Kirk Ferentz

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Iowa defensive lineman retires from football, leaving Hawkeyes defensive line depth a bit more shallow

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The Iowa defensive line may be highlighted by the rise of A.J. Epenesa, but the depth on the line is beginning to resemble a kiddie pool at this point. A unit that has already lost a few players to graduation, a few more to transfers and one player early to the NFL Draft now has a retirement to add to the list of offseason losses. Jack Kallenberger has stepped away from football, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz announced on Thursday during a season-wrap-up press conference with Iowa reporters.

Kallenberger, who transferred to Iowa in 2017 after two seasons of junior college football with Iowa Central Community College, is no longer listed on the Iowa football website’s roster page. His departure was a mild surprise given the opportunity to compete for a more vital role on the defensive line this spring. Kallenberger’s brother, Mark Kallenberger, remains on the team after completing his redshirt freshman season with the Hawkeyes.

Nate Stanley tosses 3 TDs as Iowa tops No. 18 Mississippi State in Outback Bowl

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The last couple of trips to the Outback Bowl have not been kind to Iowa, but the first college football game to played in 2019 had a much more enjoyable outcome for the Hawkeyes. Iowa (9-4) used a big second quarter and a strong defensive showing in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 27-22 victory over No. 18 Mississippi State (8-5).

Mississippi State had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter with a first-and-goal from the Iowa one-yard line, but three straight runs by Nick Fitzgerald were stuffed by the Hawkeyes and the Bulldogs settled for a short field goal by Jace Christmann to cut the Iowa lead to 24-22. Fitzgerald got one final chance to deliver a win for Mississippi State with the Bulldogs down 27-22 in the final minutes of the game, but an incomplete pass on fourth down allowed Iowa to run out the remaining seconds of the clock to wrap up the win.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 214 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The running game had a rough afternoon against the Mississippi State defense, however, as the Hawkeyes combined for a loss of 14 yards running the ball, including sacks of Stanley. Mississippi State had a much more productive day on the ground with 190 yards as a team, fueled by 103 yards by Fitzgerald, who also passed for 152 yards on 14-of-32.

Nick Easley caught two of the touchdown passes thrown by Stanley. And although it took until the second half of the game to get him in the box score, T.J. Hockenson had three catches for 43 yards that came in important moments.

The win by Iowa was the first for the Big Ten this bowl season against the SEC after dropping the previous two matchups on the bowl calendar. The Iowa win also put the Big Ten above .500 this bowl season, pending the results of other bowl games being played on Jan. 1. The loss by Mississippi State at least temporarily dropped the SEC to .500 with other games still being played.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is now 8-8 all-time in bowl games and has won two consecutive bowl games after snapping a five-game losing streak in bowl games a year ago in the Pinstripe Bowl. This was the first bowl game for Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead as a head coach, so his search for a bowl victory will continue in the 2019 season.

This, of course, means Outback Steakhouse will be giving away free coconut shrimp to customers as the Big Ten won the Outback Bowl. A win by the SEC would have awarded customers free bloomin’ onion.

Kirk Ferentz on Iowa’s spring progress: We’re not a very good team right now

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If you thought all of the talk from coaches in the spring had an optimistic outlook, think again. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is calling it like he sees it so far this spring, and the picture is not a very pretty one for the Hawkeyes.

We’re not a real good football team right now. Don’t expect to be in April, and the objective is to be ready when the season start,” Ferentz told reporters on Friday. That seems kind of blunt, but that is fair. Every team figures to have some room for improvement in the spring, even for a defending national champion like Clemson or an annual powerhouse like Alabama or Ohio State. The good news is Ferentz did have at least a couple of positive things to say about this team so far this spring.”We see a lot of individual improvement going on right now. We’re doing some good things at time, but…we can’t get lined up sometimes. The formations are different, the language we’re using is different. So the guys are getting used to that still, and we expected that.”

“We see a lot of individual improvement going on right now,” Ferentz said. “We’re doing some good things at time, but…we can’t get lined up sometimes. The formations are different, the language we’re using is different. So the guys are getting used to that still, and we expected that.”

Part of the issue for Iowa comes from learning a new scheme being put into motion by Brian Ferentz, the team’s new offensive coordinator and son of the head coach. Any time a new offensive strategy is put in place, it can take some time to adjust and fine-tune.

