Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz took time with media earlier this afternoon at his weekly press conference to discuss his team's accomplishments thus far, an undefeated regular season, Saturday's opponent, the stakes of Saturday's contest, and the historical relevance of the 2015 season on the Iowa Hawkeyes' program.
"Overall, I think we're pretty healthy right now. We had a couple guys nicked up in the game. Fortunately we've got an extra day of recovery, and the guys that were injured in the ballgame are working back right now somewhat on a limited basis, but we're hopeful to have them all at kickoff time. That part is all good."
"It's just kind of who's hot (out of the running backs), and Akrum (Wadley) has fresh legs. He didn't do much either last week. We may need everybody."
"It's kind of been ebb and flow a little bit (with the running backs). Jordan (Canzeri) closed out the game two weeks ago, and LeShun (Daniels) closed it out the week before that, so we're comfortable with both guys. They both have a different style. They both complement each other really well. It's probably safe to say you'll see both of them playing. My guess is we'll need everybody on Saturday."
"I hope (Ben Niemann) is available on Saturday. We're planning on it. He practiced today. He's going through that (concussion protocol) right now, but he's doing great. He could always turn the other way, you never know. Those things are unpredictable, but I think he's good to go."
"Hopefully (Nate Meier) is good to go. He's on a limited basis right now. It's a soft tissue issue."
ON MICHIGAN STATE...
"Michigan State, needless to say, is an excellent football team. They're very strong on offense. They've got a veteran quarterback who's been very, very successful, very balanced, good offensive line, good running backs, excellent receivers. And then on the defensive side, like you'd expect from Michigan State, they're very, very good defensively, and it starts up front. They've got an outstanding group of defensive linemen, got a lot of good players, but that group is extremely impressive."
"Really since Mark Dantonio got to Michigan State in 2007, they've had a first-class program. They've had tremenous success, and I think if you look at this year, particularly the last two ballgames, it says a lot about their football team. They go into Columbus two weeks ago or a couple weeks back without their starting quarterback, not able to play, and the way they won that football game, that was extremely impressive, and then came back last week, the quarterback was back with them, and they just looked like a very well-rounded, dynamic football team."
ON PROGRAMS USING IOWA AS A MODEL...
"Well, unfortunately some have done it better than we have. It's a compliment, but I mean, we all do the same thing in coaching. I know I was the same way when I came here 17 yeras ago. At that time Wisconsin was a team, I thought they were playing at a really high level., Rose Bowl-type football team, and the way they played, and some of the circumstances about their program and ours were similar. It was a team I had a lot of respect for."
"But I go back to when Gary Barnett was at Northwestern, the way they did things was very similar, I thought, to what Wisconsin was doing in the '90s. But yeah, we all make that assessment and try to figure out what it is that's going to fit at your place."
ON AUSTIN BLYTHE...
"I don't know how you can do much better. Again, all those things I just talked about. The guy is a great citizen, excellent student, married on top of it, and we haven't had many married players recently, so that's kind of interesting. But what a football player. He played well four years ago when he started playing. He is playing at such a high level right now, and Michigan State's center is, too. Both those guys are as good as you're going to find. Austin is on our team, so I'm a little biased that way. Everything about him is just stellar. Just like our other seniors, his leadership this year has really amped up. It's been really impressive to watch him grow."