2013 Iowa Hawkeyes College Football Preview
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz
2012 Record: 4-8 overall, 2-6 Big Ten Legends
2012 Bowl Result: Did Not Qualify
2013 Returning Starters 6 offense, 7 defense
Odds to Win 2014 BCS Championship: 1500/1
Odds to Win 2013 Big Ten Championship: 40/1
Odds to Win 2013 Big Ten Legends Division: 15/1
Regular Season Wins: over 5.5 -150 / under 5.5 +120
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Last season, Iowa missed a bowl game for only the fourth time in coach Kirk Ferentz’ tenure which began in 1999. Iowa finished 4-8 but Hawkeye fans will say 5 of their losses were by 6 points or less. However, by the same token they were lucky to beat Northern Illinois 18-17 and upset Michigan St 19-16 in double overtime. So the Hawkeyes just as easily could have been 2-10 as 6-6. So 4-8 seems about right. Iowa lost their last 6 games after a 4-2 start last season.
Ferentz is one of the longest tenured coaches in football but his job could be in jeopardy if Iowa has another mediocre season. However, it isn’t all bad news as Iowa was lucky to be placed in the new West Division next season, and avoids being on the same side as Ohio St and Michigan.
Here is a look at the offense, defense, special teams and schedule for Iowa in 2013.
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Greg Davis is the offensive coordinator. Davis will have to improve an anemic offense that was 114th in the nation out of 124 teams last season.
He will have to break in a new quarterback, but honestly that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Gone is James Vandenberg, who threw for just over 2,200 yards with 7 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. There is a three way battle to replace Vandenberg. Sophomore Jake Rudock was the back-up last year but didn’t take a snap. He is a pure passer, and should be able to get the ball down field more than Vandenberg. Rudock is the favorite to be the starter, but junior Cody Sokol (a former JUCO transfer who redshirted last year for the Hawkeyes) and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard are also in the mix. Freshman Nic Shimonek threw 33 touchdown passes as a Texas high school senior and is also a dangerous runner. He could be a dark horse to steal the starting job if he has an impressive fall camp.
Junior running back Mark Weisman rushed for 815 yards with 8 touchdowns last year. He rushed for over 100 yards in the first four games, but injuries hampered him in the next 8 games. He rushed for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Hawkeyes’ 32-31 upset loss to Central Michigan. He also caught 15 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Junior Damon Bullock rushed for 150 yards on 30 carries in the season opening 18-17 win over Northern Illinois but injuries also hampered him. he would finish with 513 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns along with 18 catches for 167 yards. If Weisman and Bullock can stay healthy the Iowa rushing attack should be much improved from a unit that was last in the Big Ten last season. Sophomore Jordan Canzeri returns after missing all of last year with a knee injury. He is very quick and has the potential to break off some huge runs. LaShun Daniels could also get some carries, but could be moved to linebacker. Adam Cox and Macon Plewa will split time at fullback. Neither will get many carries, but could catch some passes.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz would have been drafted in the NFL but decided to come back for his senior season. Despite getting very little from the quarterback position, he had 45 catches, 433 yards, and a score. Junior receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley led the Hawkeyes with 52 catches, 571 yards and 2 scores. Sophomores Tevaun Smith and Jacob Hillyer will also get some targets as will Y Back Jake Duzey. None had more than 16 catches last season. Tight end Jon Wisnieski has big play capability.
The offensive line might have been the best unit on offense last year, but they suffered some key losses. Left tackle Brandon Scherff was solid at left tackle last year but injuries sidelined him late in the season. Senior right tackle Brett van Sloten started every game last season. Conor Bofeli and Andrew Donnal will start at the guards. Austin Blythe makes the move from guard to center after putting on 25 pounds in the off season. Mitch Keppy, Nolan Mac Millian, Eric Simmons, Jordan Walsh and Colin Goebel will also see time in the rotation.
Defensive coordinator Phil Parker had a unit last year that wasn’t terrible, but spent a lot of time on the field due to the pathetic offense. The pass rush was almost non-existent last year, which didn’t help the secondary. Still Iowa didn’t give up a lot of big plays.
Senior defensive end Dominic Alvis was second on the team last year with 3 sacks, and had 31 tackles. He has struggled with injury in his career, and if healthy could provide at least some semblance of a badly needed pass rush. Drew Ott and Riley McMinn will platoon at the other end. Defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat had 40 tackles including 4 for loss. He looks to return from a shoulder injury. Carl Davis could start if Trinca-Pasat isn’t healthy at the beginning of the season. Darian Cooper will start at the other tackle. after making 34 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. Freshmen tackles Nathan Bazata and Brant Gressel will also see some time in the rotation.
While there are some questions on the defensive line and the secondary, there are no such questions in the linebacking corps. Weak side linebacker Anthony Hitchens had 124 tackles last year, but only had one sack and 5.5 tackles for loss. James Morris returns to the middle where he had 113 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a pick. On the strong side, Christian Kirksey had 95 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 pick sixes, 4 fumble recoveries, and 3.5 tackles for loss. Cole Fisher, Quinton Alston, Travis Perry. and John Kenny will also see time at linebacker.
Jordan Lomax and Sean Draper will rotate at one corner. B.J. Lowerey will man the other corner after making 50 tackles, an interception, and 3 broken up passes. John Lowdermilk and Nico Law will rotate at strong safety. Senior free safety Tanner Miller had 69 tackles, 3 for loss, and broke up 5 passes. Freshman safety Solomon Warfield has a lot of potential.
Senior kicker Mike Meyer made 17 of 21 field goals last year. He doesn’t have the strongest leg, but is reliable inside 50 yards.
Sophomore punter Connor Kornbrath struggled last year averaging just 37.5 yards per punt and putting 10 inside the 20. He needs to improve or the punt coverage will struggle again.
Jake Cotton averaged 28.2 yards per kick return and had a 92 yard touchdown return. He takes over the punt return duties as well.
The schedule is pretty tough. The non-conference games include home games against Northern Illinois, Missouri St and Western Michigan, and a road game against Iowa State. Missouri St is the only guaranteed win, and even Western Michigan won’t be a cakewalk. The Big Ten schedule is brutal with road games at Minnesota, Ohio St, Purdue, and Nebraska. and home games against Michigan St, Northwestern, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The offense has to show some improvement or it will be another long season. Rudock and Sokol have to be better than Vandenberg, because you really can’t get much worse. The running backs are healthy right now and they should be productive. Still, this team should be better than last year and they could sneak into a bowl at 6-6, but 7 or 8 wins would be a stretch.
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