”They’re doing some good things. But again, we’re not real consistent,” Kirk Ferentz said. ”I’m not expecting this thing to just clear up in the next two weeks.”

“There’s a lot more motions,” Iowa wide receiver Devonte Young explained. “A lot more deep routes, a lot more run-pass concepts so you don’t know like what’s going to happen.”

Are we about to see Iowa air it out down field more in 2017? That would certainly be a change of pace for the Hawkeyes.

All in the Hawkeye family: Iowa names Brian Ferentz offensive coordinator

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Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz did not have to look very far to find his new offensive coordinator. Not only did he have to look outside the Iowa program, but he didn’t even have to look outside his own family. Brian Ferentz, son of the Hawkeyes head coach, has been named the new offensive coordinator of the Iowa program.

The younger Ferentz had been serving a role on the Iowa coaching staff as offensive line coach and run game coordinator. He was also a three-year letterman at Iowa and has been on the Iowa staff for the past five years. Under his leadership in 2016, Iowa’s offensive line won the Joe Moore Award, which is presented annually to the top offensive line in the country (Alabama won the inaugural award in the 2015 season).

“Brian has been an integral member of our offensive coaching staff for five years, bringing national recognition to our offensive line and new levels of success in our running game,” said Kirk Ferentz.  “Brian’s coaching experience here at Iowa, coupled with his time in the NFL, has prepared him well for his new responsibilities as the offensive coordinator for Iowa football.”

Brian Ferentz replaces Greg Davis, who retired from his position on the Iowa staff last week.

No. 17 Florida defense dominates Iowa in Outback Bowl blowout, 30-3

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Austin Appleby may not have been able to beat Iowa (8-5) while he was at Purdue, but he was able to do that on Monday in the Outback Bowl with the No. 17 Florida Gators (9-4). Appleby had early mistakes with a pair of turnovers on the first two drives of the game, but Appleby ended his day with 222 yards and two touchdowns to help the Gators pull away from the Hawkeyes in Tampa in a 30-3 victory.

The story of the game was Florida’s defense, which came up with three interceptions of Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard and held the Iowa offense to just 55 passing yards. Iowa was limited to just 226 yards of offense and went 4-of-16 on third down. Even a 100-yard day from Akrum Wadley (115 yards) was not enough to keep the Hawkeyes within reach once the game snowballed out of control.

Florida scored the first touchdown of the game on an 85-yard pass play to Mark Thompson with multiple missed tackles along the way. Chauncey Gardner padded a comfortable 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the Gators tacked on two more field goals from there to pile on in the 27-point victory. Considering how Florida was embarrassed last season by a Big Ten team in the bowl season (Michigan), this must have been a little extra sweet to do the same to another Big Ten team.

The loss by the Hawkeyes clinches a losing bowl record this season for the Big Ten. At 3-6 and just one game remaining to play (Penn State in the Rose Bowl), the Big Ten had a rough postseason that included two New Years Six bowl losses by Michigan and Ohio State (in the College Football Playoff). A Penn State win would at least give the Big Ten a split in NY6 bowl games if it can beat USC in the Rose Bowl. The SEC is now 6-5 in the bowl season with two more games to play. Auburn faces Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl later tonight and Alabama will face Clemson in the nationla championship game next week.

Iowa has now been outscored 172-75 in its last five bowl games, which has culminated in a five-game bowl losing streak for Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Florida head coach Jim McElwain picked up his first bowl victory of his career.

Iowa’s 2017 season will get underway on September 2 at home against Wyoming from the Mountain West Conference. Iowa will play key division game son the road against Wisconsin and Nebraska next fall, as well as on the road against Big Ten East opponent Michigan State (who can’t possibly be as bad in 2017 as they were in 2016, right). The Hawkeyes also host Ohio State in early November next fall.

Florida’s 2017 season will start in Arlington, Texas against the Michigan Wolverines on September 2 in the Cowboys Kickoff. Other non-conference games will include home games against UAB (the Blazers are back in 2017!) and rival Florida State. In conference play, the Gators host Tennessee as well as LSU and Texas A&M.

As a reminder, the Florida victory means you get a free bloomin’ onion at your local Outback Steakhouse tomorrow, January 3.