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2009 Iowa Preview - Offense
Iowa RB Jewel Hampton
Iowa RB Jewel Hampton
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 13, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Iowa Hawkeye Offense

Iowa Hawkeyes

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Iowa Preview | 2009 Iowa Offense
- 2009 Iowa Defense | 2009 Iowa Depth Chart
- 2008 Iowa Preview | 2007 Iowa Preview | 2006 Iowa Preview  


What you need to know:
Lost in the production and the good things that happened last season was that the star of the show, RB Shonn Greene, wasn't even expected to be a sure-thing starter until just before the start of the season, and no one had a clue he'd be a Doak Walker winner. Now that he's gone, the pressure falls on the veteran line to pave the way for quick back Jewel Hampton and to keep QB Ricky Stanzi upright. The receiving corps should be strong with former QB Marvin McNutt becoming a playmaker this spring, and the tight end combination of Tony Moeaki and Allen Reisner will be strong. But it'll all come down to the line that returns four starters and plenty of good reserves, but health has been an issue over the past few seasons and there's a ton of injury concerns on the inside. Fortunately, the Hawkeyes have an NFL pair of tackles in Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ricki Stanzi
150-254, 1,956 yds, 14 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Jewel Hampton
91 carries, 463 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos
44 catches, 639 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior OT Bryan Bulaga
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore RB Jewel Hampton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Marvin McNutt
Best pro prospect: Bulaga
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bulaga, 2) OT Kyle Calloway, 3) Hampton
Strength of the offense: Line, Overall Experience
Weakness of the offense: Line Health, No Shonn Greene

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
There was an early battle for the starting quarterback job, and then Ricky Stanzi took over. The inconsistency of Jake Christensen was part of the reason if became Stanzi's full-time gig, but it also became a matter of production. The 6-4, 218-pound junior completed 8-of-10 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns in an early win over FIU, and then he handed off to Shonn Greene for the rest of the year. No, the offense wasn't all Greene, and Stanzi did a nice job when everyone focused on the running game, but now he'll have to do more. He completed 59% of his throws for 1,956 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and he was tremendously efficient. Now he's the leader of the attack.

Projected Top Reserves: Stanzi is the unquestioned full-time No. 1 quarterback, but there's a good buzz around James Vandenberg, a 6-3, 195-pound redshirt freshman who was the 2007 Iowa High School Player of the Year and set several state records throwing for 7,709 yards and 93 touchdown passes. He's smart, has a live arm, and has big-time upside.

6-5, 220-pound redshirt freshman John Wienke isn't quite the prospect that Vandenberg is, but he's being given every shot to win the No. 2 job. The lefty threw for 6,070 yards and 68 touchdowns in high school and was also a key defender making 113 tackles and six sacks. If that wasn't enough, he was an Illinois all-state punter.

Watch Out For ... Stanzi to be better. He didn't have to carry the offense last year with the running game handling the work, but he was a difference maker when he was on. When he was off, like he was against Illinois, his mistakes were part of the difference in the loss. He should be more consistent if this spring was any indication.
Strength: The backups. It's an excellent situation with Stanzi the starter for the next two years, allowing Vandenberg and Wienke time to develop. The backups are as talented as any quarterback prospects that Iowa has had in a long, long time.
Weakness: Backup experience. This was supposed to be an issue going into last year, and then Stanzi stepped up and was solid. If Stanzi goes down there are great prospects waiting in the wings, but they'll be very, very green. The more mop-up work they can get, the better. In a desperate pitch, QB-turned-WR Marvin McNutt could step in.
Outlook: Ricky Stanzi turned out to be a good, efficient passer who showed he could get through the rough spots and come through when absolutely needed (Penn State). Now he'll be more consistent, more of a playmaker, and more of a bomber with experience and the success of last year to build on. James Vandenberg and John Wienke are more talented than Stanzi, but they'll have to wait two years before they can battle for the starting gig.
Rating: 7


Running Backs

Projected Starters
:
All those who saw that coming raise your hand. Everyone knew Shonn Greene had talent, but no one had a clue that he had the potential to be a Doak Walker winner who could tear off 1,850 yards, 20 touchdowns, and run for 100 yards in every game. That included the Iowa coaches. Was he that good or was it the line that paved the way? Both, and now it's up to Jewel Hampton to keep the production rolling. The 5-9, 210-pound sophomore isn't the power back that Greene was, but he has more speed and the quickness to be ultra-productive once he's healthy. And that could be the problem. Greene ran the ball 307 times, and Hampton doesn't have the make-up to handle that much work. Already hurt, he missed time this spring with a hamstring injury, he has to prove he can hold up. He was great when he got his chance as a true freshman rushing for 463 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and highlighted by a 114-yard, three touchdown day against Indiana, and he also averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return.

Back at fullback is junior Brett Morse, a 6-3, 238-pound blaster of a blocker who has also been fantastic on special teams. While he's a good short-yardage prospect, he wasn't needed with Greene handling all the tough work. In fact, he didn't get a carry and caught five passes for 40 yards. The former high school quarterback struggled with an ankle problem over the second half of last season, but he's back and healthy.

Projected Top Reserves: Before there was a Shonne Greene the talk of the 2008 offseason was Paki O'Meara, a star of last year's spring showing toughness, power, and breakaway speed. The junior walk-on only got 21 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns, but now he'll play a bigger role trying to add more power than Jewel Hampton with 5-11, 211-pound size.

5-11, 215-pound Jeff Brinson was a nice get for the program last year. The redshirt freshman from Florida has a nice blend of power and speed, and he has the smarts to pick up blocking schemes right away. However, he was hurt this spring and missed too much time to challenge for the starting spot.

