Aug 14, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Something was lacking Tuesday when the University of Iowa football team scrimmaged inside Kinnick Stadium. Effort was there, improvement was there, but fans were not.
That will change Saturday, when the Hawkeyes put on a show in front of spectators for the first time in fall camp. The Kids at Kinnick event will be the team's 17th practice leading up to an Aug. 31 opener against Northern Illinois.
"We love getting out here and having fans in the stadium," UI junior offensive lineman Andrew Donnal said. "It makes for a more competitive environment because every guy is amped up to impress their families and friends and ready to get more into a game environment."
Gates to Kinnick Stadium will open Saturday at 4 p.m. (CT), with practice scheduled to begin at 5. Team members will sign autographs for 30 minutes following the two-hour practice.
"We haven't had fans in the stadium for a while, and it's good for us to get out and play in front of people," UI junior defensive back John Lowdermilk said. "It helps us focus and get better."
Activities begin in the Krause Family Plaza at 3 p.m. Fans are invited to visit the Elite Chevy Dealers Kid Zone in Krause Family Plaza for games, face painting and to meet Herky. The Iowa mascot will be available for photos from 3:30 to 4:30.
"They should know Iowa football. We are always bouncing back, and we're always working hard. It starts with us believing in ourselves. We believe in ourselves, and we can't control who believes in us from the outside. We have to keep working hard and hopefully it all pays off."
UI senior linebacker
The UI Children's Hospital and Noodles & Company will have displays for children and Blue Bunny will be serving cool refreshments. Also in Krause Family Plaza fans can have their picture taken with the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series trophy and sign up to win tickets to all 2014-15 Cy-Hawk events, courtesy of Iowa Corn. Fans can also register to win tickets to 2013 home football games against Missouri State and Western Michigan.
Once practice begins Saturday, Hawkeye fans are in for a treat.
"We're ready. We're hungry," Lowdermilk said. "Every day we're coming out and trying to get better. We're focusing every practice, and we're excited to be out (in Kinnick Stadium) again."
After Tuesday's scrimmage, when the defense allowed one score, Hitchens tipped his hat to the Hawkeye offense which has made great strides in camp.
"We have a good offense, and we have our hands full with them, so we have to keep working," he said.
And his message to fans who might be on the fence after Iowa turned in a 4-8 season in 2012?
"They should know Iowa football," Hitchens said. "We are always bouncing back, and we're always working hard. It starts with us believing in ourselves. We believe in ourselves, and we can't control who believes in us from the outside. We have to keep working hard and hopefully it all pays off."
Donnal said the Hawkeyes are pushing hard and are never satisfied.
"We're always looking to get better," he said. "We're never going to get complacent or think that we have made it. After our performances last year we want to prove ourselves and be the best we can be."
Fans attending the open practice should enter Kinnick Stadium at Gates A (south end zone) and E (west side). Regular season game-day search procedures will be in place and fans will be allowed to sit in the south and west stands. Autograph items, such as football posters, schedule cards, magnets and rosters will be available inside both gates. Fans are discouraged from bring additional items to be autographed.
Single-game tickets for all seven Hawkeye home contests inside Kinnick Stadium are available on hawkeyesports.com. Iowa opens the season Aug. 31, hosting Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. (CT).