Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Final Fall Preview: Offense



Starter: Ricky Stanzi

Junior starter Ricky Stanzi is back after a successful 2008 campaign. The incumbent starter threw for 1956 yards and 14 touchdowns, good enough for a 134.8 QB rating. After replacing starter Jake Christensen early in the season, Stanzi provided an accurate arm (59.1% completion percentage), mobility in the pocket, and a reliable deep arm that stretched the field; three qualities that had been previously lacking under Christensen. He led the Hawks to key wins over Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota and South Carolina in the Outback bowl.

This season, Stanzi needs to learn to limit his turnovers. He threw 9 interceptions and fumbled numerous center exchanges. If Stanzi can cut down on the turnovers, he’s likely an All-Big 10 performer.

Backups: James Vandenberg, John Wienke

Vandenberg, a redshirt freshman from Keokuk, is the most prolific passer in Iowa high school history. Vandenberg holds 12 different Iowa high school passing records, including career passing yards (7,709), touchdown passes (93), single season passing yards (3,729 as a senior) and single season touchdown passes (49 as a senior). He ranks sixth all-time nationally in single-season completion percentage (70%) and 10th nationally in career completion percentage (64.6%).

Wienke, a redshirt freshman out of Michigan, is the other back-up. He owns conference record for single season touchdown passes (34 as a junior and senior) and finished his career with 6,070 passing yards and 68 touchdowns. The southpaw threw just nine interceptions in 620 attempts. He also had 102 rushes for 441 yards and four touchdowns.

The common theme in all the statistics is they were accomplished in high school. With the transfer of Christensen and Marvin McNutt’s move to wide receiver, Stanzi’s backup is lacking any experience at all. This could be trouble if Stanzi were to get injured

Big 10 Rankings: 4/11
1. Daryll Clark – Penn State – 192/321, 59.8%, 2,592 yards, 143.4 Rating, 19 TD, 6 INT
2. Terrelle Pryor – Ohio State - 100/165, 60.6%, 1,311 yards, 12 TD, 4 INT
3. Juice Williams - Illinois – 219/381, 57.5%, 3,173 yards, 138.1 Rating, 22 TD, 16 INT
4. Ricky Stanzi – Iowa – 150/254, 59.1%, 1,956 yards, 134.8 Rating, 14 TD, 9 INT
5. Adam Weber – Minnesota – 255/410, 62.2%, 2,761 yards, 126.9 Rating, 15 TD, 8 INT
6. Mike Kafka – Northwestern – 32/46, 69.6%, 330 yards, 131.1 Rating, 2 TD, 3 INT
7. Tate Forcier – Michigan - none
8. Dustin Scherer – Wisconsin – 104/191, 54.5%, 1,389 yards, 120.7 rating, 6 TD, 5 INT
9. Ben Chappell – Indiana – 80/153, 52.3%, 1,001 yards, 112.0 rating, 4 TD, 3 INT
10. Kirk Cousins – Michigan State – 32/43, 74.4%, 310 yards, 145.7 rating, 2 TD, 1 INT
11. Joey Elliott – Purdue – 8/15, 53.3%, 81 yards, 98.7 rating

This year, it’s Stanzi’s team. Gone are the spring position battle, the back-up role, and the switching of starters. However, also gone are the best Iowa offensive line since 2002 and the best running back in the nation, Shonn Greene. Stanzi’s receivers are talented, his running backs capable, and his offensive line should be dominant once again. This team will go as far as Ricky Stanzi can lead them.


Starter: Brett Morse

Statistics are few and far between for fullbacks, so Morse’s ability is hard to quantify. He’s a solid blocker and displays good hands as a receiver in those rare opportunities. Morse’s major downfall is that he was often injured last year. Morse is a good fullback and should clear the way for whoever is running the ball for the Hawkeyes.

Backups: Wade Leppert

Due to Morse’s often injured status, Leppert got plenty of experience last season. A decent replacement, Leppert possesses many of the same characteristics of Morse; the two are almost interchangeable skill-wise. Positions like fullback are often only noticed for the wrong reasons. Leppert’s time came during a crucial 4th down play at Michigan State where it appeared he went the wrong way.

