2011 Iowa Preview – Offense
Iowa WR Marvin McNutt
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Iowa Hawkeye Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
It didn't really seem like it, but the offense was actually a whole bunch better last season than it was in the 11-2 campaign. There weren't the heart-stopping comebacks of 2009, but the attack worked averaging 383 yards and 29 points per game after finishing 89th in the nation in total offense and 86th in scoring. The pass protection was better and the passing game was far, far more efficient, and now there's some rebuilding to be done. The line will be among the best in the Big Ten and will be a major strength if everyone can stay healthy around left tackle Riley Reiff and center James Ferentz, and that'll be a huge plus for new starting quarterback James Vandenberg. The running game will be Marcus Coker, Marcus Coker, and Marcus Coker, and the passing attack will revolve around Marcus McNutt. The key to the offense will be finding a good No. 2 running back and a steady second and third receiver.
Star of the offense: Senior OT Riley Reiff
Passing: James Vandenberg
5-8, 45 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Marcus Coker
114 carries, 622 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Marvin McNutt
53 catches, 861 yds, 8 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior WR Keenan Davis
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
Best pro prospect: Reiff
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reiff, 2) WR Marvin McNutt, 3) RB Marcus Coker
Strength of the offense: Line, Starting Skill Players
Weakness of the offense: Proven Depth, No. 2 Running Back
State of the Unit: Ricky Stanzi had an interesting and productive career, and while he wasn't the same comeback kid in 2010 that he was in 2009, and while he had a slightly disappointing year – but only compared to expectations - he was a good leader who threw 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions with 3,004 yards and completing 64% of his passes. The passing game was ultra-efficient, finishing 11th in the nation in passing efficiency, and the production is expected to keep on rolling.
Junior James Vandenberg is mostly known for a tremendous performance against Ohio State a few years ago with the Big Ten season on the line, but he only saw mop-up time last season completing 5-of-8 passes for 45 yards and a score with all the production coming early on. At 6-3 and 212 pounds he has good size and he's far more mobile than Stanzi, running for 32 yards. The 2007 Iowa High School Player of the Year has the prep résumé, throwing for 7,709 yards and 93 touchdowns, and he appears to have progressed over the offseason and should be ready to be the main man.
6-5, 220-pound junior John Wienke was a tremendous high school passer throwing for 6,070 yards and 68 touchdowns, and he was also a strong defender making 113 tackles with six sacks to go with recognition as an Illinois all-state punter. A top recruit for Michigan, he ended up picking Iowa once the Lloyd Carr era is done. Now he's trying to become a factor after not getting any real chances so far.
Redshirt freshman A.J. Derby is a very big, very strong quarterback … maybe. The 6-4, 225-pounder has a huge arm, prototype size, and just enough athleticism to have run for 752 yards as a high school senior, but there's a thought that he could end up being a linebacker or even a quick defensive end. He's not fast enough to be a safety, but he could be a tremendous outside linebacker with a little bit of work. However, he's a passer who'll get every shot at the No. 2 job.
Watch Out For … Jacob Rudock. The good recruit has pro-style passing skills and the athleticism to add more of a rushing element to the equation. Smart, tough, and with a live accurate arm, he could be the future, and he'll be the one many are waiting for down the road. He'll almost certainly redshirt, but he could be a part of the fun if the backups aren't better.
Strength: Size. This is a huge group of bombers who fit the pro-style mold. The 6-3, 212-pound Vandenberg is the lightweight of the bunch next to the 6-5, 220-pound Wienke and the 6-4, 225-pound Derby. All of them can push the ball down the field.
Weakness: The backups. Vandenberg stepped up his game in spring ball, but Wienke and Derby don't appear to be ready for primetime. They're not the decision makers that Vandeberg is, and they don't have the same arm.
Outlook: It's Vandenberg or bust. He's a talented player ready to break out and shine. While it's asking a lot to be as efficient as Stanzi, he has a bigger arm and can push the ball down the field and make big things happen. Wienke and Derby have to start improving to keep Hawkeye fans from sweating every time No. 16 gets hit.
Unit Rating: 7
State of the Unit: Welcome to college football's Spinal Tap drummer position. You name the issue, from quitting to injuries to academics to suspension, Iowa running backs have had a variety of problems over the years and the production always seems to come from out of nowhere. Shonn Greene came from out of relative obscurity for a Doak Walker winner, and despite more issues last year and finishing 70th in the nation in rushing, the ground game was effective.
As a true freshman, there wasn't supposed to be much work for Marcus Coker, who ran for 60 yards early on in mop-up time against Ball State, and then he started to get in the mix in the second half of the year as the main man for Indiana, running for 129 yards on 22 carries and taking off for 90 yards in the loss to Minnesota. Even with his promise and potential, no one could've seen what was coming. The Insight Bowl was supposed to be all about the passers with Missouri's Blaine Gabbert dueling with Iowa's Ricky Stanzi, but Coker stole the show running for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. The expectations are through the roof, as is the pressure as the only back with any experience returning. He's big, shifty, and can run, and while he's not going to catch the ball much, he can be used more as an outlet target.
