Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Riley Reiff’

A look at the offensive line

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Projected starters – LT Riley Reiff (6-6, 300, so.); LG Julian Vandervelde (6-3, 300, sr.); RG Adam Gettis (6-4, 280, jr.); RT Markus Zusevics (6-5, 295, jr.); C Josh Koeppel (6-2, 273, sr.) or James Ferentz (6-2, 275, so.)

Top reserves – Cody Hundertmark (6-4, 285, jr.), Woody Orne (6-5, 295, jr.), Brett Van Sloten (6-7, 290, fr.), Matt Tobin (6-6, 285, so.), Kyle Haganman (6-5, 285, sr.)

Futures – Nolan MacMillan (6-6, 288, fr.), Connor Bofelli (6-5, 285, fr.), Andrew Donnal (6-7, 285, fr.), Brandon Scherff (6-5, 310, fr.), Casey McMillan (6-4, 305, so.), Drew Clark (6-4, 288, fr.)

This is the biggest question mark area on the entire Iowa team and it undoubtedly will be a work in progress as the Hawkeyes prepare for the start of Big Ten play. The major building block is Reiff, who started 11 games at three different positions while earning third-team freshman All-American honors last season. He figures to be the starting left tackle for the next three years. Vandervelde brings the most experience with 24 career starts. After that come the question marks.

Gettis and Zusevics, two juniors from the Chicago area, have slowly worked their way up the depth chart through the years but both have limited playing experience. Gettis started one game last season. Zusevics, a former high school volleyball star, never has started. Neither have either of the two players battling for the starting center job. Koeppel has been in the program longer but don’t be surprised if the coach’s son beats him out for the job.

Hundertmark, who moved from defense to offense at the end of last season, was described by Kirk Ferentz last spring as the only other offensive lineman who looked ready to play at that point although he saw very limited action in the Kids Day scrimmage last week. Orne started seven games as a freshman at South Dakota State in 2008, but still seems to be adjusting to a higher level of competition. Everyone else except Haganman is just beginning to figure out what they’re doing.

A player to watch might be Nolan MacMillan, a Canadian who is nearly 20 years old but still has four years of eligibility remaining.

Depth for fall may be better than ever

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Iowa may or may not have one of its best football teams ever next fall.

One thing that does seem certain: It will be one of the deepest teams it has had.

The Hawkeyes will be pretty well insulated against injuries at almost every position except pos-sibly the offensive line and safety. Everywhere else, there are pretty good players waiting in the wings in case the starter goes down.

A look at the Hawkeyes by position following spring drills:

Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi is going into his third season as the starter and should be less turn-over-prone. That was a major point of emphasis in the spring. James Vandenberg showed last sea-son that he can be a capable backup and you get the feeling southpaw John Wienke gained ground on Vandenberg in the spring. The coaches said he made a major step up and you could see it in the spring scrimmage. Wienke looked crisper and more accurate than Vandenberg that day.

Running back: If Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher all are healthy, this is going to be very interesting. Robinson may have a slight edge in some of the little things like pick-ing up the blitz, but the other two probably are more elusive and have a bigger upside. It’s almost guaranteed that one of them will get hurt anyway. If more than one gets hurt, I still think there is a chance freshman Marcus Coker could be a factor right away.

Fullback: Senior Brett Morse is solid and there’s not a ton of drop-off to junior Wade Leppert. This isn’t an every-down position anyway.

Wide receiver: Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos have a chance to be the Hawk-eyes’ best receiver tandem since … well, maybe ever. Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney are pretty good, too. If Keenan Davis improves as much as the coaches hope and Jordan Cotton continues to progress and 6-foot-6 Don Nordmann is as good as he looked in the spring scrimmage, they’re loaded.

Tight end: Don’t be surprised if Allen Reisner duplicates the statistical numbers Tony Moeaki provided last year although he’s probably not going to be as good a blocker. Brad Herman and Jonathan Gimm apparently made strides as the backups this spring but they still might have trou-ble holding off high school All-American C.J. Fiedorowicz, who should be game-ready when he arrives.

Offensive line: There is good depth at center, where James Ferentz and Josh Koeppel are bat-tling for the starting job, but this is one place the depth is a bit thin. There are a lot of big bodies behind Riley Reiff, Julian Vandervelde, Markus Zusevics and Adam Gettis but apparently no one who is ready to play with any sort of consistency. Coach Kirk Ferentz said converted defensive lineman Cody Hundertmark is the closest to being ready. If no one steps forward in the fall, there may be an opportunity for Ohio high school star Andrew Donnal to see playing time as a true freshman.

Defensive line: The Hawkeyes may be deeper than ever here. All four starters – Adrian Clay-born, Karl Klug, Christian Ballard and Broderick Binns – return intact with Clayborn and appar-ently Klug primed for starring roles. And some of us have felt for some time that Ballard ranks among the most underrated players on this team. Backup tackle Mike Daniels is good enough to start for half the teams in the Big Ten and young ends LeBron Daniel and Dominic Alvis have emerged as potential stars of the future. Pencil in Daniels and Daniel as certain starters for 2011.

Linebacker
: This is another area where the competition has been fierce. Jeremiha Hunter is a third-year starter and Jeff Tarpinian and Tyler Nielsen have emerged as the starters at the other two spots, but Bruce Davis and Troy Johnson are still pushing. Even long-time walk-on Ross Peter-sen looked good in the spring scrimmage. You’ll still see some true freshman play here in the fall, though, as the Hawkeyes brace for the future. Hunter, Tarpinian, Johnson and Petersen are seniors and Davis and Nielsen are juniors.

Cornerback: Shaun Prater is solidly entrenched on one side and sophomore Micah Hyde may be a future star on the other side. Jordan Bernstine, projected to start ahead of Prater last fall before breaking his ankle, may have a hard time finding playing time but he, Greg Castillo and William Lowe provide quality depth.

Safety: Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood – known to some of us as Sashwood – are one of the best tandems in the country but it’s hard to even guess at who the backups are at this point. Walk-ons Kyle Steinbrecher and Tom Donatell ran with the No. 1 unit in the spring scrimmage, apparently moving ahead of two scholarship players, Jack Swanson and Nick Nielsen, in the final week of drills. All those players have good size and Nielsen had two interceptions last Saturday. The depth isn’t necessarily bad, just unproven.

Kicker: Daniel Murray is the returning starter, but Ferentz has made it clear he wasn’t com-pletely satisfied with the job he did. Trent Mossbrucker, who redshirted last season after being the kicker for much of 2008, has at least an shot at winning the job.

Punter: Another place where the depth isn’t great behind four-year regular Ryan Donahue. But how often does your punter get hurt anyway?

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.