Newcomers: Shane DiBona

DiBona massed 2,958 yards on 426 carries with 32 rushing touchdowns as a prep. He also had 29 catches for 415 yards and four touchdowns.

Running Back

Starter: Jewel Hampton

There’s an 1850-yard, 20 touchdown, gaping hole in the Hawkeye backfield. Greene was drafted with the first pick in the third round by the New York Jets. His back up last season, Jewel Hampton, now steps into the starting role. Hampton rushed for 463 yards on 91 carries, good enough for a 5.1 yard per rush average. He also punched in 7 touchdowns. Impressive for a back up, but even more impressive considering Greene was a short-yardage, bruiser style back. Hampton’s long of 22 isn’t great, but he’s shown tremendous quickness and good top-end speed. Hawkeye fans haven’t seen him in a starting role yet, so his durability remains a question. Hopefully he learned a little bit from his predecessor and starts to make his own mark this season.

Backups: Jeff Brinson, Paki O’Meara

The coaches have been buzzing about Brinson since he arrived last season. It’s possible he may have reversed roles with Hampton last season if not for an injury during fall camp. Coach Ferentz has said he considered pulling the redshirt of Brinson last season. Apparently this kid has some talent. He finally gets to display it this season.

Paki O’Meara is not your typical walk-on running back. Sam Brownlee he is not. The Cedar Rapids native rushed for 2 touchdowns on 3 yards per carry. Used most effectively as a special teams player, Paki could be a talented replacement if Hampton and Brinson were to go down for any reason.

Newcomers: Brad Rogers, Brandon Wegher

Rogers is a compact, bruiser style running back from Ohio. He could possibly play fullback, but has stated his intent is to play running back. Rogers rushed for 1,226 yards on 246 attempts with 18 touchdowns as a senior.

Brandon Wegher rewrote the Iowa high school record books. Rushed for 6,825 yards on 792 carries with 105 touchdowns, including 3,238 yards on 362 carries with 54 touchdowns as a senior. Added 50 catches for 837 yards and four touchdowns... also had 87 tackles, nine interceptions, 18 passes defended and three sacks. The Sioux City native is the most highly sought after recruit since Jordan Bernstine. He’ll likely start this season returning kick-offs, but look for him to eventually have an impact in the running game as well.

Big 10 Rank: 6/11
1. Evan Royster – Penn State – 191 rushes, 1,236 yards, 6.5 avg, 12 TD
2. John Clay – Wisconsin – 155 rushes, 884 yards, 5.7 avg, 9 TD
3. Daniel Dufrene – Illinois – 117 rushes, 663 yards, 5.7 avg, 0 TD
4. Brandon Minor – Michigan – 103 rushes, 533 yards, 5.2 avg, 9 TD
5. Dan Herron – Ohio State – 89 rushes, 439 yards, 4.9 avg, 6 TD
6. Jewel Hampton – Iowa – 91 rushes, 463 yards, 5.1 avg, 7 TD
7. DeLeon Eskridge – Minnesota – 184 rushes, 678 yards, 3.7 avg, 7 TD
8. Ralph Bolden/Jaycen Taylor (torn ACL) – Purdue – 170 rushes, 560 yards, 5.2 avg, 4 TD
9. Bryan Payton – Indiana – 79 rushes, 339 yards, 4.3 avg, 2 TD
10. Stephen Simmons – Northwestern – 62 rushes, 178 yards, 2.9 avg, 2 TD
11. Andre Anderson – Michigan State – 26 rushes, 97 yards, 3.7 avg, 0 TD

Wide Receiver

Starters: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Trey Stross, Colin Sandeman

Iowa had two receivers with 100 yard games last season: Andy Brodell had one, DJK has the other. The leading returning receiver, DJK caught 44 balls for 639 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. He really improved over the course of last season and should be Stanzi’s most dangerous weapon. He is a legitimate deep threat, though he possesses a skill set that allows him to also work underneath routes. DJK absolutely abused Minnesota. Here’s to hoping that abuse of the Big 10 continues. Prediction: 2nd Team All-Big 10 performer.

