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2011 Preview – Iowa Hawkeyes

IOWA HAWKEYES (Last Year = 8-5, T4 in Big 10)


The Hawkeyes had some massive expectations coming into 2010. In 2009 the Hawkeyes finished the season 11-2 with a BCS Bowl win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The Hawkeyes would finish #7 in the polls. Amazingly enough the Hawkeyes were 11-0 when QB Ricky Stanzi started & finished a football game. Stanzi would return in 2010 along with RB Adam Robinson, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and defensive stalwarts Adrian Clayborn, Tyler Sash, Jeremiha Hunter, Brett Greenwood, Christian Ballard & Karl Klug. Iowa would enter the season ranked 9th in the polls, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. After beating E.Illinois and Iowa St. by the combined score of 72-14, the Hawkeyes traveled to Tuscon and lost to Arizona 34-27. They would win their next 3, but their second loss came by 1 point against 10th ranked Wisconsin. Despite a 5-2 record, Iowa’s 2 losses had been by a total of 8 points. Iowa would DESTROY 5th ranked Michigan St. 37-6 after the Wisconsin loss followed by a close win over Indiana, but at 7-2, the Hawkeyes would drop their next 3 games including 2 against Northwestern & Minnesota to finish a VERY DISAPPOINTING 7-5. They would beat Missouri in the Insight Bowl to finish 8-5, but despite starting the year #9 in the polls, Iowa would find themselves completely out of them by season’s end.

How bad does the 8-5 record look in retrospect? Consider that Iowa’s 5 losses were all by 7 points or fewer giving them a best case record of 13-0! Keep in mind also that Iowa’s best case record in 2009 was 13-0. Their best case record in 2008? You guessed it, 13-0. Over the last 3 seasons, Iowa’s best case record is amazing 39-0. How many other teams in the FBS have done what Iowa has done? EXACTLY ONE! Boise St. has a best case record of 40-0 over the last 3 seasons. Over the last 3 seasons, Iowa’s margin between very good team and national championship team has been about as razor thin as you can get. It makes the near misses in 2009 & 2010 very hard to stomach.


The losses are significant in my opinion. QB Ricky Stanzi was an outstanding QB. He passed for 3,004 yard including 25TD to only 6INT while completing 64% of his passes. He was a 5th round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs and was the first Iowa QB drafted since 1992! Stanzi leaves as Iowa’s #3 all time leading passer and remember that Stanzi’s best case record as a starter is 38-0! It’s a loss that will be almost impossible to overcome. Iowa also loses some RBs. They lose Adam Robinson due to suspension and Jewel Hampton transferred out. #1 WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and TE Allen Reisner also are gone. DJK & Reisner were Iowa’s #2 & #3 receivers respectively last season and combined for 88 catches, 1,205 yards & 12TD. Koulianos leaves as Iowa’s all-time leading receiver. The O-Line loses only one player, LG Julan Vandervelde, but it’s a big loss as Vandervelde was a 2nd team all Big 10 selection and a 5th round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles.


Most importantly for Iowa, is that they return 4 of their 5 starting offensive linemen. You can always count on Iowa to have a top shelf O-Line due to Kirk Ferentz being the HC and this year should be no different. RG Nolan MacMillan was a freshman All-American last season. LT Riley Reiff was a 2nd team All-Big 10 player. C James Ferentz, LG Adam Gettis and RT Markus Zusevics are all upperclassmen. The O-Line averages around 6’4/290lbs so there is some decent size there. Also returning is WR Marvin McNutt was a 2nd Team All-Big 10 selection & led the team in receiving last year with 53 balls for 861 yards & 8TD. RB Marcus Coker also returns. Coker could be a vital cog in Iowa’s offense. The 6’0/230lbs sophomore was a load last year as a rFR going for 622 yards & 3TD with a 5.5ypc average in spot duty for Robinson. With a veteran offensive line, Coker could turn in some significant rushing numbers.


RB Rodney Coe is a highly touted RB and the best player in Iowa 2011 Class. He’s a BEAST at 6’3/240lbs, and he could combine with Coker to form a formidable backfield with a grotesque amount of size. TE Ray Hamilton was one of the best TEs in the 2011 class. At 6’5/235lbs, he’s got great size for the position and the talent to go with it. WR Marcus Grant could see some time. He’s big at 6’3/195lbs. Obviously when you are talking Iowa you are going to talk offensive linemen. Although it’ll be tough to get any time on the line with the guys Iowa has coming back, freshman like Jordan Walsh, Dan Heiar and Austin Blythe could see some duty although all 3 look like guys who could benefit from a redshirt year.


Iowa averaged 28.9ppg last year and it’s difficult to see how they maintain that pace in 2011. HC Ferentz will have some work to do to figure out how his QB situation pans out. For the last 8 seasons he’s had either Drew Tate or Ricky Stanzi under center which is a great problem to have. This year the projected starter is James Vandenberg. The junior hasn’t had much experience in his first 3 years in Iowa City. Losing guys like Koulianos & Reisner won’t help matters. Iowa will have to play to their strengths this season which is pounding the ball with Coker so the offensive numbers will probably go down a notch. They’ll need players like Vandenberg, WR Keenan Davis & TE Brad Herman to step up big if there is to be balance in the attack.


