By Courtney Baumann
After spending last weekend not in front of 70,000-plus screaming fans, Iowa football will return to action on Saturday when the team travels to Northwestern.
The bye week gave the Hawkeyes some time off — they didn’t hold practice Oct. 12 through Sunday. A few players went home, while others stayed in Iowa City and relaxed, getting to watch college football games all Saturday for the first time of the season.
However, the time was fleeting, and it is now time for the Hawkeyes to return to work before they face a team that they have had an interesting time with over the past 11 seasons.
Iowa is 5-6 against the Wildcats since 2006, with the most recent loss coming last season in Kinnick on Homecoming Weekend.
Northwestern comes into the game with an experienced starting lineup. Sixteen of the Wildcat’s starting 22 are upperclassmen, many of whom the Hawkeyes have seen before.
Justin Jackson, Northwestern’s senior running back, rushed for 171 yards in last seaon’s game, and starting quarterback Clayton Thorson added 164 passing yards and 3 touchdowns.
“That was a tough game. I don’t think coming off the field anyone was pleased with how we played,” Parker Hesse said. “This is a new team, you can’t really tread on those things too much. If people want to use that as motivation, by all means, I encourage that. But, you can’t dwell on it.”
Homecoming, round two
The trip to Evanston should bring back some good memories, at least for a couple Hawkeyes.
Running back Akrum Wadley had a breakout game in 2015 at Ryan Field, rushing for 204 yards and 4 touchdowns in Iowa’s 40-10 victory over the No. 20 team en route to a perfect regular season.
James Daniels should also have a positive reminder when he returns to Northwestern. It was the junior’s first start as a Hawkeye when he was a true freshman.
Now with 16 more starts under his belt, Daniels is making sure to pass off the wisdom he gained from that game to a true freshman now, Tristan Wirfs.
“I just told him, before he started, I told him, ‘Be ready.’ Because if you’re not ready, and they call your name, it’s over,” Daniels said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. Just make sure you’re ready, make sure you know your assignments and all that stuff. He’s been doing really good at that.”
After being gone for an extended amount of time, running back James Butler is finally back on the practice field.
The graduate transfer left the North Texas game with an elbow injury and has been absent from football activities ever since. On Tuesday, Ferentz said Butler finally returned to practice that morning.
However, he will not be back on the field this weekend at Northwestern. The weeks he missed put him behind, and Ferentz said the goal is to get him back into game shape.
“He’s missed significant time, football time and really couldn’t run full speed with that elbow issue,” Ferentz said. “And then the other trick is just getting used brace, so he’s got a ways to go yet, but it was just good to get him back on the field and back with our football team.”
Other Hawkeyes who have missed time because of injuries are Manny Rugamba and Boone Myers, but Ferentz was a little more ambiguous when asked about the offensive lineman and defensive back.
“They’re both back working, so we’ll see,” Ferentz said. “We’ll see how it goes. They’re making progress.”