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Posts Tagged ‘Hawkeyes Football’

Gearing up again

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

It’s been a long, relatively quiet summer – for everyone except maybe Broderick Binns, Jewel Hampton and Jordan Bernstine – but things are about to start gearing up again. The Big Ten will hold its football media day this week, the Iowa resumes practice later in the week and the Hawkeyes will hold their own media day on Friday.

The Big Ten media day always brings little bits of information, mixed with lots of posturing and happy talk from the coaches. Each coach will have 15 minutes in a massive group interview with the media on Monday, then reporters have a chance to speak to the coaches and three players from each team in a one-on-one setting on Tuesday morning. Iowa’s three players in attendance will be Ricky Stanzi, Adrian Clayborn and Karl Klug.

The big topic of discussion Monday figures to be the expansion of the Big Ten – commissioner Jim Delany also will get 15 minutes at the podium – and I would think Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will have some information on what sort of punishments will be levied against Binns, Hampton and Bernstine, all of whom had brushes with the law during the summer.

We will have coverage of Monday’s activities in a live blog at Hawkmania.com and qctimes.com from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will have updates throughout the week from both the Big Ten and Hawkeyes media days.

Wisconsin win is a good omen

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Iowa fans who are wondering how their team will match up with Georgia Tech next Tuesday night in the FedEx Orange Bowl should take heart from what happened in the Champs Sports Bowl last night.

Wisconsin handled Miami (Fla.), giving us one more piece of evidence that Atlantic Coast Conference football isn’t very strong this year. The final score was only 20-14, but it really wasn’t that close a game. The Badgers dominated, outgaining Miami 430-249 and holding the Hurricanes scoreless for more than 58 minutes in the middle of the game.

The ACC is now 1-3 in bowl games with the only victory being a fairly unimpressive 21-13 win by Clemson over a so-so Kentucky team. Clemson gave ACC champion Georgia Tech all it could handle in two meetings between the two teams this season. Tech also lost to Miami while Iowa defeated Wisconsin.

You can’t put too much stock in comparative scores, but it does seem to confirm what a lot of us gave been saying: That the Big Ten isn’t all that bad and the ACC isn’t all that good.

The Big Ten will get five more bowl tests over the next few days and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the league win three of those games although none of them are against ACC opponents. It’s already shaping up better than last year when the Big Ten was 1-6 in its post-season endeavors.

Hawkeyes not likely to go Gaga

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The Hawkeyes have landed in Florida. Unfortunately, I have a few more days before I join them there.
I’ve only had two people offer today to go along and carry my bags for me. Most days, it’s five or six. It must be warming up outside.

Kirk Ferentz told reporters upon landing in Florida on Sunday night that he planned to loosen the reins and let the players have some fun in these first few days. But knowing Ferentz, the players aren’t going to have much opportunity to find any real mischief. We’re betting they are under a pretty tight curfew by New Year’s Eve.

Lady Gaga, an international recording artist given to outlandish dress and unpredictable onstage behavior, is scheduled to perform at the team’s hotel — the Fontainebleau — on New Year’s Eve. A few players last week told us they thought wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was the player most likely to jump up onstage with the flamboyant Gaga although others mentioned injured wideout Paul Chaney and freshman Josh Brown (both accomplished rappers) as possibilities.

Chances are, none of them will even get a glimpse of Gaga and not just because of whatever curfew they might be under. The lowest priced tickets for her concert are $425. The good seats, up near the stage, are $25,000.

Erb, Campbell had great years, too

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The players get most of the credit when a football team has the kind of season Iowa has had.

And the head coach takes his share of bows.

The offensive and defensive coordinators also get a small piece of the credit.

But as offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe pointed out last week, a couple of other assistant coaches also deserve a large share of credit for the fact that the Hawkeyes went 10-2 in the regular season.

O’Keefe made note of how much work receivers coach Erik Campbell has invested in making Marvin McNutt into a topflight Big Ten receiver. And he said what Lester Erb has done as the team’s running backs coach is nothing short of amazing.

