Thursday Insight Notebook

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media Thursday for the last time before his team takes the field against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. He gave an injury update, talked about his running backs and chimed in on the new Big Ten/PAC-12 partnership.

SCOTTSDALE. Ariz - Iowa will be without key members of its special teams Friday night when the Hawkeyes take on No. 19 Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz announced here on Thursday that his team will be without back-up tight end Brad Herman (foot), No. 2 MLB Quinton Alston (undisclosed) and reserve tight end Ray Hamilton.

"I think those three guys are the only three that are out of the game at this stage," Ferentz said.

Starting Right Tackle Markus Zusevics, who has started 25 games in a row, missed Wednesday's media day event here because of a stomach bug.

"He's fine," Ferentz said. "He had a little vomiting and sickness going through. I think that shifted to another guy today. So the good news is it is a 24-hour type. He is up and running this morning, eating again, and he will be with us at practice today."

Ferentz didn't believe that the stomach illness was spreading throughout his team.

"Zus had it yesterday and then we had one player develop it last night," he said. "But I hope not. We try to move the roommates out as soon as it happens. And we deal with this during the year too. We had more of it probably in the mid-year. College campuses, it is all over the place. I don't think we're too concerned about it right now."

Herman, Hamilton and Alston have been mainstays on special teams this year. Ferentz said that's where the team will most miss the trio.

"It chips away at your depth a little bit," the coach said. "We're kind of like a pro team. We will be out there with 45 guys and see what happens. We will have more than that dressed. It is only a 60-minute game. We will get through it."

New Partner: Ferentz spoke for the first time on Wednesday on news that broke a day earlier that the Big Ten and the PAC-12 were partnering up for a yearly series beginning in 2017. While the coach said he probably wouldn't have scheduled game against the western conference, he thinks this set-up is a good one.

"I think the intention certainly is to kind of form a merger without merging conferences, if you will, with the tradition of the Rose Bowl it makes perfect sense," Ferentz said. "I think it will ease some of the pressures in terms of scheduling. And I think in our case, instead of playing a team like Syracuse or Pittsburgh, we've gone east a little bit.

"My guess is now that will shift towards the PAC-10 conference and take teams from other conferences that we have been playing out of the mix."

Who's It Going to Be?: Legendary Iowa reporter Bob Brooks used his seniority in attempt to get the answer to one of the most burning questions surrounding the program - who will start at running back:

"For the last time, when are we going to find out who the starting running back is?," Brooks asked.

"The whole world is waiting on that one, I know that (laughter)," Ferentz said. "I say jokingly anybody can play. That's probably what it will be. It will be a committee effort. And we'll have a role for Brad Rogers, we'll have a role for (Jordan) Canzeri, for (Damon) Bullock and Jason White. I think I envision all four of those guys playing. We will go with all four of those guys.

"They will do a good job. They will do a good job. As long as we get the young guys out of the locker room, they may be nervous, we get them out of the locker room and get them started, they will be fine."

Ferentz said that redshirt freshman DeAndre Johnson has been slowed by injury but will be healthy for the game.

Quick-Hitters

-Ferentz said there was nothing new to report in regards to suspended running backs Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall.

-Ferentz teared up a little on Thursday when asked by an out-of-town reporter to reflect on his time with retiring defensive coordinator Norm Parker.


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