Trey Stross is as talented a receiver as the Hawks have, he just can’t seem to stay healthy. Big play Trey is the Hawk’s best deep threat. He’s athletic (high jumps for the track team), tall (6’3), and most importantly, a natural receiver. It seems he’s put his temper issues behind him (head butting against Northwestern in 2007, arguing and pushing a coach the same season) and could be headed toward big things. If he can stay healthy, and that’s a big IF, many skeptical Hawks will be pleasantly surprised.

Colin Sandeman is the unknown of the group. Last season he caught only 6 passes for 76 yards. However, 2 of those 6 passes were touchdowns. He’s lightning quick and extremely agile. Sandeman will probably replace Andy Brodell as the primary punt returner. If Sandeman can emerge has a reliable target, this group is as talented, though very inexperienced, as any wide receiving core since 2002 (C.J. Jones, Mo Brown, Ed Hinkel).

Backups: Paul Chaney, Marvin McNutt

This group of back-ups is not particularly strong or experienced. Paul Chaney might be the fastest player on the team, but he’s been in the coaches’ proverbial dog house for awhile now. He’s not big and doesn’t go get the ball well, that being said, he’s probably the 4th receiver right now.

Marvin McNutt is an interesting prospect. He moved to receiver in the middle of last season and has been practicing there ever since. At 6’4 and 210 pounds, McNutt could potentially fill a void as a red-zone receiver. He was a highly touted basketball recruit, so chances are he has a good vertical. Perhaps will see an end zone, fade route for the first time in Iowa history with McNutt.

Newcomers: Jordan Cotton, Keenan Davis, Stephane N’goumou, Josh Brown

Of the three, Keenan Davis is the most likely to play right away. Davis is often compared to former Michigan player and Cedar Rapids native, Adrian Arrington. Wide receiver coach Erik “Soup” Campbell tutored Arrington at Michigan and will be mentoring Davis. He’s long, rangy, and athletic. Look for Davis to contribute right away. He totaled 169 receptions for 2,602 yards and 26 touchdowns his senior season of high school.

Jordan Cotton, Josh Brown, Stephane N’goumou could possibly contribute as there is little experience throughout the receiving corp. Cotton is moving from a stellar high school career at Mount Pleasant as a running back and the transition will take some time. Brown is listed as an athlete, so there’s a possibility he could play multiple positions. N’goumou has good size (6’4, 195), but other than that, is relatively unknown.

Big 10 Rankings: 4/12
1. Erik Decker – Minnesota – 84 receptions, 1,074 yards, 89.5 ypg, 7 TD
2. Arrelious Benn – Illinois – 67 receptions, 1,055 yards, 87.9 ypg, 3 TD
3. Mark Dell – Michigan State – 36 receptions, 679 yards, 67.9 ypg, 3 TD
4. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos – Iowa – 44 receptions, 639 yards, 49.2 ypg, 3 TD
5. David Gilreath – Wisconsin – 31 receptions, 520 yards, 40 ypg, 3 TD
6. Keith Smith – Purdue – 49 receptions, 486 yards, 2 TD
7. Martavious Odoms – Michigan – 49 receptions, 443 yards, 0 TD
8. Dan Sanzenbacher – Ohio State – 21 receptions, 272 yards, 1 TD
9. Terrance Turner – Indiana – 29 receptions, 289 yards, 0 TD
10. Graham Zug – Penn State – 11 receptions, 174 yards, 2 TD
11. Andrew Brewer – Northwestern – 18 receptions, 145 yards, 0 TD

Tight End

Starter: Tony Moeaki, Allen Reisner

Though he’s one of the most talented players on the entire roster, don’t count on Tony Moeaki being a consistent contributor for the Hawkeyes. He’s talented, a great receiver and blocker, but has never played even close to a full season for Iowa. He was pictured in a walking boot earlier this year, so don’t expect anything to change. When he’s healthy, he has All-American potential. The problem is that the snake-bitten tight end never actually is.

