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Great questions here, and I'll give my take on them one at a time so it won't be too long of a post.
To me, the strengths on the roster are cornerback, all three linebacker spots and defensive tackle.
If the offensive line/tight ends/fullbacks creates the holes it did when Weisman went on his tear, most of the backs on Iowa's roster will have some success. The key up front is to be able to block like that against the upper-tier defenses on the schedule, and also to be able to protect the passer about 10 times better than they last year. That becomes even more of a necessity with a first-year starter behind center.
I think there are several holes right now entering spring practice, but the most glaring to me are defensive end, safety and offensive line.
The last two years, Iowa just hasn't had any quality pass rushers off the edge. Because of that, opposing quarterbacks have had a field day, and the Hawkeyes have struggled to get off the field on third down. That has to improve this year for Iowa to have a quality defense.
At safety, I liked what Bernstein provided against the run in 2011, but I thought Iowa's strong safeties in 2012 didn't play anywhere near Bernstein's level in that regard. Tanner Miller makes some big plays from time to time at free safety, but I don't think he's got the range or the ball skills to be the type of impact player Iowa needs. He's also not a sure enough tackler at that position.
Up front on offense, you could tell Iowa lost its starting tackles from 2011, as the Hawkeyes really struggled in pass protection against quality defensive ends, even when Scherff was fully healthy.
Leadership is always crucial in football. I think people sometimes tend to criticize individual players from afar too often when there are a lot of things that may or may not be going on behind the scenes. James Ferentz appeared to be one of the best - if not the best - leader on the offense last year. So in addition to replacing his experience and ability as a player, Iowa also needs someone to step up and lead in his place, no matter which position it comes from.
Defensively, as you mentioned, all three linebackers will be returning starters, and all three will be seniors. Morris has started since midway through his freshman season. Kirksey will be a three-year starter, and this will be the second season as a starter for Hitchens. Those three guys are probably the most likely to emerge as leaders. Based on his style of play, I could see Louis Trinca-Pasat emerging as a leader as well.
I could see a fair number of true freshmen and redshirt freshmen in the mix for playing time. Wouldn't at all be surprised to see offensive lineman Ryan Ward crack the rotation or even start this year as a redshirt freshman. At running back, I'd be a little surprised if LeShun Daniels isn't at least in the rotation this year as a true freshman.
Defensively, Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie will hopefully be ready to press for playing time at defensive tackle as redshirt freshmen. I would expect Ruben Lile to make a serious run at one of the safety spots as a redshirt freshman. And the three incoming defensive backs - Malik Rucker, Desmond King and Solomon Warfield, should all be on multiple special teams units. I wouldn't be surprised to see Warfield get some time at safety as well.
Not sure exactly what you mean by this. The most popular player entering the 2013 season is probably Weisman. I don't think he's the best player though.
Oh I am sure but I know this is a topic that can start fireworks between our own fan base, and I didn't want that I just wanted to talk football as it has been slow lately.
Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.
That's a great question. I think the three names to watch at receiver are Damond Powell, Jordan Cotton and Tevaun Smith, and then Jordan Canzeri at running back (just realized I forgot to mention him in a post above about the running back position).
This post was edited by Todd Worly 15 months ago
You would think so, but Davis actually told 2013 quarterback commit Nic Shimonek over the weekend that Iowa is hoping/planning to run more spread type of formations in 2013. You would think, whatever the scheme is, it'd be relatively simple, at least at first, so the new quarterback can get his feet wet.
With the talent they have at o line I dont know why they cant put something together, Donnal, Walsh,Blythe, Ward, Simmons I mean the first 4 were studs coming out of High School. And as far as the spread lesser teams have made it work great, maybe it would be a better way to open the run game more and with some of the speed we have coming in actually take shots down field just to keep defenses honest.
Oh I was hoping he transferred to an appropriate FCS program commensurate with his skill level.
To me, the key to Iowa's season has been for the last few years, rested in it's margin of error. Iowa's margin for error is very low and we cannot afford stupid penalties, turnovers, poor clock management, undisciplined special teams play, bad play calling and most importantly...injuries. All those things conspired against us in nearly every loss we had last year. And then again, it takes a certain level of talent to be great...not only with the starters but in the back-ups as well. Attrition can help explain that as well as a what I believe a fundamental breakdown in our recruiting process (i.e. too many pet projects and not enough studs).
It's really an economic question. When a team's playing well, often one or maybe two players emerge as its bell cows, its lightning rods, aka the faces of the program. Typically that's an offensive skill player because of the media's and fans' love affair with statistics. He tends to come to personify the team's identity and as the season progresses, fans buy their newest favorite player's jersey. But when it's not playing well, no one gets credit when people are too busy playing the blame game, no one cares, fans stop rationalizing throwing good money after bad, and no one buys anyone's jersey. And from what I've seen and heard from my friends and co-workers who are Hawkeye fans, who seem almost embarrassed by the state of the program, Iowa's pretty much there.
So if someone becomes the face of Iowa's program in 2013, it'll be because the team's playing well. I agree that guy could be Weisman; he's not a sexy pic but he is the classic, hard-nosed, lunch pail kind of blue collar player Iowa's become known for.
