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Today is Friday, Sept. 23, and this is your Iowa Wake-Up Call.
The most dangerous man in scarlet
It takes a returner to know a returner. Iowa cornerback Desmond King has watched Rutgers wide receiver Janarion Grant handle kickoffs and punts. He’s come away impressed.
“He is one of their talented players,” King said. “I believe for sure. He is one of the guys that changes the momentum for them.”
It’s easy to fall for the shifty, 5-foot-10, 180-pound Grant. Just watch these highlights:
Grant is off to as good a start to 2016 as any Big Ten returner. He’s already taken a kickoff and a punt for a score. He’s top 13 nationally in kickoff return (32.5 yards) and punt return (16.0). He’s electric.
One of the most underrated matchups will be Grant vs. the Iowa punt team, which is tied for fourth nationally with 0 return yards. Yes, it’s only one return, but that’s also the point. Teams aren’t getting a chance to return punts against Iowa. Through three games, 76.9 percent of Iowa’s punts were fair caught.
Grant is more than just a proverbial one-trick pony. Rutgers uses him every way possible. He leads the team with three rushing touchdowns. He leads the team with 112 receiving yards. He’s even thrown a touchdown. So slowing him, obviously, will be one of Iowa’s top priorities on Saturday.
“That’s going to take a team effort, and I’ll say the same thing about our coverage on kickoffs and punts,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s going to take a team effort to contain him because he’s a big-play threat. Bona fide.”
North Dakota State put together a plan on how to beat Iowa last week. Rutgers coach Chris Ash took notice.
“They control the line of scrimmage up front on the offense,” Ash said. “They did it up front on defense. They’ve got good play from the quarterback. Those are the things that you need to do and they played good special teams. You don’t beat yourself, and those are the things that you’ve got to do to be able to beat a team like this.”
Ash had plenty of interesting things to say in his weekly press conference.
There is no doubt Rutgers will attempt similar success. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Scarlet Knights try defensive line stunts and delayed blitzes, which worked last week. Same with running away from Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell.
North Dakota State won by playing well up front and capitalizing on nearly every miscue Iowa made. Time will tell if Rutgers will be able to recreate the Bison blueprint.
The early offer
Iowa made a basketball offer on Wednesday to Ottumwa’s Xavier Foster. He is a Class of 2020 prospect.
— MidWest BB Exposure (@MWBballExposure) September 22, 2016
Foster is a 6-foot-10 forward. He’s talented. How does the Wake-Up Call know? Foster has been invited to take part in the U.S. Junior National Team minicamp, which will be held in October for Class of 2019 and 2020 prospects that could potentially present Team USA in international competition.
Line up the links
The Iowa athletic department took a look at how freshman kicker Keith Duncan ended up with the Hawkeyes. | Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette explains all you’d want to know about Rutgers and New Jersey. | Land of 10’s Scott Dochterman and the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Marc Morehouse break down Iowa football in their latest On Iowa podcast.