Aug. 29, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Quarterback James Vandenberg and the Iowa Hawkeyes began game week preparation Tuesday for their season opener against Northern Illinois.
After three weeks of intense preseason practice, the senior signal caller said the team is extremely eager for game week preparation and to play its first game.
"The excitement is ramped up," said Vandenberg. "We're all ready to get game week going and prepare for Northern Illinois.
"We need to play a good opponent like this right out of the gate. It makes it that much more important on how you prepare. When you're playing a team as good as Northern Illinois you have to make sure you are clicking on all cylinders."
The Hawkeyes have completed two days of practices preparing for the Huskies. Vandenberg said the difference in these practices is going against the scout team.
"You get to go against each other a little, but it's a lot more on the scout team and seeing some other looks," said the 6-foot-3, 212 quarterback. "We're seeing a lot of new things right now and moving in the right direction."
Vandenberg, who threw for 219 yards and two scores in the Hawkeyes' 34-7 win over Tennessee Tech in last season's season opener in Iowa City, said Northern Illinois has the Hawkeyes' attention.
"They're a very talented team," said Vandenberg. "They return a lot of guys on defense. It's going to be a great challenge and we're going to have to prepare well this week."
The season opener will be played at Soldier Field, which will be different for the current crop of Hawkeyes. Vandenberg expects to see a lot of Black and Gold in the stands Saturday.
"It's going to be a great environment," said the Keokuk, Iowa native. "Soldier field is a great venue. I know our fans will travel well to Chicago. It's a little different start to the season than we are used to, but it's something we're all looking forward to right now."
As far as differences between a pro stadium and college, Vandenberg doesn't think that will play a factor.
"I don't think there's that much difference," said Vandenberg. "Other than the nicer locker rooms and more room on the sidelines, there really isn't that many differences. As soon as you step on the field and warm ups begin you get locked into game mode. We are looking forward to the challenge."