Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Top 5 Spring Football Topics

5. Inside the Trenches: Defensive Tackle

After the departure of four year starters, Mitch King and Matt Kroul, a void is left at the point of attack for the Hawkeye defense. Defensive tackle Norm Parker has stated that the defensive tackle will be played more by committee this year.

Let's examine the candidates:

First we have Karl Klug. 6'4, 255 pounds, Klug is the front runner to start. He played so well in spot duty against Florida International last season that he earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Klug is more slender than King and Kroul, but tough as nails. He also played well in the upset victory against Penn St. Namely when he broke through the line to stuff Evan Royster as the Nittany Lions were driving.

The other three are less known. Mike Daniels (6'1, 267), Cody Hundertmark (6'4, 276), former offensive lineman Travis Meade (6'2, 285) has also made the switch to defensive tackle.

Defensive Ends Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard have also been willing to slide into the interior. Coach Ferentz called this "one of the best things of camp" and that they are displaying leadership on the line like King and Kroul. This slide allows sack-master and long-arm-extraordinaire Broderick Binns more opportunities to get on the field. Which is a good thing. Very good.

4. Quarter Back-Up

Ricky Stanzi is clearly the man this year. After a successful sophomore campaign, the signal caller returns as a leader of the offense. After Jake Christensen's decision to transfer and Marvin McNutt's move to WR, the question is not Stanzi, but who backs him up?

Two redshirt freshmen: the state of Iowa's all-time leading passer, James Vandenberg. Or the southpaw from Michigan, John Wienke. Right now, Vandenberg is listed ahead of of Wienke on the depth chart, but who knows how much stock we can put into that. Both should be getting plenty reps in spring ball.

If Stanzi goes down for anytime with an injury, one of these two young guns will have to step in. Confident?

3. Life after Greene: The Running Back Situation

Shonn Greene is gone to the NFL, likely to make tons of green. So who replaces him? The front-runner is Jewel Hampton. Hampton rushed for the 463 yards and 7 touchdown's as Greene's back-up. Hampton has been dinged up during the spring, so let's hope he gets healthy soon. Next on the depth chart is Paki O'Meara. Pak-Man rushed for 62 yards and 2 TD's. He's a capable, but not explosive, back-up if Hampton goes down. Next in line is redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson. The physical back tweaked an ankle in the spring scrimmage, but is expected to be fine. I'd guess that Brinson jumps O'Meara on the depth chart by Big 10 play if he can pick up the normal things freshman running backs are lacking: blitz pick-up blocking.

Don't forget about incoming freshman Brandon Wegher. Just watch.

2. Dace Richardson back on track for the Hawkeyes

Probably the best story out of spring ball is Dace coming back to the offensive line. I'd try and capture the adventure he went to get through to this point, but I'd screw it up. I'll let the Quad-City Time's Don Doxie elaborate.

Also, here is an article about Mt. Bulaga and the rest of the offensive line from ESPN's Big 10 blogger Adam Rittenberg.

1. Wide Receiver Competition

The most compelling story is coming from the most unlikely place. Converted from quarterback midway through last season, you could assume it would take 6'4 Marvin McNutt some time to learn the position. You would be wrong.

We thought it might be nothing when he was listed a top the spring depth chart, ahead of the leading, returning wide receiver (44 receptions, 639 yards, 3 TD's), DJK. It doesn't look it's nothing anymore.

Even if he finally concedes his starting spot to DJK, McNutt could give the Hawkeye's their first 'big' reciever in a long time. I can't wait to see how this plays out.


  1. Nice post, Josh. I think you hit on all of the major questions surrounding Iowa football in 2009. Fortunately, there aren't that many more questions than the ones you wrote about.

    I'm not too worried about the situation at defensive tackle, although it will be difficult to replace King and Kroul. I think Iowa has enough talent on the defensive side to overcome some shortcomings on the interior.

    The biggest question mark for me is the receiver position. I don't believe McNutt should be a starter, but then again, I haven't seen him up close in spring practice like the Iowa coaches have. DJK will still be the biggest impact player of the unit, but someone else has to step up. I'm pointing my finger at Trey Stross and Colin Sandeman. It's time for them to finally contribute.

    No one's been talking about Keenan Davis because he's not in spring practice. But I think he'll play immediately. The position could be a relative strength if all goes well, but it's far from a sure thing.

  2. I agree with Jacob, I'm excited to see what Davis can bring to the table once fall practice begins.

    It's really great to see Dace Richardson back on the field. If he can even contribute a little bit in 2009, that is well beyond what anyone was expecting. It really shows where hard work and determination can get you.

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