Terry Hoeppner is new to the Big Ten, but he's no stranger to Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
When Hoeppner's Hoosiers travel to Iowa City Saturday to face the 4-2 Hawkeyes, it will mark the fourth time in five years that the two have coached against each other. While Hoeppner was the head coach at Miami (Ohio), the Redhawks faced the Hawkeyes three straight seasons, playing in Iowa City in 2001 and 2003 and in Oxford, Ohio, in 2002.
Iowa won all three contests, prevailing 44-19 in 2001 and 24-3 in 2003 and pulling out a 29-24 victory on the road in 2002.
Now the two will meet once again in Iowa City, this time in a very important game for both teams in Big Ten play. Iowa is looking to move to 3-1 in conference action and remain in contention for the Big Ten title, while Indiana is looking to spring an upset and move one step closer to bowl eligibility.
It's been a long time since a bowl berth was a realistic goal in Bloomington, but IU's 4-1 start has IU fans thinking about the postseason. The improved play comes as no surprise to Ferentz after playing a trio of games against Hoeppner-coaches team.
"I think you look at any good football team over the course of time, and they play with effort, enthusiasm and are fundamentally sound," said Ferentz, whose Hawkeyes have won 21 straight at Kinnick Stadium. "(The Hoosiers) look like they are a well coached team, and that was certainly the case when we played against Miami.
"Now, you look at the tape it's the same thing – they are playing extremely well."
After watching tape of the Hoosiers, ranking High on Ferentz's list of concerns is quarterback Blake Powers and wide receiver James Hardy, a pair of first-year starters who have powered an Indiana offense that is averaging nearly 31 points per game.
Powers ranks fourth in the Big Ten in passing yards (232.0/game) and is first in touchdowns (18), while Hardy ranks third in receptions (34), and is first in both yards/game (108.0) and touchdowns (7) among league wideouts.
"We'll have to play great team defense (to stop Powers and Hardy)," said Ferentz. "No one person is going to stop (Powers). It's easier said than done. Anytime you have a guy playing his first year of quarterback and is playing that well, it's extremely impressive. It gets your attention.
"Then, you look at a receiver like Hardy… who is making the plays he's making with a quarterback that is playing extremely well, it's a tough combination."
But Ferentz is quick to point out that Indiana isn't a two-man show. In fact, there were a lot of players already in place to suggest 2005 could be a year the IU program could be markedly improved from where it's been in recent years.
"They are a veteran team, they have a lot of experience and their experience guys are playing well," said Ferentz.
"They are playing together, they are playing well, they are playing with great enthusiasm, great toughness, and it's no accident they are 4-1 right now."
Ferentz, Hoeppner Familiar Foes
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