2014 Iowa Preview: What You Need To Know
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Posted Jul 23, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Iowa (Getty Images)

2014 Iowa Preview

What You Need To Know

- 2014 Iowa Preview  
What You Need To Know About The Offense: It worked a lot better last year after struggling in 2012, and now it should be far more efficient and even more dangerous after finishing 84th in the nation. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has a good group to work with led by Jake Rudock at quarterback for his second straight season. Big, smart, and with the arm to get the ball down the field without a problem, he knows what he’s doing now, and it should show with more big plays. The receiving corps will help out with Kevonte Martin-Manley leading one of the deepest corps Iowa has had in a while – a massive weakness two years ago now becomes a strength. The running game should work with bruiser Mark Weisman operating behind a talented line. Brandon Scherff should be some NFL team’s left tackle right now instead of a Hawkeye, and the rest of the front five is strong.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: Can the Hawkeyes find any linebackers? Gone are James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey from one of the nation’s best corps, but the rest of the defense should be terrific after finishing sixth in the nation and 19th against the run. The veteran tackle tandem of Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat will be among the best in the Big Ten, but the pass rush has to start coming from the outside. The secondary welcomes back rising star corner Desmond King and big-hitting safety John Lowdermilk, but the season comes down to the linebackers. Quinton Allen in the middle and Reggie Spearman and Travis Perry on the outside are ready, but it’s asking a lot for those three to be close to the trio they’re replacing.

Players You Need To Know
1. OT Brandon Scherff, Sr.
One of the nation’s top blockers and a great pro prospect who could start in the NFL right now, the 6-5, 315-pound All-American came back from a leg injury suffered two years ago to be a dominant pass protector. Very physical and great on the move for his size, he has the feet to become a franchise left tackle, but he might start out on the right side once he makes the jump. Always working and always finishing his blocks, he’s a leader with the right mentality for the job, and he’s getting better. He’s the one the offense will operate around on key downs, and now the spotlight is on – a great season could making him a sure-thing top 20 pick.

2. DT Carl Davis, Sr.
The hope was for Davis to grow into an anchor up front, and he did just that making 42 tackles with 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. At 6-5 and 315 pounds he’s a big body on the inside who can move, earning All-Big Ten honors as the interior presence the elite run defense needed. He might not get behind the line like Louis Trinca-Pasat, but he takes up more space.

3. DT Louis Trinca-Pasat, Sr.
One of the Big Ten’s better all-around defensive tackles, the 6-3, 290-pounder came up with 38 tackles with a sack and eight tackles for loss as a great running mate to Carl Davis on the inside. The big question was whether or not he could get past a shoulder problem, and he did. Great in the classroom as well as on the field, he can occupy the double teams and can get into the backfield equally well, and now in his last year, he should be a threat to put up huge numbers with all the attention paid to Davis.

4. QB Jake Rudock, Jr.
Rudock took over for James Vandenberg and started to push the ball down the field a little bit more, and now he has the upside and the experience to come up with two big seasons as the leader of the offense. Sharp this offseason, he moved the ball around well in spring practices and showed he has the attack down. With one of Iowa’s strongest receiving corps in the last few years to work with, and a good line up front and a solid running game to take the heat off, everything is there to come up with a much bigger statistical season. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, the Miami native has good size, a great résumé, and the smarts to grow into the job even more. There’s no question that he’s the No. 1 quarterback, and now he’s about to show it after completing 59% of his passes for 2,383 yards and 18 touchdowns with 13 picks. Mobile, he was fourth on the team with 218 yards and five scores, but he’ll only take off when need be. His job will be to get the ball out of his hands to his receivers as soon as possible.

5. CB Desmond King, Jr.
The Hawkeyes appeared to be set last season in the secondary with a veteran group and a few nice speedsters in the mix. While there are still blazers like Sean Draper and Maurice Fleming around to work at one corner, the other side is all set with King back after a whale of a true freshman campaign. A big-time high school star in Michigan, he came up with 29 picks on defense and was a terror on the offensive side as a runner and receiver, but he instantly became a key part of the secondary at corner making 69 tackles with eight broken up passes. At 5-11 and 190 pounds, he has decent size and he’s always around the ball. Now he’s the team’s No. 1 corner and should be an all-star for the next few seasons.

6. WR Kevonte Martin-Manley, Sr.
An interesting all-around player, the 6-0, 205-pounder has good size and knows how to make himself open as a midrange target who runs great routes, but he’s also a devastating punt returner. Why doesn’t the speed and quickness translate into more big plays as a receiver? As is, he’s more than fine, leading the team with 40 catches for 388 yards and five scores. Steadier than spectacular, he didn’t have any blow-up games, but he did the job as Jake Rudock’s top target. As a punt returner, he dominated averaging 15.7 yards try, highlighted by his two scores against Western Michigan, coming up with 184 yards on just four returns.

7. C Austin Blythe, Jr.
After stepping into the job after the graduation of James Ferentz, now this is his position after hitting the weights hard, getting up to 300 pounds on his 6-3 frame, and looking like an all-star after earning honorable mention honors. At 275-pound guard as a freshman, he’s a good leader for a strong line - he didn’t have any problems at the bigger weight and showed he could be physical while also holding his own in pass protection.

8. RB Mark Weisman, Sr.
There’s nothing fancy about his game, but the 6-0, 236-pound thumper has been a dependable runner for a team that’s had lots and lots of problems coming up with healthy and steady rushing production. He rose up from out of nowhere to take over two years ago as a pure power runner between the tackles, but he takes a pounding. Last year he led the team with 974 yards and eight touchdowns averaging 4.3 yards per try, starting out the season with three straight 100-yard games and four in the first five. But he slowed down a bit, carrying the ball 119 times in those five outings and just 107 times the rest of the way with no 100-yard days in Big Ten play after hitting Minnesota for 147 in the conference opener. Not much of a receiver, and not a breakaway threat, he’s a tone-setter, but the more help he can get from Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock, the better.

9. OG Jordan Walsh, Jr.
After getting a start in 2012 and mostly serving as a reserve, he grabbed the job last offseason and never let it go, starting every game at right guard. Banged up a bit late in the year, he got back onto the field and was one of the team’s steadiest blockers. A nice recruit for the program out of Chicago, he has just enough athleticism to possibly move to right tackle if needed, but the 6-4, 290-pounder is a mainstay at guard where he’ll likely work for the next two years and grow into more of a dominant run blocker.

10. S John Lowdermilk, Sr.
It looked like he was going to spend last season as a top reserve or a part of a rotation, but instead he became one of the team’s leading tacklers with 78 stops with a pick and 4.5 tackles for loss. The 6-2, 207-pound strong safety came up with a huge 71-yard interception return in the bowl game against LSU, but his real worth is as a run stopper coming up with 11 tackles against Wisconsin. Able to play either safety spot or in nickel or dime packages, he knows what he’s doing. The top non-linebacker tackler last season, he should once again put up big numbers.

- 2014 Iowa Preview