Rose Bowl takeaways: No 'panic' in line, King's dilemma
LOS ANGELES – Tuesday’s Rose Bowl media day at the L.A. Downtown Hotel presented a one-hour opportunity to talk to any Hawkeye player or coach.
Though more content will be rolled out in coming days, here are some of the newsy and interesting bits:
Offensive line coach Brian Ferentz thinks people are reading too much into the first unit of Cole Croston, James Daniels, Austin Blythe, Jordan Walsh and Sean Welsh that was seen by media members in segments of open practices Sunday and Monday. The season’s starting tackles, Boone Myers and Ike Boettger, were with the second team.
“To eliminate the panic out there, we're trying to put our best five on the field” out of seven top healthy guys, Ferentz said, noting that Myers also rotated in at left guard. He said bowl prep has provided more time for experimentation, and expects that to continue in the spring. He expected all seven to play in Friday's 4 p.m. game against Stanford.
“All we’re ever trying to do is play with the pieces, get them exactly right and try to maximize our lineup,” Ferentz said. “When you have seven guys that you can roll around, that’s a luxury we haven’t had for seven or eight weeks. We’re actually having fun with it.”
Once Desmond King’s NFL advisory board information comes back, that should clarify whether the junior cornerback and Jim Thorpe Award winner will stay in school or turn pro. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said if King’s projected as a first-rounder the April draft, “then you have a decision to make. If you're not, in my mind if I was his dad, I'd say don't do it. That's just my feeling personally.
“The nice thing is when you're a good player, you're going to win either way. When he's 25, he's going to be in the NFL playing well. So I've told Desmond and I told Brandon (Scherff in 2013) and I've told a lot of our players this: You're in one rare situation where you may never be in this position in your life where you're going to win no matter what you do. And it's nice sometimes to be in a position where you can do what you want, not what you feel like you have to do.”
Jake Duzey needs surgery again to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee – the same injury he suffered in April and has spent the past eight months trying to recover from. His knee buckled in a 9-on-7 blocking drill, and he said he knew right away it was the same thing.
“It’s pretty bad timing, even worse than the first one,” said Duzey, who had 58 career receptions in his first three seasons at Iowa but none as a senior in limited action. “Just trying to figure it all out right now and see what’s going to happen after this.
“It’s tough. But I’m trying to stay strong for my teammates and help them out any way I can.”
Drew Ott hasn’t heard anything on his application for a medical redshirt to grant him a fifth year of eligibility in 2016. Something else had him frustrated, too – the lack of unlimited prime rib during Sunday’s Lawry’s Beef Bowl in Beverly Hills.
Players were given a 16-ounce slab of meat and an additional 12 ounces upon request. Third portions weren’t allowed in the longtime tradition for Rose Bowl participants.
“Thought it was supposed to be a challenge or something like that,” Ott said. “So I was starving myself.”
Ott did say he was on track to graduate this spring.
Don’t look for Iowa to schedule any more Pacific-12 Conference regular-season games with Ferentz as coach.
“To me, to play a Pac-12 team during the regular season is just stupid,” Ferentz said. “Not that we haven't done stupid things before, but the biggest issue there is just the travel and time adjustments. So for a Midwest team to come out here and play a night game, which we've done a couple times, that's a big challenge. I think it's a competitive advantage for the home team; conversely, when a Pac-12 team comes to our place in the Midwest and plays an 11 o'clock kickoff in the morning Central time, that's a big advantage.”
Stanford lost such a game to open the season – 16-6, at Northwestern. The Hawkeyes under Ferentz played a home-and-home with Arizona State in 2003 and 2004 and with Arizona in 2009 and 2010.
Iowa’s kicking game in 2016 is a mystery, with seniors moving on at placekicker (Marshall Koehn) and punter (Dillon Kidd). Special-teams coach Chris White said Tuesday that walk-on Miguel Recinos and Mick Ellis (who redshirted this season) would battle for the placements job.
“(Ellis) has a consistent ball flight. He just needs to get strong and keep working on his kickoffs,” White said. “That’s the thing we’re going to miss the most, Marshall’s kickoff ability.”
Iowa won’t have a scholarship punter on its spring roster or in its Class of 2016, so walk-on Colten Rastetter has the lead there. White said senior Connor Kornbrath, a former Hawkeye punter who is on scholarship but not in the program, isn’t returning to the team.