Allen Reisner got a lot of experience last season behind First Team All-Big 10 performer Brandon Myers. Reisner actually had the highest yards per reception average of all receivers at 18.2. He caught 11 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. The junior tight end from Marion has displayed good hands (Wisconsin 2008 one-handed grab), but so far is only an average blocking tight end.

Backups: Brad Herman? J.D. Griggs? Kyle Spading? Ross Peterson?

Who? Exactly. There aren’t many recognizable names behind Moeaki and Reisner. Luckily, tight end is a position that can be filled from a variety of other positions (fullback, linebacker, and receiver) and is one that the Hawkeyes have developed well over the years i.e. Tony Jackson, Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler, Brandon Myers, etc.

Newcomers: Anthony Schiavone, Dakota Getz

Schiavone, a 6’6 tight end from New London, Connecticut enrolled early at Iowa in order to practice with the team for spring. Hopefully at his height, he’s a Scott Chandler clone.

In his prep career, Getz totaled five receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. He rushed for 3,195 yards on 429 carries with 40 touchdowns. At quarterback, Getz completed 288-457 passes for 4,011 yards and 40 touchdowns. He played primarily quarterback as an upperclassman. The Hawkeyes have had recent success with moving high school quarterbacks to other positions, i.e. Chad Greenway, Adam Shada, Marvin McNutt, etc.

Big Ten Rank: 5/10
1. Garrett Graham – Wisconsin – 40 receptions, 540 yards, 5 touchdowns
2. Michael Hoomanawanui – Illinois – 25 receptions, 312 yards, 2 touchdowns
3. Charlie Gantt – Michigan State - 19 receptions, 302 yards, 4 touchdowns
4. Nick Tow-Arnett – Minnesota – 10 receptions, 211 yards, 1 touchdown
5. Tony Moeaki – Iowa – 13 receptions, 144 yards, 1 touchdown
6. Andrew Quarless – Penn State – 11 receptions, 117 yards, 1 touchdown
7. Kyle Adams – Purdue – 8 receptions, 109 yards, 2 touchdowns
8. Jake Ballard – Ohio State – 5 catches, 73 yards, 0 touchdowns
9. Josh Rooks – Northwestern – 7 receptions, 46 yards, 2 touchdowns
10. Max Dedmond – Indiana – 6 receptions, 51 yards, 0 touchdowns
11. Martell Webb – Michigan - none

Left Tackle

Starter: Bryan Bulaga

In my opinion, the most talented player on the roster, Bulaga spent last season paving defensive ends into the ground. A Second Team All Big-Ten selection, Bulaga has been projected to go in the top 10 of next years draft by the Walter Camp Football website. Only a junior, he’s the most dominant offensive lineman since Robert Gallery, even potentially more dominant. Iowa fans will be thanking their chosen deity if he comes back to school after this season.

Backups: Riley Reiff

Riley Reiff could do a variety of things this fall. Perhaps backup Bulaga, perhaps move into a starting spot at guard, perhaps watch the Hawks play from the sidelines. After making the move from defensive end, it seems Reiff has found a spot on the offensive line. In high school, he was the South Dakota Gatorade player of the year as a senior. Though his status as starter or backup is uncertain, there’s no arguing that we both thoroughly enjoy Pita Pit. Philly Steak with mushrooms and Swiss cheese melted on please.

Newcomers: Brett Van Sloten

6’7, 270, Van Sloten was a First team elite all-state selection as a senior, second team all-state selection as a junior, three-time all-district pick, including first team honors as a junior and senior. He led team to state championship in 2008.

Left Guard

Starter: Dace Richardson

Undoubtedly the story of the spring. The extremely unlikely return of Dace Richardson could help bolster an offensive line that needs some stability after the departure of seniors Rob Bruggeman and Seth Olsen. Although Dace was a left tackle before the injuries started, Bulaga has that spot on lock down. Not many people come back to football after what Dace went through, so any production, especially starting, is simply amazing.