Entering fall camp, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher were pretty much No. 4 and 5 on the depth chart, but they end up playing extremely well. Robinson set Iowa’s freshman rushing record and Wegher had the highest yardage total ever by a true freshman. Between them, they rushed for 1,303 yards and 12 touchdowns and did an exceptional job of picking up blitzes on pass plays.

“I have to say Lester Erb has done an unbelievable job the last two years,’’ O’Keefe said. “He took Shonn Greene off the furniture truck and got him ready to play. And Jewel Hampton was only a true freshman. Then this year he took two guys who were great high school players but hadn’t ever played at this level and got them ready.’’

Tech a very unusual team

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The more I look at the stat sheet, the more anxious I am to get a look at this Georgia Tech team. This is a very unusual football team.

I’ve heard a little about the Yellow Jackets over the course of the season, but I didn’t really start studying them until they were matched with Iowa in the Jan. 5 Fed Ex Orange Bowl.

Some observations:

– None of Tech’s starting offensive linemen is over 300 pounds and the right tackle is a 254-pound former running back.

– The three backs who have combined for nearly 3,000 yards this season – Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt and Anthony Allen — all weigh 214 or more pounds. Allen, who has averaged 9.8 yards on his 61 carries, checks in at 228.

– The Yellow Jackets have completed only 76 passes this season with 46 of them going to one player: 229-pound wideout Demaryius Thomas, who averages 25.1 yards per catch.

– As a team, they average more than 23 yards per reception.

– Their quarterbacks have completed 47.8 percent of their passes, which has to be among the worst in the country, but they’re eighth in the country in passing efficiency.

– Punt returner Jerrard Tarrant averages 14.3 yards per return and has two runbacks for touchdowns this season.

– More than half their quarterback sacks are by one player, Derrick Morgan.

Some of those numbers would seem to be red flags. On paper, it looks as though they only have one receiver who needs to be covered and one defensive lineman who needs to be blocked. I’m sure it’s not that simple. You don’t get to be 11-2 and a 3 ½ -point favorite in your bowl game by being that unbalanced.

Like I said, it’s a very unusual team.

It might be Miami instead of Phoenix

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

On the eve of learning where everyone is headed for the bowl season, everything seems to have turned around. It now appears as though Iowa may be headed for a Jan. 5 date with Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

Several media outlets are now reporting that the Fiesta Bowl is contemplating a matchup between the two unbeaten non-BCS teams – TCU and Boise State. For several weeks the experts have been forecasting an Iowa-Boise matchup.

If the Fiesta uses its first at-large selection on TCU, the Orange Bowl likely would then scoop up Iowa.

There has been speculation that one of the BCS bowls might opt for Penn State over Iowa even though the Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions in a head-to-head battle.

However, an Orange Bowl official told Iowa reporters two weeks ago that his bowl is very interested in “unique matchups,’’ pairing schools that never have played one another before. Penn State and Georgia Tech have played seven times through the years although the most recent meeting was in 1991.

Georgia Tech might be a tough matchup for the Hawkeyes. There have been times in the second half of the season that they looked vulnerable to strong ground game. The Yellow Jackets are the best triple option team in the country. Running back Jonathan Dwyer and quarterback Josh Nesbitt have combined for 2,337 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns this season.

Recruiting class gets even better

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Iowa already was having a very good recruiting year, but things got a lot better this week when C.J. Fiedorowicz, regarded by some as the top tight end prospect in the country, announced that he would renege on an earlier commitment to Illinois and sign with the Hawkeyes.

Fiedorowicz, a 6-foot-7, 240-pounder from Johnsburg, Ill., had been rumored to be reconsidering for several weeks and he told the Chicago Sun-Times he feels much more at ease with the Hawkeyes than he ever was with the Illini.

“I wasn’t happy with what is going on at Illinois,’’ he told the Sun-Times. “I like all the coaches at Iowa. They will be staying around for a long time. I went to the Iowa-Minnesota game last weekend and the atmosphere was so much better than at Illinois. Now I feel good about my decision.’’

While Iowa often features the tight end in its offense, Fiedorowicz said it seemed as though the Illini threw to theirs “maybe 10 times all year.’’

