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2008 Iowa Preview - Offense
Iowa TE Tony Moeaki
Iowa TE Tony Moeaki
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 28, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Iowa Hawkeye Offense

Iowa Hawkeyes

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 CFN Iowa Preview | 2008 Iowa Offense
- 2008 Iowa Defense | 2008 Iowa Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Iowa Preview | 2006 CFN Iowa Preview 

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.

Returning Leaders
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 Nate Guillory
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 back

Quarterbacks

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 longer look.

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 circumstances.
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 running plays.
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.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

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 his career.

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 Greene.
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.
Rating: 6

Receivers

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 game.

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 blocker.

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 athlete.
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.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

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 shoulder problem.

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.
Rating:
6.5