Backups: Kyle Haganman

6’5, 285, Haganman played in eight games last year. The guard from Osage, IA may be the next walk-on success story for the Hawkeyes. Look for him to make a splash in the next couple years. (Self-promoting, glory day’s side note: Haganman and I played on separate teams at a post-season basketball game held at NIACC. Late in the game, I blocked/climbedonhisbackandfouledhimbutitwasn’tcalled off the backboard. Ultimately, he has the upper hand. He’s playing for the Hawkeyes and I’m writing on my blog about him. The score: Haganman – Infinity, Heyer – 1.)

Newcomers: Conor Bofelli

Bofelli comes from one of the most successful high school programs in the state of Iowa, West Des Moines Valley. His high school team went 43-1 over his four years as a prep. As a tight end, Bofelli totaled 31 catches for 402 yards and two touchdowns.


Starter: Julian Vandervelde

The only returning starter on the interior of the offensive line, Julian Vandervelde may have to adapt to a new position. If Dace his healthy and effective at guard, Vandervelde may slide to center. Iowa uses a ‘best five’ approach to the offensive line. Vandervelde is definitely in one of those five, the only question is where.

Backups: James Ferentz, Rafael Eubanks

James Ferentz absolutely destroyed any chance of him starting, and maybe even playing, this year when he was arrested for public intoxication earlier this spring. My guess is we don’t hear from him until next year.

I feel genuinely bad for Rafael Eubanks. He was named first team Freshman All-American by scout.com in 2006. Before 2007, he was named to the pre-season Rimington Trophy Watch List. Last season, Bruggeman took his spot at center and Eubanks spent the year backing-up Bruggs and the other two guards. As a senior, it’s Raf’s last chance to make an impact.

Right Guard

Starter: Andy Kuempel

Right guard is the position that is most up for grabs for the 2009 Hawkeyes. There are 4-7 people legitimately competing for this position. I listed Andy Kuempel as the starter because of his performance in Seth Olsen’s absence last season, especially against Wisconsin. Many of Shonn Greene’s runs were right behind the Linn-Mar native.

Backups: Dan Doering, Adam Gettis

First team all-American by USA Today, Parade Magazine and EA Sports as a senior in high school. Gatorade State Player of the year for Illinois. Like many others from the heralded class of 2005, high school success hasn’t transferred to college. To be fair, Doering has been injury prone thus far into his career. A senior, Doering must have a sense of urgency to grab the position. Otherwise, he’s just another class of 2005 casualty. (Quick note: It could be a year of resurgence for the class of 05. Dace is back, Tony is poised to have the type of year everyone expected him to. If Doering grabs the right guard position, this could be a huge storyline for the season.)

Adam Gettis is relatively unknown to Hawkeye fans, especially those of the casual variety. Remember his name. Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said Gettis was one of the guys who really stood out during spring ball.

Newcomers: Matt Murphy

Murphy is a bit undersized and possibly an offensive line project. He was a Quad City Times first team all-Metro selection as a senior and three-time all-conference selection, including first team offensive and defensive line honors as a senior.

Right Tackle

Starter: Kyle Calloway

After a dismal sophomore season, the humongous (6’7, 315. Cripes) right tackle turned around his play and garnered 2nd Team All-Big Ten Honors. If he makes even similar strides this offseason, Iowa will have the best set of offensive tackles in the Big 10.

Backups: Markus Zusevics

There’s not much information out there on the Russian import. (Kidding, he’s from Illinois). He was first team all-state and all-area as a senior. I’d be very surprised if he saw any action this season.

Newcomers: Nolan MacMillan

MacMillan is listed at 6’6, 288, which is very, very large for a true freshman. He was named first team all-MAP as a senior and led his team to state championships in 2006 and 2007. He’s also Canadian. I’d bet the NCAA Clearinghouse does an investigation after reading this.

Big 10 Offensive Line Ranks: 1/11
1. Bryan Bulaga – Iowa
2. Stefen Wisniewski – Penn State
3. Zach Reckman – Purdue
4. Gabe Carimi - Wisconsin
5. Al Netter – Northwestern
6. Joel Nitchman – Michigan State
7. Michael Brewster – Ohio State
8. Jon Asamoah– Illinois
9. Matt Stommes – Minnesota
10. Rodger Saffold- Indiana
11. Mark Ortmann– Michigan

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