a 45-29 loss to Iowa on Oct. 11.

As the stats would suggest, most teams this season have struggled to adequately prepare for each running back. The four aforementioned running backs have combined for 43 rushing touchdowns this season.

Ferentz said it’ll be important for the run defense to fix its issues before facing any of those running backs or else wins will be hard to come by.

“Regardless of who you’re preparing for, of the three that you mentioned, you’ve got your work cut out for you,” he said. “It keeps the pressure on you each and every play.”

Ferentz reveals bye-week schedule

The Iowa football team wasn’t made available to the media during its second bye week of the season, but Ferentz did shed some light on the team’s schedule this week.

“We’ll be on the field Wednesday and Thursday with our guys, give them a couple of days off, and then be back on it Sunday,” Ferentz said.

The 16-year head coach added that the film of his team’s game with Maryland “confirmed what we suspected on Saturday.” He said the team will need to improve if they “expect to win in our next five games.”

“That’s the challenge ahead,” Ferentz said. “We have plenty of time to get ready, and it’ll be key in how we use the time available.

“… Basically, we’re going to try to regroup here real quick. We have five very important games coming up, and we’ll see what we can do to get ready for those five games.”

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


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