Marcus Paschal began shaking his head in acknowledgement while the question was being asked. The Iowa strong safety understood that this week would present a new challenge for he and the rest of the senior leaders.
After dumping Montana, 41-7, in Saturday's season opener at Kinnick, the Hawkeyes hit the road for a game at Syracuse this weekend. New starters and players in key roles are sprinkled through the Iowa line-up.
"Being focused throughout the week, game planning and paying attention to detail, that's what has to happen this week," Paschal said. "I don't really think going on the road is that big of a deal unless you're not focused. If everybody stays focused, I think we can go out there and play a real good game."
Syracuse lost its opener, 20-10, at Wake Forest. The Orangemen, who won just one game last season, managed just 136 yards of offense, including just 45 on 5 of 18 passes. They ranked 115 of 117 Division I-A programs in total offense a year ago.
The Iowa seniors need to steer the heads of some of the younger and inexperienced players away from those numbers. Complacency could cripple the Hawkeyes on their first road trip.
"It all starts from the same point," Iowa Cornerback Adam Shada said. "You start on Monday and get a look at film and from there have a good week of preparation. If you have a good week of practice, Saturday is pay day. We get to have fun on Saturday regardless if it's in Kinnick or it's on the road."
Rude Homecoming: Montana Running Back Greg Coleman returned to Iowa City hoping to show Hawkeye fans what they missed out on when the former West High star left town for his college ball. Instead, the Iowa defense showed him very little daylight.
Coleman managed just 13 yards on 12 carries. He started for the Grizzlies after transferring to the I-AA school from Iowa State in the offseason.
Coleman asked what it was like being back in his home, in a sense. He listed Peoria, Ill., as his hometown in the game notes.
"It feels great to be back home," he said. "I mean, I came here to win a football game, though. (Big sigh) We knew what we were coming into. We just wanted to keep it close early and then pull out the win in the end. We tried to keep it close early and then they did what they do best. They move the ball on the ground. They made some big plays in the air. (Iowa Tight End Scott) Chandler was awesome. He made a lot of great plays for Iowa."
Coleman appeared uncomfortable talking about being back in Iowa City.
Passing the Test: National pundits focused on Iowa replacing departed linebackers Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway as huge holes to fill. Hawkeye coaches and fans felt pretty comfortable with their replacements.
In fact, Greenway and Hodge said time and time again at the end of last season that they were leaving the corps in good hands with Mike Humpal (Leo), Mike Klinkenborg (Mike) and returning starter Ed Miles (Will) taking over.
It showed on Saturday, as Klinkenborg paced the Hawkeyes with 11 tackles and Humpal recorded six stops with an interception and a pass breakup.
"We did a lot of good things, but like always, there are things we need to clean up, too," Humpal said. "It seemed like we ran around pretty well. We made plays. We had some missed tackles, which we definitely have to clean up. There was chemistry, but it's going to be a building process all year to be clicking with everyone, the secondary and the linemen."
Humpal takes over the Leo position, which requires a lot of pass coverage. He often will be lining up with tight ends and slot receivers, as he did against Montana.
"Playing the Will you walk out, too; maybe not as much," Humpal said. "It's just depending on the formation. It's something I've been doing since I got here whether I was at Will or Leo. I'm comfortable doing it."
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz sang the praises of Humpal and the rest of the Iowa linebackers this offseason.
"I was really happy," Ferentz said of Iowa's linebacker play on Saturday. "We missed a couple tackles, a couple out in the open that were visible. I'm sure we missed a couple more, too, that maybe got hidden.
"Overall our communication was good. Mike Klinkenborg is the guy that kind of kicks that off a little bit. It seemed like we played pretty solid out there, we made some adjustments. Abdul was down on the sidelines. I had him call Greenway and tell Greenway he could never have made that play Humpal made. Only in his dreams. I'm sure Chad will take exception to that one."
Extra Points: Iowa and Syracuse met in a home-and-home series during the 1975 and 1976 seasons. The Orangemen won, 10-7, in New York. The Hawkeyes returned a 41-3 decision a year later…Iowa linebacker Ed Miles recorded just one tackle on Saturday, his first start at the Will…After hitting the 100-yard rushing mark for seven games in a row last season, Iowa RB now has been held under the century mark in his last two games – Florida and Montana…Iowa ranked second nationally in red zone proficiency last year and scored on all six of its opportunities on Saturday…Iowa ranked 36th last season in third down proficiency on offense at 41.3 percent. Against the Grizzlies, it converted 5 of 13 for 38 percent…On a positive note, the Hawkeyes held Montana to 6 of 15 on third downs (40 percent). Last season, they ranked 109 out of 117 schools at 45.3 percent.