2008 Iowa Preview - Offense
Iowa TE Tony Moeaki
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Iowa Hawkeye Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
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What you need to know: Can a team be more snake-bit by
injuries? The Hawkeye attack went into the tank when the top
three targets, Andy Brodell, Trey Stross, and TE Tony Moeaki,
all got hurt early. Making matters worse were the maladies on
the line that killed the rushing production and almost got QB
Jake Christensen killed. On the plus side, just about everyone
is back and healthy with the exception of running back, where
it'll take JUCO transfers Nate Guillory and Shonn Greene to add
some life into the attack. If everyone's healthy, the Big Ten's
worst offense will come up with a night-and-day turnaround.
Passing: Jake Christensen
198-370, 2,269 yds, 17 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Ricky Stanzi
1 carry, 13 yds
Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos
38 catches, 482 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior WR Andy Brodell
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior RB
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Tony Moeaki
Best pro prospect: Moeaki
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brodell, 2) Moeaki, 3) C Rafael Eubanks
Strength of the offense: Line experience, receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Overall health, running
Projected Starter: Junior Jake Christensen was a top
recruit a few years ago and was expected to grow into the star
who would take Iowa to another level. Now he's fighting for his
job. All things considered, with injury issues to everyone else
on the offense, Christensen wasn't totally awful throwing for
2,269 yards and 17 touchdowns with six interceptions. While he
wasn't always sharp, he had no help whatsoever. Only 6-1 and 215
pounds, the left-hander has a great arm and decent mobility. Now
he has to be the one who makes everyone in the offense better no
matter who's catching the ball.
Projected Top Reserves: While it would take
something big to knock Christensen out of a starting spot,
sophomore Ricky Stanzi will give it a shot. The 6-4,
215-pound sophomore saw a little bit of work last year and
missed on all four of his passes, but he has good upside. With
his height and his live arm, he has just enough to warrant a
The most interesting option of the three, and the furthest
behind in the race for time, is 6-4, 195-pound redshirt freshman
Marvin McNutt, a tremendous scrambler and by far the best
athlete among the quarterbacks. The left-hander is listed as the
co-No. 2 along with Stanzi, but he's not close yet. He needs to
be much, much more consistent as a passer; he needs more time.
Watch Out For ... Christensen to finally shine
through. He might not be a special quarterback, but he has the
skills to be a very good one if the receiving corps provides a
little help and if the line gives him some time.
Strength: Making it through the rain. After all
the injury issues with the receiving corps, and all the
problems, this year might seem like a breeze for Christensen.
Again, he produced relatively decent numbers under horrible
Weakness: Backup experience. Stanzi is supposed to be right in
the thick of the quarterback race, but he hasn't done much of
anything when the lights have gone on. McNutt is strictly an
emergency option unless the coaching staff wants to use him on
Outlook: Things should be better only because the
rest of the offense should be better. Christensen is an emerging
passer who might finally get to show what he can do. He has the
experience, but he needs to win to make the team his, and to
make sure there's no question about who has the No. 1 job.
Stanzi needs more playing time, and McNutt could stand to see
some mop-up work.
Projected Starters: While listed as a backup on the depth chart,
5-10, 185-pound junior Nate Guillory will take over the
starting job sooner than later. He ran for 2,644 yards and 28
touchdowns for Coffeyville Community College last year, and he
showed that handling a workload isn't a problem with 325
carries. He's not a big back, but he's slippery and he's fast.
Getting the first look at fullback will be 6-3, 230-pound
sophomore Brett Morse, a special teamer so far who has
the ability to carry the ball on short-yardage plays and with
good enough quickness to be used as a receiver. The former high
school quarterback threw 18 touchdown passes and ran for 31 over
Projected Top Reserves: Is Paki O'Meara
really going to be a top running back option? The 5-11,
210-pound sophomore walk-on saw a few work on special teams and
wasn't even a blip on the running back radar until all the
personnel losses, and then he went out and came up with a great
spring showing toughness, power, and breakaway speed. He's as
unproven as they come, and he'll likely be the backup, but he's
the first on the depth chart with everyone looking to push him
out of a spot.
Returning to the team is Shonn Greene, a one-time Hawkeye
who left for junior college to get his grades in order. He got
work carrying the ball in 2006 before moving to defensive back,
and now, with 5-11, 227-pound size and tremendous speed, he
should become a major part of the offense.
Working at fullback will be 6-0, 230-pound senior Jordan
McLaughlin started out his career as a linebacker and then
moved over to fullback. He didn't get the ball, but he saw a
little bit of work as a blocker. Not the athlete that Morse is,
he'll have to become a big-time blocker to get on the field.
Watch Out For ... Guillory and Greene. O'Meara was a
nice story coming out of spring ball, and he'll be a fan
favorite, but the running game will work around Guillory and
Strength: Ready-made veterans. Going the JUCO
route doesn't always solve all the problems, but in this case,
it'll save the Hawkeye season. Guillory and Greene can each
carry the workload, while O'Meara will get every shot to show
that spring ball wasn't a fluke.
Weakness: Production. Albert Young and Damian Sims were good
backs who did next to nothing last season behind a patchwork
line. Now the backs are less talented and not proven. The
running game will rely on the unknown.
Outlook: Uh oh. Young and Sims are gone and Jevon
Pugh got homesick and left. If the line is good and the passing
game is the focus of the offense, Guillory and Greene should be
serviceable. O'Meara is the wild-card who could become a
breakout player for ten carries a game. The fullbacks are even
greener than the tailbacks.