5-10, 205-pound junior Jason White is an academic all-star with good quickness, but he has mostly been a special teamer so far and had just one carry for 14 yards. The walk-on is a good blocker who'll do whatever is needed, but he's not likely to be a major factor in any way. Redshirt freshman De'Andre Johnson is a shifty-speed runner with 5-8, 210-pound size and nice potential. The Miami native was fine this spring and will likely move ahead of White on the depth chart if disaster strikes.
The depth might come from the latest recruiting class with the potential for another Coker-type player to step up and produce. Mika'il McCall is a big 6-0, 215-pound runner who's good around the goal line and has a nice burst. Originally a Michigan State Spartan, he changed it up late and could quickly be the No. 2 back. 5-9, 172-pound Jordan Canzeri is extremely quick with sprinter's speed, and he could end up being used as a defensive back if there's a logjam of young runners. The same is true for Damon Bullock, a 6-0, 195-pound smart athlete from Texas who has the look of a tremendous nickel back.
Fullback isn't set with sophomore Brad Rogers trying to get back after being diagnosed with heart issues. At 5-10 and 215 pounds he's not all that big, but he's a nice blocker and can be used as a big runner with 75 yards on 11 carries. He's a good, tough special teamer who can be used in a variety of ways, including at tailback, but he has to be 100%. If he can't go, 6-3, 240-pound junior Jonathan Gimm will step in and should be a good blocker and a receiver. Part tight end, part fullback, he's going to pave the way but isn't going to get much work as a runner.
Watch Out For … the freshmen. If something happens to Coker, White isn't going to be the main man. There's a chance that Johnson becomes the man, but if needed, the freshmen will likely be a part of the equation sooner than later to provide the quality depth.
Strength: The offensive line. As long as Coker stays healthy, the running game will be just fine. The offensive front is loaded with experience, talent, and all-stars, and it'll blast away for anyone who's running the ball.
Weakness: The No. 2 runner. With Adam Robinson getting dismissed, wanting back in, and now looking for transfer when Iowa kept the door closed, and with top recruit Rodney Coe going the JUCO route, the Hawkeyes are very, very thin behind Coker. The assumption is that Iowa gets production out on anyone it throws out there, but this year the backup situation really is an issue.
Outlook: Going into last year, the running back situation was Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher, and Jewel Hampton, and none of them are around anymore. Coker has All-Big Ten skills, but he has to prove he can get the job done for the full season. The depth is an issue, but the freshmen should come through with a little time and seasoning.
Unit Rating: 7
State of the Unit: Last year, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was a devastating gamebreaker who came up with ten touchdowns and 745 yards, but he didn't exactly finish out his career on a high note going out with legal issues. There's work to be done to replace DJK and other key targets, and it could be a little while to find the right targets for new starting quarterback James Vandenberg. There aren't a lot of household names, but the production will come.
The No. 1 target and star-in-the-making is senior Marvin McNutt, a former quarterback who grew into the receiver job leading the way with 53 catches for 861 yards and eight touchdowns. Steady more than sensational, he rolled for 126 yards against Indiana, but that was his only 100-yard game of the season. Even so, the 6-4, 215-pounder is a true No. 1 to work around with good deep speed, smart route-running skills, and the ability to come through in the clutch when needed. Even though he led the team, though, DJK was the one most defenses keyed on. Now McNutt will be the focus of every secondary, but he has the talent and the makeup to be an all-star as well as a team leader.
Junior Keenan Davis didn't do too much for the offense finishing with 11 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, but now he's the main option on the other side of McNutt. With a 6-3, 215-pound frame and next-level speed for his a player of his size, the abilities and raw skills are all there, and he showed off this spring that he's ready to blow up. The star of the spring game he was athletic, productive, and looked like he upped his game enough to become an impact star.
6-3, 185-pound sophomore Don Shumpert saw a little bit of time as a true freshman as a special teamer, making three tackles, but he has the size, smarts, and talent to quickly become the third man in the mix and as a key backup behind McNutt. The former defensive back might be raw, but in time he should be a major factor, while redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley is going to get a look behind Davis. Still raw, the 6-0, 200-pounder who started out as a possible Bowling Green Falcon needs time, but he'll get his chances.
6-5, 247-pound senior Brad Herman is a good receiving tight end prospect and should quickly be a bigger part of the attack. He stretched the field averaging 17.1 yards per catch on nine grabs for 154 yards, and now it's his turn at bad. A high school linebacker, he has grown to get to this point and should be a breakout performer. He'll split time with one-time star recruit C.J. Fiedorowicz, who originally signed on with Illinois and has the 6-7, 265-pound size and the athleticism to be a major factor. The sophomore was a great high school basketball player and an unstoppable receiver at times, now he has to be a matchup nightmare after working mostly on special teams.