The losses here are INCREDIBLE! The defensive line loses 3 NFL Draft picks. 1st Team All-Big 10 DE Adrian Clayborn was a 1st Rd. draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 2nd Team All-Big 10 DT Karl Klug was a 5th Rd. draft pick of the Tennessee Titans. DE Christian Ballard was a 4th Rd. draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Those losses are simply ridiculous! The LB core takes a beating as they lose 2nd Team All-Big 10 WLB Jeremiha Hunter who led the team with 90 tackles. The secondary wasn’t exempt either. SS Tyler Sash was a 1st team All-Big 10 player that was a 6th Rd. draft pick of the New York Giants. FS Brent Greenwood is also gone and he was a 2nd Team All-Big 10 player. SLB Jeff Tarpinian only made 5 starts last season but was the #10 tackler. He’s also gone. Iowa loses 4 of their top-5 sack guys, and lose 8 of their top-11 tacklers! Those loses equal 4 NFL draft picks and 5 players on the 1st or 2nd team all-conference defense. GOOD GRIEF!


Amazingly enough, Iowa does have some players coming back on defense. DT Mike Daniels was an honorable mention All-Big 10 player last year and was 2nd on the team in tackles for loss behind Klug. MLB James Morris was a freshman All-American last year as a true and was 4th on the team in tackles. CB Shaun Prater was a 1st team All-Big 10 selection! He was 5th on the team in tackles, 2nd on the team in passes broken up and led the Hawkeyes in interceptions. Don’t forget about DE Broderick Binns either. In 2009 the guy was an honorable mention All-Big 10 player as a sophomore. He was injured last season, but returns this year. Micah Hyde is another name to consider. A CB last season, Hyde will move to FS and was an honorable mention All-Big 10 player last year at CB. Hyde, Daniels, Binns, Prater & Morris can’t possibly make up for the incredible losses Iowa suffers, but they are solid players capable of All-Big consideration. It’s really amazing how many solid players there are here on defense despite the losses.


The big name here is rFR Carl Davis. Davis is a 6’5/310lbs DT who is a projected starter trying to replace Karl Klug on the the defensive interior. Those are big shoes to fill, but everything out of Iowa City about Davis has been very very positive. The only other guy that could have an impact is CB Jordan Lomax. He could see some time alongside Prater this season. Oddly enough the defense is pretty set when it comes to starters despite the massive losses.


The Hawkeyes allowed 17ppg last year which was 2nd in the Big 10 behind Ohio St. and even better than Nebraska, who makes their Big 10 debut this season. You might think Iowa is in for a significant drop in performance, but I’m not sure the bottom will fall out. With Binns & Davis joining Daniels on the D-line, there might not be a huge dropoff in production. Prater & Hyde return to the secondary as well. Hunter is still the QB at MLB. With that said, there absolutely has to be some regression. Iowa won’t all of a sudden start letting opponents score 30ppg on them, but the losses were so amazing that it’s incredible to think Iowa can maintain the level of defensive prowess they’ve had over the last 4 seasons. It’ll be a solid defense, but my guess is that Iowa gives up over 20ppg even if it’s just barely. The last time they’ve allowed that many points? It was 2006 which incidentally was the last time Iowa had a losing record.


Iowa’s schedule isn’t overly terrible, but the set up is odd. They’ll start the season with back-to-back games against Tennessee Tech & Iowa St. The play Iowa St. in Ames and as much as I LOVE this rivalry, I think Iowa wins because the Cyclones themselves are losing quite a bit. The return home to play Pittsburgh which I think gives the Hawkeyes their first loss of the season. The Panthers have two home games against Buffalo & Maine which will be just the kind of tuneups required to take down Iowa. Iowa follows that up with a game against UL-Monroe which is an easy W. Iowa has a bye week before they play Penn St. in Happy Valley, but the Lions are coming off a road game against Indiana which isn’t that bad. PSU has to figure out their QB situation, but they have so much back from last year that it’s difficult to think Iowa gets a win here on the road even with the extra week of preparation. Penn St. is good enough up front to stop Coker from going off and I don’t think Vandenberg is going to air it out against the Lions secondary. After Penn St. it’s Northwestern and I think NW gets a win here. Northwestern arguably has the better team and with the season starting to tank, Indiana comes in and HC Kevin Wilson gets his big win over the Hawkeyes. Iowa will rebound with a road win over Minnesota the following week. They return home for back-to-back home games against the Michigan teams, but I think Iowa loses both. They’ll go back on the road and beat Purdue before heading to Lincoln for their final game of the year on the day after Thanksgiving. Nebraska puts them away sending Iowa to a losing season.


It sounds crazy to put Iowa at 5-7, but I’m not sure where else to put them. According to Phil Steele, the only other teams that are less experienced that Iowa in AQ conferences are Auburn & Louisville. Steele has Auburn finishing in last place in the SEC West and Louisville finishing 7th in the Big East. While in my opinion Iowa is a big time program in college football, it isn’t quite on the same level of an Alabama, USC, Florida, Florida St., Ohio St., Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas or Notre Dame. Iowa does have to rebuild at times. This is simply one of those times. Plus I think the losses are so huge. Remember that Iowa is losing one of the best QBs in Iowa history. They are losing 2 of their top-3 receivers. They lose their top rusher. Defensively they lose 5 all conference players and 4 NFL Draft picks! That’s insane! The Hawkeyes are coming off a 3-year period where their best case record is 39-0. A rebuild had to be in the cards at some point. The 2011 season is the rebuild.


August 7, 2011 - Posted by | Iowa, Predictions, Previews

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