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KIRK SPEAKS: IOWA VS. PURDUE

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Should we be scared of the Boilermakers?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa heads in to what can only be seen as a trap game against Purdue this week, and let’s hope the Boilers don’t think they’re the cock of the walk now that they have a conference win over Big Ten dandy Illinois.

I actually wasn’t as worried for this Purdue game until I saw Kirk’s opening statement this week, and I feel like he may be overplaying his assessment of Purdue a little bit, but still.

Then looking to Purdue. They come in to the game with a 3-2 record right now, 1-1 in the Big Ten, very similar to our record. And come off a really impressive road win in overtime. Showed a lot of character in that ballgame winning the thing in overtime, and a lot of really close calls during the course of the game. They stayed the course, and then got the job done in that overtime period. So they deserve a lot of credit.

Broad frame, I think they've improved with every year. I felt that coming out of our last game last year. They basically outstatisticed us other than the score in every category: Yardage, possession time, all that. We had a tough game with them last year. We're expecting the same thing again this year. They've got a lot of the same players back.

Something else I mentioned about them last year, one of their wins was against Nebraska. It was a good win for them. But two of their losses, 7-point loss to a 10-win Northwestern team, and a 3-point loss to Michigan State, the team we played in December. So these guys, to me, are on the right path and they're very capable of playing very, very good football. So we've got to get ready. On top of that it's a road challenge.

I don’t think any game will be easy for Iowa the rest of this year, and how the Hawkeyes perform Saturday against a team likely comparable to Iowa State and Miami in terms of talent will be another pretty good litmus test for what we can expect the rest of the year.

This presser was pretty milquetoast as far as these things go, but still a few couple nuggets here and there. Let’s get to the rest.

Q. Winning at Illinois, does that make it easier to get your player's attention this week? That's what I was alluding to, the fine line. Just the way college football is, two teams in the Super Bowl last year. One's doing pretty well. Though they lost the other day, but I think Carolina's won one game. I think since that time, same thing in college football.

So I think anybody that plays or competes in college football needs to understand every week is a new week. We've already experienced that. And favorites, point spreads, all that stuff. I've got no idea what it is for this game, but I just know this: Those are good for people that aren't competing. What our guys need to understand is we need to get ready to play. We haven't really done anything yet. So, you know, if we want to be a good football team, we've got to push forward here.

I think Kirk is taking shots at those of us who like to look at point spreads for purely entertainment purposes every now and again. In any case, I think this is a good message for this team.

Q. Defensive tackles seemed to thrive Saturday? It's good to be strong up the middle. I think we've always believed that in football, like baseball. Certainly talking about your center position, your quarterback position, certainly the defensive tackles and middle linebacker, the safeties. At least the way we're built and we like to play, it's a pretty good parallel and good to be strong up the middle. Those guys are big, physical guys at Minnesota. They've run the ball very well. They'll run the ball good this year. They're a good group of players. But our guys played better than we have in the previous games and that's encouraging.

Kirk must have watched Rob’s excellent breakdown of Iowa’s defensive tackle play from Saturday, because man did those guys put some work in. Hopefully it says more about Iowa’s defensive line than it does Minnesota’s offensive line moving forward.

And here’s where Kirk puts any and all thoughts of Desmond King playing offense to rest. I might be in the minority here, but I agree with him 100 percent.

Q. On Desmond playing offense, is that easier said than done? It's a lot easier said than done. He's working hard on defense, first and foremost. That's a really important position he plays. You think about how many yards he ran for in the Northwestern game, what kind of energy and effort that took, and then certainly basically every week he's done a really good job in the return game.

We could do it, but you're robbing one to -- there's only so many snaps a guy can play. I know Gordie Lockbaum did it back in whatever it was, 1982 or something like that, but that's pretty hard to do.

Q. Did he say he'd do it or be willing to do it? No, he'd try, and probably be pretty good at it quite frankly. Maybe we need to think about it. I don't know. But still there's a matter of time for all those things.

As much as Iowa needs a playmaker on offense, the defense simply cannot afford to have him taking plays off. He has been absolutely stellar this year, and allows this defense to add many more wrinkles to the way it approaches its opponents.

Lastly, Kirk spoke a little about the north end zone project, and how it points to a bright future for the program, and I think you’d have to agree with him here.

Q. When you look at the north end zone project, how important is that to the overall program? During the summer I do think about stuff. You take some time to think about just how different things were. When I got here in '81, we were in the Field House. I think Coach Elliott had a suite built, it was about the size of this room right here. Offices around the outside, little room in the middle for people to sit and stuff.

So you think about that, just everything that's happened and the last 18 years I've been able to witness 17 and a half years. You really start thinking about it, which I did during the summertime, it's pretty neat. To me, this is the next step. I've seen some drawings, and they just look spectacular.

And we've already got an unbelievable stadium that was pretty good before that press box went up. Now it's more spectacular. So it's kind of the next step for me the program continuing to push forward. It's like anything in life, it's competitive. If you're not pushing forward, you're probably not doing the right thing. It's the next step.

There's going to be a lot of work that's going to have to go into that certainly, and I'm anxious to help in any way I can, once we get done with the season. But right now we're focused on the year. If we want to be a first-class program, we need to keep pushing forward, and we certainly hit the jackpot with this building. We did it right and did it right for a long time.

I think that demonstrated responsibility of the program, the long-term health of the program.

Marc Morehouse threw up some renderings of the project this evening, and it sure is something.

An article from Morehouse states the renovations would basically be paid for with money gained from Big Ten Network TV contracts, which will approach roughly $50 million paid out to each school by 2024-25. All that TV money has to go somewhere, right?