Projected Starters: Senior Andy Brodell was on his
way to having a big season catching 13 passes for 96 yards in
the first few games, and then he suffered a torn hamstring and
was done. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, he has good size, decent speed
as a deep threat, and a whole bunch of upside. Now that he's
healthy, the offense has a real live weapon for the passing
Returning on the other side will be junior Trey Stross, a
6-3, 195-pound deep threat who caught 16 passes for 272 yards
and four touchdowns in eight games. A tremendous athlete who's
also a high jumper for the Hawkeye track team. Injured early on
last year, he's back healthy and should be a major playmaker.
The Hawkeyes are loaded at tight end led by senior Tony
Moeaki, a 6-4, 255-pound veteran who caught 14 passes for
170 yards and three touchdowns before going down for the year in
the fourth game of the season with a wrist injury. An excellent
blocker with good potential as a receiver if he can stay
healthy, he should be a favorite for the quarterbacks.
Projected Top Reserves: With the return of Stross,
Derrell Johnson-Koulianos will be pushed to a No. 3 role
after leading the team with 38 catches for 482 yards and two
touchdowns. The 6-1, 205-pounder has tremendous deep speed, even
if he didn't always show it off, and he'll be a good target and
an occasional starter.
Working behind Brodell will be 6-1, 195-pound sophomore Colin
Sandeman, a promising young player who caught four passes
for 55 yards as a true freshman. A smart receiver with good
athleticism, he'll be a starter in the near future.
While Moeaki is the rising star at tight end, senior Brandon
Myers isn't far behind after catching 21 passes for 208
yards and five touchdowns. He stepped in for Moeaki over the
final eight games of last year, and while he's not the same
dangerous receiver, at 6-4 and 250 pounds he's a strong, big
Watch Out For ... a night and day improvement. Having
a healthy Brodell, Stross and Moeaki will make all the
difference after getting hurt early on last season.
Strength: Speed. There's the potential to hit the
home run and to get deep from every spot, including tight end.
Brodell is a dangerous big-play threat, while Stross is an elite
Weakness: Healthy. Everyone will be healthy to start the season,
but after what happened last year, keeping everyone in one piece
will be a concern.
Outlook: There's good size, excellent speed, and a
lot to get excited about ... as long as everyone is on the
field. The corps was supposed to be a year away from doing some
big things, and that year is now with Brodell a possible
all-star, Stross the type of receiver who'll come up with at
least one really big game now and then, and Moeaki a potential
All-Big Ten star.
Projected Starters: Starting with one of the few players who
isn't hurt, 6-7, 317-pound junior Kyle Calloway will start at
right tackle again after working on both sides last year. One of the few
offensive players who made it through the year alive, he's a strong,
athletic blocker who was originally considered a guard. He needs to be
better in pass protection, but he's a decent veteran.
Next to Calloway at right guard will be Seth Olsen, a star of the
line earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. One of the line's
most versatile blockers, he can play anywhere up front with decent feet,
and a 6-5, 305-pound frame for the inside. Now he has to get over a
Working again at center will by Rafael Eubanks, once he gets past
a knee injury. The 6-3, 285-pound honorable mention All-Big Ten
performer will be back, but he has to get over his leg injury to once
again become one of the league's top centers. The junior a sound, tough
all-around blocker who is the leader up front.
The left tackle situation is a bit of a question mark. 6-7, 300-pound
junior Andy Kuempel has the job, but he could quickly give it up
depending on the health of some other key players. A tall, big pass
blocker who can play either tackle spot, and occasionally be moved to
left guard, he has to work to hold the job.
6-3, 300-pound sophomore Julian Vandervelde will battle for the
left guard job after starting for most of last year at right guard.
Banged up at times, he was able to step in when needed and now needs to
be more consistent, and healthy, to hold down the starting job.
Projected Top Reserves: The star of the line was
supposed to be Dace Richardson, a 6-6, 305-pound senior left
tackle who had an NFL future, but he suffered a knee injury and had more
problems with it this off-season. That means 6-6, 290-pound sophomore
Bryan Bulaga has to get over a shoulder injury and start after
getting the call over the last five games at guard. Better suited for
the outside, he needs to be better on passing downs.
6-7, 300-pound junior Dan Doering is a talented veteran who
missed time early last year before taking over the starting left guard
job. He was the 2004 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, and while he
hasn't been a disappointment, he hasn't come through and live up to his
prep hype, either.
Eubanks might be the quarterback up front, but he'll get competition
from 6-3, 287-pound senior Rob Bruggeman, if healthy. Bruggeman
can play either guard spot or center now that he's back from a knee
injury. The former walk-on is a good competitor, but he has to prove he
can stay healthy.
Watch Out For ... plenty of competition. There are
decent options to play around with at all five spots, and if the idea is
to get the best five players on the field at all times, there might be
work to do to create the right pecking order.
Strength: Experience. Thanks to all the injuries,
plenty of players have seen starting time and key practice reps to give
the coaches something to think about.
Weakness: Production. Injuries were a major problem, and while
the running game didn't go anywhere behind this group, the real problem
was pass protection allowing 35 sacks. There's potential, but there has
to be something the offense can count on.
Outlook: This was supposed to be a problem going
into last year, and it was, but for the wrong reasons. No one seemed
able to stay healthy and there wasn't any cohesion from one week to the
next. Now there's plenty of experience, lots of quality backups, and the
potential to make the biggest jump in production of any unit in the Big
Ten. Now the right starting five has to be put together, and that might
not happen until the opener.