No. 10 Iowa gets back to work against Maryland
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa got the rest it so desperately needed last week.
The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes are now ready for their final push toward the Big Ten West title, starting Saturday against an opponent that could soon be playing for little more than pride.
Iowa (7-0, 3-0) hosts Maryland (2-5, 0-3) after a bye week that allowed it to get healthier than it’s been in a while.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard said he’s close to 100 percent after a groin injury robbed him of much of his elusiveness in a 40-10 win at Northwestern on Oct. 17. Running back LeShun Daniels also appears to have recovered from a high ankle sprain that has derailed his junior season, and top receiver Tevaun Smith’s sprained knee has healed.
”Our team was beat up a little bit coming out of our last ballgame – actually going into our last ballgame,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. ”Anytime you get a chance to recharge a little bit, it can be really healthy and productive.”
Maryland, which is just a few weeks removed from firing Randy Edsall, showed some fight for interim coach Mike Locksley in last week’s 31-30 to Penn State. But the Terrapins have one of the nation’s worst defenses – equally generous on both the run and pass – and turn the ball over as much as anyone in the country.
Here are some of the things to watch as Maryland prepares to make its debut in Kinnick Stadium:
WADLEY’S TIME: Though Daniels is back for the Hawkeyes, they’ll likely give most of their carries to rising sophomore Akrum Wadley. Ball security issues sent Wadley tumbling down the depth chart, but the ankle sprain Jordan Canzeri suffered forced Iowa to turn to Wadley against Northwestern. Wadley responded by rushing for 204 yards and tying a school record with four TDs. ”Traditionally when you face an Iowa team, you have to stop the run first and foremost, which we’ll have to do. Their balance is what gives them advantages and they’re playing really well right now,” Locksley said.
NEW ENERGY: Maryland led Penn State heading into the fourth quarter before turning the ball over on three of its final four possessions. Still, it was a welcome sign for Locksley and the Terps after blowout losses against West Virginia and Michigan. Iowa might be a bit more wary of Maryland since its coaching change after watching Illinois, under interim coach Bill Cubit, give it a scare in a 29-20 win on Oct. 10
LINED UP: Iowa will also get back sophomore tackle Boone Myers, who missed three games with a neck stinger. But the Hawkeyes hardly lost a beat without him, as Cole Croston helped anchor a unit that paved the way for back-to-back 200-yard rushing games from Canzeri and Wadley. Sophomore Ike Boettger (sprained ankle) won’t play against the Terps though.
LIKELY/KINNICK: Playing in Kinnick Stadium should have a bit more meaning for Will Likely, Maryland’s sensational punt returner. Likely broke Kinnick’s 74-year-old Big Ten record with 233 yards on punt returns in a win over Richmond in the opener.
HE SAID IT: ”We gave them 72 hours. I’m not a tyrant, OK? We gave them 72 hours and … they could hold hands with their girlfriends, take a walk and talk about whatever. But right now, if you’re a competitor, you just have to think about what it is that’s going to affect you,” Ferentz on giving his players a brief window to think about Iowa’s surprise ascent into the top 10 during their bye week.
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