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Iowa football: 5 questions about the Hawkeyes

[ 0 ] September 19, 2012 |

5 Questions about Hawkeye football with Register reporter Randy Peterson.

The emergence of Mark Weisman and the powerful way he runs begs this question: Who’s the strongest player on the team?

Peterson: Quarterback James Vandenberg responded to that during Tuesday’s weekly session with reporters. Suffice to say that it’s not him. Here’s what he said, using strength coach Chris Doyle’s occasional weight-lifting videos as an example. “When he brings out the camera, he’s going pick the baddest dude on our team — watch Brandon Scherff hang-clean 400 pounds. The three guys you’re going to film are probably (James) Morris, (Mark) Weisman and probably Brandon Scherff. I’d be a close fourth.” Vandenberg chuckled after that last remark.

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Speaking of Weisman . . . he appeared to lead with his helmet a few times during his 100-yard game against Northern Iowa. Is that a concern in this day of concussion-awareness?

Peterson: Kirk Ferentz touched on that topic Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “That’s kind of the nature of football,” he said. “That’s why they wear headgear. That’s football. It’s never going to change, unless they take pads off, which we may do. It may be 7-on-7 tournaments at some point. It’d still be popular . . . to a lot of people.”

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What do you know about Central Michigan?

Peterson: Saturday’s opponent is coming off a bye week at 1-1 – a 38-27 win against Southeast Missouri State and a 41-7 loss against Michigan State. The Chippewas are the only college football team – regardless of level – without a penalty. Now the important stuff: QB Ryan Radcliff is a veteran, with 7,103 passing yards on 583-of-1,001 accuracy. He has thrown 43 touchdown passes. They’re allowing 221.0 passing yards a game and 180.5 rushing.

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What’s going to happen on Saturday?

Peterson: My guess is that Iowa will try to knock as much rust off as possible before starting the Big Ten Conference season the following Saturday against Minnesota. That means getting as many running backs as the score will allow into the game. It means Vandenberg completing a long touch pass or two. Maybe a blitz or two against quarterback Radcliff, who is more passer than runner. Iowa will try to fine-tune as much as possible — as long as the score permits. And look for linebacker Anthony Hitchens to continue his solid play. He leads the Big Ten in tackles with an average of 12.3, and he’s sixth in the NCAA. He’s quick. He’s strong. He’s one of the big reasons the Hawkeyes have a talented trio of linebackers. Backup quarterback Jake Rudock? He might get some PT, too, again depending on the score.

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Better to face Minnesota with or without quarterback MarQueis Gray?

Peterson: Talk about jumping ahead – history would lead most Iowa fans to preferring the Gophers playing without MarQueis Gray when they come to Iowa City on Sept. 29. The shifty Gray passed for 193 yards and rushed for 62 in a 22-21 win against the Hawkeyes last season. Backup Max Shortell will play Saturday against Syracuse. He’s a thrower, not the versatile threat Gray presents. Reports out of Minneapolis on Tuesday say Gray’s damaged left leg is feeling better daily.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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