Banged-up Hawkeyes expect to be healthy for Rose Bowl
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) One of the remarkable aspects of Iowa's run this season is that the Hawkeyes kept rolling even when key players kept getting hurt.
Iowa (12-1) should head into the Rose Bowl about as healthy as it's been all season, with a full complement of players – including senior running back Jordan Canzeri – for the Jan. 1 game against Stanford (11-2).
Canzeri suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury in the first half of a 16-13 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game on Dec 5. But he said Tuesday that while he's not quite 100 percent, he's been practicing ''full go'' for the past few days and that he expects to play against the Cardinal.
''My ankle feels great. I'm definitely ready to go,'' Canzeri said. ''I have a lot of work to put in before then, but I'll be ready.''
Coach Kirk Ferentz said that he's been ''encouraged'' by what he's seen out of Canzeri in the past few weeks.
The other members of this beat-up team are on the mend, too, thanks to the extended break.
While quarterback C.J. Beathard never missed a game, he played much of the season with hip and groin injuries that limited his scrambling ability. Backup Tyler Wiegers took the first-team snaps at the start of bowl practice, but Beathard is back working with the first unit as the focus has shifted to game-planning for the Cardinal.
''I'm not 100 percent healthy, and a big part of this is, we've had a few weeks,'' Beathard said. ''Especially that first week there was almost like a rest week for me, trying to get me healthy.''
The rest wasn't just physical for the Hawkeyes, even though they – like the Spartans – took a pounding in the Big Ten title game.
Ferentz wanted his players to get a mental break after a grueling season that included seven games decided by nine points or less. So, the coaching staff took it easy on the Hawkeyes at the outset of bowl preparations so they could arrive in Los Angeles as fresh as possible.
''It's an exercise. It takes something out of you. So I thought it was really important for the guys to have two weeks just to get back away from it,'' Ferentz said. ''You remove yourself from it. Relax, unwind and take care of some of the other things in your life.''
Although Iowa's performance in its loss to the Spartans did wonders for its national reputation, the Hawkeyes know that a win over Stanford would help legitimize its comeback season in the eyes of many others.
Iowa will be an underdog against the Cardinal. But the Hawkeyes hope to pull out one more win for a team that overcame the odds nearly all year long.
''We always had a chip on our shoulder the whole season, and it's no different now,'' wide receiver Tevaun Smith said. ''We'll always be the underdog, and that's what we like. We like proving people wrong.''