It’s a trap: Short week, night game, undefeated road opponent present ‘big challenge’ for Iowa
Every temptation to look ahead is there for the Iowa football team, but for now they are focused on what’s in front of them: Maryland.
It has all the makings of a trap game.
There’s plenty of hype.
“Going into their house … they’re having a blackout. A sellout game, so it’s gonna be fun and we’re gonna be ready for it,” Iowa running back Tyler Goodson said Tuesday.
A short week to accommodate a Friday night under the lights has the Hawkeyes coaches pacing their players.
“It’s not quite as bad as playing on a Sunday in the NFL and turning around and playing Thursday. [But] there are a lot of parallels,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You want to get as much work as you can get done, but you don’t want to use up the same amount of energy on a game week because there’s not that recovery time from Wednesday on that we typically enjoy.”
An unranked 4-0 Maryland team has a lot to gain from beating a 4-0 5th-ranked Iowa squad.
“Teams want to get at us just because we are so highly ranked,” Goodson said. “We’re going to go into every week expecting the best from each and every team. That’s just the price that comes with being a highly ranked team.”
Friday’s matchup being a B1G road game in a still-unfamiliar place doesn’t help.
“It’s still different,” said Ferentz, who is in his 23rd year of coaching the Hawkeyes but has played at Maryland only once — in 2014, the Terps’ first year in the conference. “It definitely feels — they’re not new to the Big Ten per se, but they’re new to us because we’ve only been there once. … We’re playing a good Big Ten football team no matter where it is, but certainly with the other conditions prescribed, it makes it a big challenge for us now.”
So does a dynamic quarterback who’s starting to slide into Heisman Trophy mentions.
“The transformation they’ve gone through is really, really impressive,” Ferentz said, describing the Terrapins and Taulia Tagovailoa. “It’s a huge challenge. This guy, he’ll get outside the pocket. So if we let him outside, it’s a little dangerous. He’ll do that with ease. It’s amazing how easy he gets out there. But like a good quarterback, he’s looking down the field when he gets out there. He will run it, but he’s trying to make a play, and that’s really scary.”
Iowa’s schedule has had its share of scares — expected and otherwise — with more on the way later in October. The Hawkeyes can’t afford to look past a Maryland team just outside the Top 25 just because a potential Top 5 showdown awaits next week at Kinnick Stadium.
Leave it to Iowa punter Tory Taylor to corner that talk in a coffin.
“I know you guys are thinking like, ‘Oh, Penn State blah, blah’ or ‘Big Ten Championship,’ but really it’s literally just one game at a time, it’s one day at a time, one practice at a time, one rep at a time. That’s all we can really do, is just focus on the present.”