In 2010, Ohio State signed only one OL. There were a TON of Buckeye fans who were PO'd that Donnal left the state. I've been waiting for him to step up and assert himself.
How is the oline so good at run blocking but can't pass protect? Is it partly on the qb? What is it?
Being from Ohio, I was ecstatic we landed Donnal. OSU concentrated way too much on chasing "All World roBust" Seantrel Henderson, and failed to even offer Donnal. Thanks Tressel.
The only knock I have on him is his knee bend. He'll play way too high at times. I wasn't thrilled that they had him playing guard at 6'7, but we couldn't keep him off the field, even though to me he struggled being out of position. When Scherff went down, he should've been switched to his natural LOT, and MacMillan brought into ROG, where he was a freshman All-American before his sports hernia. But they didn't and he got rolled up on and tore his ACL. Another brilliant coaching decision to add to the list in 2012.
This post was edited by OhioHawk07 15 months ago
Youth and inexperience was key in that aspect. We had to replace both OT and our ROG. Run blocking is far easier than pass protect, ask anyone who has done it. It will come in time. We had a nice streak of not giving up a sack after the No. Illinois game...until injuries decimated our line.
Also, JVB failed at times to read the D and account for certain blitzers, and at times just failed to get rid of the ball in time, which could be partly to blame on the WR's for not getting separation. Not to mention our RBs did a piss poor job of pass protecting at times, which to me, should be one of the first things that gets you PT as a RB, blitz pick-up.
I learned that Norm Parker was the reason for any success this program had under Ferentz. The program began to decline consistently when Norm's health became an issue.
While O'Keefe was a punching bad when his offense became unproductive (usually in 2nd half of games) and many times predictable, iowa fans found out the grass isn't always greener.
If Greg Davis' offense is the same crap as this past season and Ferentz does not intervene to rewrite and/or change the playbook, I will lose all respect for the head coach.
I think this will be a tough year. Breaking in a new QB. Talentless and slow wide receivers. Linebackers who are slow and not that good, yet rack up a ton of tackles because the D-line is so bad the tackles have to be made by players past the line of scrimmage.
The secondary is probably very talented but may get picked apart due to no pass rush. Give a QB and receivers enough time and there will eventually be an open pass, regardless of great pass coverage.
Honestly, I think we will see about the same results as last season. Probably around 4 wins. Same conservative coaching decisions. Same horizontal offensive scheme. The defensive scheme that would work if there were a talented D-line. Poor clock management when it counts.
I think we will get the same excuses with the added "breaking in a new QB" excuse.
I do think if Iowa isn't winning, we will begin to see empty seats, starting in the student section. I also can't see fans and media as forgiving this next season. As last season progressed, Ferentz's call in radio show got so ugly they stopped doing it. Expect the same if the team isn't very good again.
This post was edited by u2Hawk 15 months ago
Thanks for the rundown Worly.
Its a good question who will be the leaders on O and D. Good ones are hard to come by, but when found they can add a couple notches in the W column and a few less notches in the police blotter.
Imagine usually those questions arent answered till practice starts.
Last year I would say Ferentz on O and Hyde on D.
This year on O Scherff imo.
It would make sense that its Morris on D due to experience and position. My only question mark on him as a leader is during his interviews he seems kinda corny. Maybe a few teammates would rather laugh at him than follow. If anyone seen the Iowa Football w Kirk Ferentz Show last year when they were using the Riddell helmet cams knows what im talking about.
Different skillsets are required for pass blocking than for run blocking, so it's possible to be good at one, but not the other. Unfortunately, Iowa lost the best three pass blockers from the 2011 squad and the guys that filled in all happened to struggle more in that area than their predecessors did.
In my opinion, the formula for a winning football team requires a) great defense, which starts with the DL sealing the LOS and putting pressure on the QB, b) great run offense, which chews up clock and wears down the opposition's DL, c) a solid, heady, efficient quarterback as the guy who touches the ball on virtually every offensive play, and often touches it last (learning to throw the ball out of bounds to avoid a sack or kill the clock or knowing when to take a sack rather than force a throw that could turn into an interception, tucking it in and getting 3-4 yards to get a crucial 1st down and keep a drive alive), d) protecting the football on offense and creating turnovers on defense, and e) dependable special teams to win the field position battle.
I tend to use the NFL's pay scale as a reliable metric for evaluating a team's strengths and weaknesses and it looks like this: 1) QB, 2) DE, 3) OL but especially LT and Center as the other who touches the ball on every play but also calls the OL signals, 4) DT, 5) CB, 6) LB, 7) WR; 8) RB; 9) Safety; 10) Kicker/Punter, and 11) TE. From what I have been able to discern, Iowa's a lot stronger on the back end of that continuum--3) experienced OL, 6) three senior LBs, 8) Weisman, 10) Meyer and Kornbrath, and 11) Fiedorowicz--than it is the front end--1) no experience at QB, 2 and 4) Swiss cheese DL, 5) who will replace Hyde? 7) will anyone step up as a playmaker at WR to stretch the field vertically? and 9) experienced but inconsistent safety play.
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