Ferentz anxious for Hawkeyes' return
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Ferentz anxious for Hawkeyes' return

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz talks with then-Rutgers coach Chris Ash before the Hawkeyes' 2019 Big Ten opener at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa football players can return to campus for voluntary strength and conditioning work beginning June 8.

With no spring football practice and limited online contact with his team in recent months, Kirk Ferentz is anxious.

The Iowa football coach is anxious to see what type of physical condition the Hawkeyes will be in as they return to campus in upcoming weeks.

He’s anxious to see who will become the “good stories’’ that have been a trademark of the Hawkeyes’ development during his 21-year tenure.

And, he’s also anxious to see how quickly it can all come together.

“Not only did we miss 15 days of practice, but we missed 15 days of meetings pre- and post-practice, those interactions with players,’’ Ferentz said Thursday evening.

Fielding questions from fans during an online Hawkeyes Event Live — this year’s virtual alternative to the longtime statewide spring tour for athletic department coaches — Ferentz said he welcomes any sort of return to a regular routine as Iowa works toward the start of the 2020 season.

“Just to see the guys out on the field, find out where we are as a football team, I think we’re all looking forward to that,’’ Ferentz said.

While coaches cannot be involved, the return of players to campus for voluntary strength and conditioning work beginning June 8 is a step in that direction.

Ferentz believes self-discipline and awareness will be important traits for the Hawkeyes in upcoming weeks before on-field work resumes.

Iowa opted to give its players some space when the university shifted to online courses for the second half of the spring semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preferring to allow players to transition to that style of academic activity.

With just under two dozen players remaining in Iowa City after on-campus classes were cancelled, 12 team leaders were assigned to host weekly online chats with a group of players they had been assigned, encouraging teammates to maintain conditioning and meet academic obligations.

Ferentz was pleased with the results, which included a team grade-point average over 3.00 for the spring semester.

And once final exams ended two weeks ago, a different type of education began.

For the past two weeks, the Hawkeyes have been attending two-hour online football classes four days each week.

“It’s been eight days of football school,’’ Ferentz said. “We’ll probably do a couple more days in June. We’re trying to keep the guys engaged, active that way, talking football, hopefully learning some things. Mostly, we want to keep them engaged with each other.’’

The objective is to position Iowa for a quick return to preparation whenever on-field activities are allowed.

“Usually, we come out of spring ball having a few ideas about what our team is at. We didn’t have that chance this year to see who might be emerging,’’ Ferentz said.

“We feel like we have a good plan to get things going when we do get back out there, but we’re going to need to bring it all together quickly when that time does come.’’

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