Watch Out For … Fiedorowicz. A very, very big get for the program, he didn't exactly take the world by storm. The size, hands, and receiving ability are there to be a dangerous all-around player as the No. 2 tight end. He needs to be a factor.
Strength: Size. The Hawkeyes have a slew of NBA two guards at receiver with the 6-4, McNutt and the 6-3 Davis leading the way. If you're not at least 6-3 and around 200 pounds, you have to be special to be a part of the Iowa passing game.
Weakness: No. 2 wide receiver. McNutt is a sure-thing star at the one, and Davis has shown the potential, but that's about it when it comes to proven production with Shumpert and Martin-Manley promising, but still improving.
Outlook: Last year's receiving corps was one of the best Iowa has had for a while, but including running backs and tight ends, four of the top five receivers are gone. McNutt needs help around him, and while the production will be fine, it'll be a bit of a shocker if the receivers are a major plus. There are too many unproven parts to get too excited.
Unit Rating: 7
State of the Unit: As always, the Iowa offensive line was good, but it wasn't special. This year it could be terrific with enough starters returning to be very cohesive and even more consistent. The pass protection was solid allowing 20 sacks and was decent for the ground game, but the production wasn't there on a consistent basis. Expect that to change and consider it a shock if this isn't the best part of the offense by far.
The star of the veteran line will once again be Riley Reiff, who'll have the spotlight on him all year from the NFL types. The left tackle isn't massive, but he's 6-6 and 300 pounds with a good frame and great feet. After earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors, the 21-game starter should be in the mix for All-America honors. Assuming the junior is gone early to the NFL, then 6-6, 285-pound junior Matt Tobin has to be ready as the understudy. The walk-on has seen a little bit of time, and while he's not a special player he'll get more chances to show what he can do.
Reiff is a sure-thing star, and now center James Ferentz should earn all-star honors with experience, talent, and the ability to be a great leader for the veteran front. At 6-2 and 275 pounds he's too small to get a long look by the NFL types in the first four rounds, but the junior will be drafted in a few years and he'll be great for the right zone-blocking system. For now, the coach's son will be an All-Big Ten performer, while 6-5, 285-pound sophomore Conor Boffeli brings more size to the equation.
6-5, 295-pound senior Markus Zusevics can play either tackle spot, but he's far better on the right size where he started every game and grew into the job. He's not going to maul anyone and he's not an elite athlete for the line, but he became a decent pass protector and has shown enough to be one of the team's steadier blockers. He'll be backed up by 6-7, 290-pound sophomore Brett Van Sloten, an academic all-star who got a little work in blowouts. A starter next year, he's athletic, big, and has all the potential to be another Iowa stud lineman.
Senior Adam Gettis could be one of the team's most talented linemen and has dominated in practices over the years, but the 6-4, 280-pound left guard can't stay healthy. He has starting experience and he knows what he's doing with great hitting ability for his size, he has to prove he can stay on the field. His injury history means that 6-5, 295-pound senior Woody Orne, the former South Dakota State blocker who has the ability and talent to become a part of the mix. He saw a little bit of time and he can work in a variety of spots. With tackle size, Iowa state champion-level high jumping athleticism, and guard run blocking ability, he'll be moved around where needed.
Sophomore Nolan MacMillan earned CFN Freshman All-America honors returning from injury to be a part of the line rotation. He wasn't able to stay healthy all season long, but he was great when he got his chances and now needs to show he can hang in and shine for a full season at right guard. At 6-6 and 288 pounds he's not built like a burying type of blocker, but he can hit. If MacMillian can't get past his shoulder problems, 6-5, 310-pound redshirt freshman Brandon Scherff needs to be ready. While he might need time and he might need polish, he's one of the line's biggest players and has looked the part in practices so far.
Watch Out For … Gettis. The coaching staff and Ferentz have gone out of their way to say how good Gettis is, but injuries have been an issue. If he's right and he can stay on the field for a full-season, he'll be a lock for all-star honors.
Strength: The core. Reiff is a sure-thing star to work around and will be a multi-millionaire whenever he's ready to jump to the next level, and Ferentz is a rising star who'll be a First Team All-Big Ten performer. There are great pieces in place.
Weakness: Backups. There's almost no developed depth whatsoever, and while Iowa has no problem in filling in the gaps in a big hurry if problems strike, and problems will strike with several injury concerns, there will be major, MAJOR worries if Reiff or Ferentz are out for an appreciable length of time.
Outlook: The line was a big question mark going into last year and now it will be tremendous if everyone can stay healthy. When the Hawkeyes roll out a starting five of Reiff, Gettis, Ferentz, MacMillan and Zusevics, look out. However, the coaches have to prepare for life with Gettis and/or MacMillan on the sidelines for at least a few games hurt.
Unit Rating: 8
Iowa Preview |
2011 Iowa Defense |
Iowa Depth Chart
- Iowa Previews 2010