2012 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Preview
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz
2011 Record: 7-6 overall, 4-4 Big Ten Legends
2011 Bowl Result: Lost 31-14 to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl
Odds to Win Big Ten Legends and Big Ten: 10/1 Legends, 25/1 Big Ten
Odds to Win 2013 Big Ten Championship: 250/1
Over/Under Regular Season Wins: Under 7 1/2 -120 / Over -110
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada
Apart from a 24-16 upset over Michigan, the Iowa Hawkeyes had a forgettable 7-6 campaign. Iowa suffered upset losses at Iowa St and Minnesota, but for the most part Iowa beat the teams they were supposed to, and lost to the teams that were better than the Hawkeyes. They lost to Oklahoma 31-14 in the Insight Bowl.
Iowa is coached by Kirk Ferentz, who is in his 14th season as head coach. Ferentz is one of only 5 coaches in the country hired before the year 2000, along with Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, Troy’s Larry Blakeney, Texas’s Mack Brown, and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.
Iowa must replace their top running backs, receivers, both lines, and break in new offensive and defensive coordinators. That sounds like a rebuilding year, but Iowa does have a relatively easy schedule, so we will see.
Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe had been on the staff since Ferentz was hired at Iowa. However, O’Keefe left to become the receivers coach for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Ferentz brought in former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis to run the offense. It was an uninspired hire, as Davis found it was a lot harder to have offensive success without quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Davis wasn’t really fired but demoted when Texas brought in Boise St assistant Brian Harshin as the coordinator.
Quarterback James Vandenburg returns for his senior year. In his junior year, he completed 58.7% of his passes for 3,022 yards with 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He was sacked 29 times, but did have 3 rushing touchdowns. He had 78 carries last year, but averaged only 0.8 yards per carry.
Incredibly, six Iowa running backs have left school since the 2010 season. The latest to do so is Marcus Coker, who rushed for 1,384 yards on 281 carries, with 15 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 157 yards. Coker was suspended before the last game of the regular season and left school in the spring. Coker had more carries than the rest of the Hawkeyes combined. The closest player as far as carries was Vandenburg, but he was way behind. No other Hawkeye had more than 31 carries. Jordan Canzeri was going to be the starter but he tore his ACL in the spring and is likely out for the season. Sophomores De’Andre Johnson and Damon Bullock will likely split the carries. Bullock had an impressive 84 yard scamper in the Iowa spring game, and has a good chance to be the starter. The two combined for only 28 carries last year, so we don’t know if they have the stamina to be a 20 carry a game workhorse like Coker was.
The Hawkeyes must replace the leading receiver in school history, Marvin McNutt, Jr., who had 82 catches, 1,315 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Senior Keenan Davis will be the go-to receiver after a 50 catch season last year for 713 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Kevonte Martin-Manley had 30 catches last year for 323 yards and Steven Staggs will get more targets after only 5 catches last year. Junior Don Shumpert and redshirt freshman Jacob Hillyer will both get plenty of target as the receivers aren’t very deep. Junior tight end C.J. Fiedorwicz had 16 catches, 167 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He will get more targets as Davis loves using his tight ends like did at Texas. Zach Derby will come in for two tight end sets. Derby had 12 catches last year.
The offensive line must replace 3 starters including All-Big ten left tackle Reilly Reiff. The line will be anchored by center James Ferentz, the coach’s son. Iowa will depend on a strong recruiting class to pick up the slack for a depleted line.
Norm Parker retired as the defensive coordinator after last season. Like O’Keefe, he had been with Ferentz from the beginning. Parker had a reputation for turning marginal recruits into stars on defense. He was replaced by Phil Parker, (no relation.)
Phil will learn pretty quickly if he has the same gift for turning nothing into something as Norm. The Hawkeyes must replace 5 of their top 7 tacklers from last year. The defensive line will be made up of a largely untested group. Dominic Alvis, Steve Bigach, Joe Gaglione, Mike Hardy, Riley McMinn, Melvin Spears, Carl Davis, Louis Trinca-Pasat, and Darian Cooper will all compete for playing time. The unit will have a lot of depth and looks to improve on a unit that got pushed around a lot last year.
Phil Parker said Iowa will blitz more and also play more press coverage. The linebackers will help in that game plan. The unit will be led by middle linebacker James Morris and outside backers Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens.
The secondary must replace safety Jordan Bernstine and cornerback Shuan Prater. Cornerback Micah Hyde and safety Tanner Miller do return. They will likely be joined in the defensive backfield by corner B.J. Lowery and safety Nico Law.
Junior kicker Mike Meyer made 14 of 20 field goals last year. He was a little inconsistent as he missed three kicks inside 40 yards, and had one blocked.
Former quarterback John Wienke takes over at punter for the fantastic Eric Guthrie. Guthrie averaged 41.2 yards per punt and forced 22 fair catches and 18 inside the 20. Wienke has a strong leg, but I don’t know if he will be as good as Guthrie.
Micah Hyde handles punt returns and averaged 8 yards per return. Keenan Davis handles kick returns. Neither unit was that great last year.
Iowa opens in Chicago against Northern Illinois. The Hawkeyes then play 4 straight home games against Iowa St, Northern Iowa, Central Michigan, and Minnesota. They should be 5-0 by the time they travel to Michigan St. The Hawkeyes then host Penn St, before playing at Northwestern and Indiana. Next up is a home game against Purdue. Iowa closes at Michigan and at home against Nebraska.
Yes, this team has a lot of questions on both sides of the ball. However, Iowa has a pretty easy schedule as they avoid Wisconsin and Ohio St. On paper, this team could be 9-3, but Iowa always loses a couple of games each year they shouldn’t. I say Iowa goes 7-5 and returns to a minor bowl game.
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