Kirk Ferentz met with the assembled media Tuesday. Here's what we learned. As always, transcript from Hawkeye Nation.
The only definite injury remains Macon Plewa, who won't return until after the second bye week if at all. Ferentz did mention that they "have a handful of guys who are knicked up," He later said that right guard Jordan Walsh, who left the Indiana game early and didn't return, is among them. If Walsh can't play, expect Iowa to stick with moving center Austin Blythe into the guard spot and inserting Tommy Gaul at center.
Derrick Willies is also working through an injury. Ferentz sounded optimistic about him being available, but Iowa hasn't used him that much regardless.
Much Ado About Nothing
We've reached the point in the season where there doesn't seem to be anything to ask Ferentz. The quarterback controversy lasted all of three weeks and was effectively killed off last week; it took eight questions before quarterback was even raised, which might be a record. There were more questions asked about John Lowdermilk than C.J. Beathard. There aren't any significant depth chart issues left. The team is relatively healthy. There is no significant history with Maryland to reference. Someone asked about autographs. This thing was a snoozer.
"We're Always Looking at Places"
Ferentz was asked about the one connection this program has with Maryland: Recruiting. It led to a brief discussion of Iowa's recruiting philosophy.
Q. What led you to start recruiting recently at Maryland? Can that help at all?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I hope it does. I think it's us expanding eastward is probably maybe hopefully it will make it easier for prospects out in that region to be enthused about playing in the Big Ten. We're always looking at places. Does it make sense for us to try here and try there, and that felt like a place where we have some connections out there, and that's good football out there.
There are good players everywhere, not just in the south. But there are good players everywhere, it's just a matter of where you're going to have a chance to have some production. I think realistic production based on your program and your staff.
Iowa has tried to move its recruiting south in recent years, reopening Florida with Chris White just a couple of years after declaring it dead and entering Georgia for the first time in a decade. But the mid-Atlantic, and Maryland in particular, has become a focus in recent years. White, who is probably Iowa's best recruiter at the moment, has used his connections to the area to maintain and expand the presence built by Darrell Wilson.
The question remains, though: Is it working? Iowa has boosted its national rating by hitting Maryland, for sure. But after five years of seriously targeting the mid-Atlantic, the most productive recruit Iowa has landed from there is probably Marcus Coker, who left the program after one year as a starter. Jordan Lomax is starting this year. Nico Law is gone. Darian Cooper has never broken through at defensive tackle and is sitting this season out injured. Anthony Ferguson didn't make it to campus. Jim Poggi never played. Miles Taylor, who is technically out of the District of Columbia, looks like a keeper, but he's an exception at this point.
Also, "We're always looking at places" is one of my favorite Ferentz quotes ever.
That's Not a Good Question
Q. Is it going to feel like a Big Ten game?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, because it counts. They all feel the same to me.
I like to rip Ferentz for abrupt answers as much as anyone, but what did you seriously expect?
Your Random 1980s Big Ten Football Reference of the Day
Q. With the shorter defensive end, what kind of challenges does he present? He's pretty big despite his size?
COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, I've always felt like that's overstated, the height thing. Sometimes it can work. There is a guy that played at Michigan State back in the '80s, I'll give you his name, but I think I'll get it wrong. I think I know what his name is. It doesn't matter. Anyway, he was roughly 6′, 6'1″ defensive end, and we had a pretty tall tackle. Ended up being a tough leverage match‑up because you're used to blocking guys a little taller.
Aw shucks, I don't even remember last week but here's something about a 6'1 defensive end who played at another school 30 years ago.
Backhanded Compliment of the Day
Q. I know you don't care much for looking back and stacking up what you've done. But you're in the Top 10 as far as coaching wins in Big Ten history, and every other coach on that list is legendary. Do you have a thought about that?
Yeah, we're done here.