Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says a new season brings a new challenge. The Hawkeyes open practice with high expectations after rolling to a 12-0 regular season record in 2015. He says “Every year you try to win every game. I think every coach has that goal certainly, but rarely do you accomplish it, so it was a special year. But there are still things we can improve on, things we have to work on. The other big thing is, like every team in America, we’re a new team. We’re not the same team we were a year ago. We’ve got some new opportunities, certainly for a lot of challenges, and hopefully the next month and a half here we’ll work through some of those.”
Ferentz says last season was also proof of just how slim the margin is for the Hawkeyes. “The key thing” he says, “Is that we won 12 games…outside of one. There wasn’t one of us who was relaxed in the last four minutes, so it’s just an illustration of how close things are. Certainly in our conference they are.” The point being, he says “We’ve got a lot of work to do, just to win one game right now, let alone 12. That’s where our focus has to be, to see if we can get into position to win our first game.”
Ferentz says leadership was a key element in Iowa’s success last season and they need a new group of leaders to emerge. “We had 21 Seniors that did a fantastic job. Only one NFL draft pick in the whole group, so it gives you an idea of the collective power that those guys had. To that point, we’ve got to have other guys ascend now to take that spot. I think we have those people. What I’m most concerned about probably, is who’s going to fill the void underneath, as those guys emerge. That’s where the younger players have to step up. I think we got a glimpse of that this Spring. Certainly the next month here we’ll learn a lot more about our team and if guys are ready to step up and meet those kinds of challenges.”
Ferentz says the coaches got a glimpse of their potential during spring practice and are now looking forward to finding out how good they can be. He said “It’s interesting: you only have 15 days in the Spring. 12 of those are in pads. Now you move into [training] camp and it’s 29 practices…the concentration on football is a little bit more intense. I think we’ll learn more about our team here, and like every coach in America, just curious to see what games we’ve made, who’s ready to really step in there and do a good job, and provide and leadership, those kinds of things.”
Iowa opens at home on September third against Miami of Ohio.