2007 Iowa Preview

Posted Jun 22, 2007

After a down year, Iowa should be back among the top contenders for the Big Ten title. It helps to have most of the defensive front seven back, led by Ken Iwebema, but it helps even more to miss Michigan and Ohio State.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Iowa Offense Preview
  | 2007 Iowa Defense Preview
2007 Iowa Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Iowa Preview 

This might be the most critical year for Iowa football in a long, long time.   

Head coach Kirk Ferentz has made Iowa a regular in the big bowls, but the program hasn’t quite turned the corner many expected it would a few years ago when it was in the yearly BCS discussion. Last year was supposed to be the season the ceiling was blasted through, but it didn’t happen. Now, veteran QB Drew Tate is gone, the schedule is a bit more difficult (even without Michigan or Ohio State), and Iowa appears to be more Wisconsin than Ohio State: a yearly top-five Big Ten team, but not a perennial superstar.

Head coach: Kirk Ferentz
9th year: 55-43
12th year overall: 67-64
Returning Lettermen: 375
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Iowa Players
1. DE Ken Iwebema, Sr.
2. LB Mike Klinkenborg, Sr.
3. RB Albert Young, Sr.
4. DE Bryan Mattison, Sr.
5. WR Dominique Douglas, Soph.
6. C Rafael Eubanks, Soph.
7. OT Dace Richardson, Jr.
8. WR Andy Brodell, Jr.
9. DT Matt Kroul, Jr.
10. CB Adam Shada, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Sept. 1

No Illinois (in Chic.)

Sept. 8


Sept. 15

at Iowa State

Sept. 22

at Wisconsin

Sept. 29


Oct. 6

at Penn State

Oct. 13


Oct. 20

at Purdue

Oct. 27

Michigan State

Nov. 3

at Northwestern

Nov. 10


Nov. 17

Western Michigan

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Montana  W 41-7
9/9 at Syrac. W 20-13 2OT
9/16 Iowa State W 27-17
9/23 at Illinois W 24-7
9/30 Ohio State L 38-17
10/7 Purdue W 47-17
10/14 at Indiana L 31-28
10/21 at Michigan L 20-6
10/28 Northern Illinois W 24-14
11/4 Northwestern L 21-7
11/11 Wisconsin L 24-21
11/18 at Minnesota L 34-24
12/30 Alamo Bowl
Texas L 26-24

In his ninth year in Iowa City, Ferentz has been good enough to be mentioned for just about every NFL job opening, but isn’t hot enough anymore to be on anyone’s short list. If he really does have designs on the next level, his window is closing quickly, meaning he might be more interested in exploring his options next season. Then again, he was supposed to be off somewhere else a few years ago, yet he’s still around, and he’s still among the best.

Even without Tate, Ferentz has a team that could be the year’s big surprise. All the top receivers are back, along with RB Albert Young, while the defense should be sensational, with eight starters returning and a slew of experienced backups to fill in. Iowa now reloads and replaces; it doesn’t rebuild.

So was last year’s 6-7 record, with the season-ending collapse (losing the final four games), an indicator of the direction of the program, or was it an aberration? We’ll know after this year. Iowa lost to the elite (Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas), the lousy (Northwestern), and the in-between (Minnesota). Now it has to reclaim its reputation and get back to being the hot program it’s supposed to be.

What to watch for on offense: More balance. The offense became a bit too reliant on the mood and play of Tate, and now with Jake Christensen under center, it’ll rely more on Young running the ball. Even so, don’t assume this will be a conservative attack, as big plays will be available downfield to wide receivers Dominique Douglas and Andy Brodell. 

What to watch for on defense: Don’t expect anything too cute. Last season, Iowa’s defense didn’t get nearly enough pressure or enough key stops, but that should change with the return of DE Ken Iwebema and top LB Mike Klinkenborg, who were injured. There won’t be any funky blitzes, and there’ll be plenty of bending but not breaking, but the overall result should be better.

The team will be far better if … it doesn’t give the ball away. The Hawkeyes were 111th in the nation in turnover margin, and mistakes were the difference between a good season and a great one. Iowa should’ve blown out Syracuse and should’ve beaten Indiana, but it couldn’t hang on to the ball. Part of the problem was Tate trying to make too many things happen, and part of the issue was the lack of takeaways to turn the momentum around in tight games.   

The Schedule: It’s sneaky-tough early, but the Hawkeyes have no beef, considering there’s no Ohio State or Michigan to deal with. Three of the first four games (Northern Illinois, Iowa State and Wisconsin) are away from Iowa City, and an early road trip to Penn State could create a big hole in conference play. The back half is as easy as can reasonably be expected, getting Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota and Western Michigan at home and going on the road to Purdue and Northwestern.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Albert Young.  When he’s healthy, not a given in his up-and-down Hawkeye career, Young is one of the Big Ten’s most versatile and dynamic backs.  With Tate gone, Iowa will lean heavily on its elusive senior, who led the conference in rushing two seasons ago and will be a reliable target for young Jake Christensen. If around for a full 12 games, he could hit 1,500 yards; he’s that good.     

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Mike Klinkenborg.  He was a rock in the middle of the defense, leading the unit with 129 stops, despite missing Iowa’s bowl game.  While not athletic in the Abdul Hodge or Chad Greenway mold, Klinkenborg has the necessary instincts and toughness to constantly be around the ball carrier. 

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Jake Christensen. While he’s not all that big, can’t move and has little experience, he’ll be the difference between a possible top-three Big Ten finish and also-ran status. If he can’t get the job done, or worse yet, gets hurt, it’ll be up to freshmen Richard Stanzi and Arvell Nelson to fight it out for the job. That would be a big, big problem early on.

The season will be a success if ... the Hawkeyes win ten games. A nine-win regular season and a bowl victory would get the program back on track after the disappointment of 2006, and it can dream of really big things, like the Rose Bowl, if it can split road dates at Wisconsin and Penn State. While Iowa isn’t going to be the best team in the Big Ten, not having to play Michigan or Ohio State (you’re going to hear this all year long) is a break that has to be taken advantage of.

Key game: Sept. 23 at Wisconsin. Assuming the Hawkeyes can avoid slipping in the yearly nightmare that’s the Iowa State battle, a win over the Badgers could possibly make it a one-game season. Outside of the date at Penn State, Iowa should be favored against everyone on the slate after going to Madison, where it’s won two straight.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Punt return average: Iowa 10.1; Opponents 3.3
- Fumbles: Iowa 21 (lost 12); Opponents 17 (lost 6)
- Penalties: Iowa 65 for 581 yards; Opponents 65 for 575 yards


Related Stories
2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 21, 2007
2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 21, 2007
2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 21, 2007

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