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Posts Tagged ‘Dace Richardson’

Bulaga gone, but reinforcements on hand

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

A few thoughts on Iowa’s offensive line situation as I sit here killing time in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, waiting for Delta Airlines to find a way to get me home from Miami:

I hope Bryan Bulaga knows what he’s doing. Iowa’s junior left tackle has declared for this spring’s NFL draft and while there never has been any doubt that Bulaga was destined to play in the pros, I would have liked his chances a lot more with one more year of college. He could be a late first-round pick this time. Had he waited, he might have been a top-five guy.

One concern is that Bulaga, although very mature both physically and emotionally, will not turn 21 years old until March 21. There weren’t any players in the NFL this season under the age of 21. In fact, the youngest player in the history of the league was Houston Texans defensive lineman Amobi Okoye, who was two months past his 20th birthday when he debuted in 2007.

This puts it in perspective: Riley Reiff, the redshirt freshman who figures to replace Bulaga at left tackle for the Hawkeyes, is actually three months older than Bulaga.

I just hope he’s not jumping too soon.

Even without Bulaga, Dace Richardson, Rafael Eubanks and Kyle Calloway, Iowa is going to have a good offensive line next season.

My guess at a projected starting lineup:

LT – Reiff. Reminiscent of Ross Verba in that he’s not overly big but very efficient. If he holds this position for the next three years, he would be 24 by the time he plays his final college game.

LG – Adam Gettis. Once he gets some experience and improves his pass blocking, he should be a star.

C – Josh Koeppel. He pushed Rafael Eubanks for the job this fall and could finally get his chance as a senior.

RG – Julian Vandervelde. Davenport native will be the leader of this group. If another guard emerges, he could get moved to center.

RT – Nolan MacMillan. After a year of prep school and a redshirt year, the Canadian native is about as physically mature as any freshman around.

Cody Hundertmark, who moved recently from defense to offense, could figure in the mix somewhere, too, as could James Ferentz, Kyle Haganman, Markus Zusevics, Casey McMillan and others. There were five other freshman offensive linemen who were redshirted this season. There’s more depth and talent here than people realize.

All-Big Ten teams had some surprises

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

There were only a few surprises on the All-Big Ten teams that were announced Monday night. One of the surprises was that Iowa was as well-represented as it was.

I figured the Hawkeyes might get as many as five first-team selections, but they had a league-high seven first-team players on the team chosen by the BigTen coaches, only four on the media team.
The five I thought were deserving: Linebacker Pat Angerer, strong safety Tyler Sash, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and cornerback Amari Spievey. All of those players made the coaches team and all but Spievey were honored by the media.

The coaches also put Dace Richardson and Tony Moeaki on the first team even though Richardson missed the last 4 ½ games of the conference season and Moeaki was more or less missing in action over that same span.

Other thoughts:

– The offensive line, which never really got its act together, had four players selected. In addition to Bulaga and Richardson, Rafael Eubanks and Kyle Calloway made the second team.

– Although 19 Iowa players received some sort of mention, there was at least one more that merited at least honorable mention. Receiver Marvin McNutt scored six touchdowns in a span of four Big Ten games, including some of the clutch plays of the season.

– Iowa’s defense received the recognition it deserved. The only two starters who didn’t get some sort of mention were Jeremiha Hunter and Shaun Prater.

– Although everyone knew Wisconsin’s John Clay and Penn State’s Evan Royster would be the first team running backs, I thought Adam Robinson had a chance to make the second team. He ended up being honorable mention on both teams with Purdue’s Ralph Bolden and Ohio State’s Brandon Saine making the second team.

– There was widespread disagreement on the first team wide receivers. The coaches picked Minnesota’s Eric Decker and Michigan State’s Blair White. The media went with Indiana’s Tandon Doss and Purdue’s Keith Smith. I would have voted for White and Smith.

– It was interesting that Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick was the coaches’ defensive player of the year, but he wasn’t even first team on the media squad. There’s no way he had a better season than Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield, Michigan State’s Greg Jones (the media pick) and Angerer.

– You can’t help but wonder how the coach of the year voting might have gone if the voting hadn’t been done with a week to go in the season. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz won the award, but Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern club finished very strong, beating Wisconsin in the final game to finish 8-4. Fitz might have gotten a few more votes if the voting was done later.

Rash of injuries a big concern

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

One of the hardest hitting games of the season prompted a handful of injuries and a great deal of uncertainty about Iowa’s lineup for next Saturday’s game with Indiana. A look at the injuries and their potential ramifications:

Dace Richardson: He has started every game this season, at three different offensive line positions, but I’m guessing we’ve seen the last of the big guy this season. He suffered what appeared to be a very serious foot or ankle injury (allegedly a fracture) and I can’t imagine he would be back before the end of the regular season. The good news is that there shouldn’t be much drop-off with veteran Julian Vandervelde ready to step back into the lineup at right guard.

Brett Greenwood: It looked really bad when they strapped Greenwood to a board and took him off on a cart, but that may have been largely a precautionary measure. The junior free safety was back on the sidelines in sweats at the end of the game. If Greenwood is out, fifth-year senior Joe Conklin becomes the starter. Conklin showed some inexperience when he was thrown into the action Saturday night, but with more preparation time he should be OK.

Colin Sandeman: He got knocked cold on a vicious hit by Michigan State’s Jeremy Ware. Head injuries aren’t anything to be taken lightly and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sandeman sit out a game or two. His absence would mean more playing time at receiver for freshman Keenan Davis, but it’s not clear who would replace Sandeman on punt returns. Maybe Davis. Maybe Tyler Sash. Maybe Amari Spievey. Sandeman had done a very good job since taking over for Paul Chaney so this could be a bigger loss than it appears.

Adam Robinson: Many people probably didn’t even realize that Robinson injured his ankle late in the game because he and Brandon Wegher share playing time at running back anyway. Wegher also was banged up in the game (a shoulder, I think) although he came back and played after that. It not clear at this point how badly hurt either of them is. If both of them are out, it’s a major crisis. Hawkeye fans aren’t eager to see Paki O’Meara return to the starting lineup.