IOWA CITY — Summer workouts are in full bloom for Iowa’s football team. And so are the expectations.
Multiple media outlets have Iowa ranked in the top 10 of their preseason polls. Sports Illustrated’s Website has ranked Iowa No. 5 overall entering the college football season. For some teams that may be a problem. For Iowa, according to two-year starting quarterback Rick Stanzi, it’s not.
“Our coaching staff preaches to us if you’re a guy that wants to win and wants to work hard, then what you’ve done in the past isn’t really an issue,” Stanzi said. “You shouldn’t really be thinking that way.
“We’re not worried about the Orange Bowl win. It was a great season, but it’s in the past. It’s not going to help us this year.”
Iowa finished 11-2 and ranked No. 7 overall after beating Georgia Tech 24-14 in the Orange Bowl. Six Hawkeyes were drafted by NFL clubs this spring, yet the team returns a core group of leaders.
Eight starters return on defense, led by All-American defensive end Adrian Clayborn. The team’s quarterback, top two wide receivers and top two running backs from a year ago all come back. Only inexperience along the offensive line is keeping this team’s expectations from boiling over.
The players try to keep a level-headed approach about the hype.
“We might hear if we go home or we might be out in Iowa City,” Iowa senior safety Brett Greenwood said. “We don’t pay attention to it. We don’t listen to it. We don’t feel satisfied because we hear it. We know that it takes a lot of work, a lot of preparation to win those games.
“If we take a second to feel like we’ve arrived or whatever, we’re going to get beat in those games.”
Still, it’s unavoidable for the players to notice the fan interest. Nearly 25,000 fans attended the spring scrimmage and the school received nearly 7,000 more ticket requests than seats available.
“A lot of people have bought tickets in advance so you can definitely sense that there’s a lot of anticipation for this season,” Stanzi said. “We understand that we have a lot of things that we have to work on, and it could be a very good year for us if we’re willing to put in the work and do what needs to be done especially in this summer phase and then in camp. If we do those things now, it will give us our best chance of being successful later in the season.
“As long as you have your focus on what’s ahead and what you can do to get better individually it will eventually help the team. I don’t see how it can be a problem for us.”