Fiedorowicz, who also had football offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and LSU and basketball offers from Indiana and Wisconsin, is considered to be a superb receiver who needs some work on his blocking skills.

“He has an NFL body,’’ recruiting expert Tom Lemming said. “If he listens to his college coaches, he’ll be a first-round draft choice.’’

Fiedorowicz is the 20th player to commit to the Hawkeyes, who weren’t expected to sign quite that many. Included are three four-star recruits and 16 three-star recruits, according to Rivals.com. Three of those players were named Iowa’s high school player of the year in their respective classes last week – A.J. Derby of Iowa City (4A), Matt Hoch of Harlan (3A) and James Morris of Solon (2A).

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.

Davis best bet to play as true freshman

Monday, August 24th, 2009

The Hawkeyes used seven true freshmen last season, many more than in most years, and it would be very surprising to see that many first-year players see the field this sea-son. Our guess is that as few as three or four true frosh will play this fall.

We won’t have any answers until Kirk Ferentz’s first weekly news conference a week from now, but one guy that seems almost certain to get extensive playing time is highly regarded wide receiver recruit Keenan Davis of Cedar Rapids Washington.

Davis took a few snaps with the No. 1 offense in the Hawkeyes’ public scrimmage and looked very smooth. He appeared to be as fast and as elusive as any receiver on the team.

Who else? Maybe Micah Hyde. He was the Northwest Ohio offensive player of the year as a quarterback last fall, but he could be pressed into service very early on the de-fensive side of the ball, simply because that’s a major need area for the Hawks right now. Starting cornerback Jordan Bernstine is out for the season with an injury and his backup, Shaun Prater (who played as a true freshman last fall), is suspended for the first two games.

Another possibility is Jordan Cotton, son of former Hawkeye and Davenport Central star Marshall Cotton. He figures to be far down the depth chart at receiver, but could have an immediate impact as a return man.

The only other reasonable possibilities are running back Brandon Wegher; Josh Brown, who could end up at either running back or defensive back but has the makings of a good special teams guy; Shane DiBona, who could find a place far down the depth chart at linebacker; and Nolan MacMillan, a prep school recruit who supposedly has looked very good in the offensive line. The O-line is perhaps the deepest area on the team, however. MacMillan would have to be really good to break into that mix.

Hampton injury a concern

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Close to a dozen players sat out Iowa’s public scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, mostly for precautionary reasons.

My guess is the one that Hawkeye fans need to be most concerned about is sophomore Jewel Hampton, who is being counted on to step into the starting running back job.

Bryan Bulaga, who might be the best offensive tackle in the Big Ten, didn’t suit up after “tweaking’’ his knee the day before but he ran a few sprints and seemed OK. Receiver Colin Sandeman said his hamstring injury isn’t a big deal. Tackle Kyle Calloway, who is suspended for the first game anyway, took part in a few drills. Chances are, the other guys who sat out won’t make the two-deeps anyway.

But the absence of Hampton, because of his importance to the Hawkeyes’ fortunes and because this is the second time in about a month that he has injured his right knee, has to be cause for concern.

With Hampton out, former walk-on Paki O’Meara ran with the No. 1 unit and actually looked pretty good. People keep dismissing O’Meara as a legitimate contender for the starting job, assuming that redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson is a better prospect, but O’Meara remains ahead of Brinson on the depth chart and he looked better Saturday.

O’Meara ripped off about a 30-yard run at one point while Brinson’s most impressive moment was a play in which he stayed on his feet following a head-on collision with Adrian Clayborn, then was swallowed up by other defenders for about a 5-yard loss. Bear in mind that O’Meara was running against the No. 2 defense while Brinson was carrying the ball against the No. 1s.

Adam Robinson, a redshirt freshman from Des Moines with decent quickness but not much size, is the only other guy who might be ready for any sort of playing time at this time. I could see him being effective against Northern Iowa and Iowa State, but probably not Penn State or Ohio State.

Incoming freshman Brandon Wegher, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a senior in high school last fall, was not in uniform for the scrimmage and another true freshman, Brad Rogers, didn’t look that great in very limited opportunities.