While Brett Morse is the team's top fullback, sophomore Wade Leppert isn't far behind. The 6-0, 245-pounder didn't get a carry last season, but he stepped in and was fantastic for the running game late in the year when Morse went down and finished with five catches for 22 yards. With more size than Morse, and with big-time upside, he'll be No. 1A on the depth chart.

Watch Out For ... Hampton to be good. Really good. He's not going to run for over 1,800 yards and win the Doak Walker Award, but he'll be a lock for 1,000 yards if he can stay healthy.
Strength: The offensive line. With four starters back on the line that blasted away for Greene, and with both fullbacks returning along with a decent starting quarterback, there won't be a lot of pressure on the backs early on. Even so, whoever gets to carry the ball should produce big-time.
Weakness: Backups. This was supposed to be a problem last year, when Greene wasn't even on the fall depth chart, so the lack of backup experience needs to be taken with a grain of salt. O'Meara will get more work and Brinson, when healthy, should be fine, but they're unproven.
Outlook: It's asking a lot to just pick up where Shonn Greene left off, and there isn't a back on the roster who can be the same workhorse. However, Jewel Hampton is a terrific prospect who should blow up if he can stay healthy. Paki O'Meara will be serviceable for stretches and Jeff Brinson should be good when healthy, but if Hampton isn't great, the ground game will be inconsistent. The fullbacks might be the best in the Big Ten.
Rating: 7

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
The team needs reliable receivers to count on, and shockingly, one of them came out of the backfield. 6-4, 215-pound sophomore Marvin McNutt struggled whenever he was under center, completing one-of-three passes for ten yards with an interception, but he has looked like a whale of a target at split end this spring showing off speed, hands, and toughness to become a matchup nightmare. While he's still going to need a bit of time and work, he's going to be a dangerous go-to target as the season goes on.

Senior Trey Stross is one of the team's best athletes, serving as a high jumper for the Iowa track team, but he has had a problems staying healthy. Even so, he's on the verge of playing a much bigger role after catching 13 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown last season with 6-4, 200-pound size, deep speed, and the leaping ability to do far more around the goal line.

Tony Moeaki was a phenomenal tight end talent who was never quite healthy enough to live up to his potential. At 6-4 and 250 pounds with fantastic speed and great blocking skills, he can do it all, but now he has to do more than catch just 13 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. A wrist injury was an issue in the past, but he's fine now and he should add big numbers to his résumé after catching 46 career passes for 566 yards and seven scores. 

Projected Top Reserves: Will Derrell Johnson-Koulianos ever get in the good graces of the coaching staff? The team's leading receiver last year caught 44 passes for 639 yards and three touchdowns, but he became too enamored with making the deep play, averaging 14.5 yards per catch, and wasn't quite consistent enough with the routine. DJK has 6-1, 215-pound size, tremendous deep speed, and next-level skills. Not only did he come up with a few huge games, catching seven passes for 181 yards and a score against Minnesota, but he also saw time as a dangerous kickoff returner.

Even if Tony Moeaki is the team's No. 1 tight end, Allen Reisner won't be far behind. The 6-3, 235-pound junior caught 11 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, averaging 18.2 yards per catch, but most of his work came in the first three games of the year. While he's not huge, he's a strong blocker who'll see plenty of time in two tight end sets.

Junior Colin Sandeman saw time as a punt returner, averaging just six yards per try, and he caught six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Now the 6-1, 200-pound veteran will work at split end behind Marvin McNutt and should stretch the field with his great athleticism. He's smart enough to be a reliable route runner.

While 5-9, 167-pound junior Paul Chaney isn't all that big, he's tremendously quick with good upside as a possible No. 3 option in certain situations. He only caught two passes for 19 yards in five games, but he'll see more work in the rotation behind Trey Stross.

Watch Out For ... McNutt. Losing Andy Brodell isn't a plus, but the receiving corps might have gotten stronger with the emergence of McNutt. He's not going to be a finished product right away, but he has the size and the talent to become a major star before he's done.
Strength: Size. Everyone can run and there's talent across the board, including tight end, but the sheer size of this group is one of the major plusses. Throw in the next-level leaping ability of Stross, and the corps plays even bigger than its height.
Weakness
:
A sure-thing when the lights are on. McNutt is still unproven as a target in game action, Johnson-Koulianos might have a hard time making grabs from the doghouse, and Moeaki hasn't been able to stay healthy. If everyone is on the field and everyone is playing well, the corps will be unstoppable at times. That's a big if.
Outlook: It's an interesting group that could be one of the team's major positives if all the breaks go the right way. The play of Marvin McNutt this spring opened up everyone's eyes, while there's the potential for this to be a devastating unit if Trey Stross turns into a consistent producer, if Derrell Johnson-Koulianos can be back in everyone's good graces and can make more midrange grabs, and if tight end Tony Moeaki can stay in one piece. The raw talent is there, and now it needs to come together to form a combination of a consistent and a home-run hitting set of targets.
Rating: 7

Offensive Line

Projected Starters
:
6-6, 315-pound junior Bryan Bulaga came into last season as a possible starting guard with enough versatility to move outside. He ended the year as a rock of a starting left tackle who has started 18 games up front and who's now being mentioned among the top NFL offensive lineman prospects. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after dominating for the Iowa running game. While he still needs a little work and polish as a pass blocker, with his size and athleticism he'll be under the scouting microscope all year and will be the anchor for the line.

On the other side is Kyle Calloway, a 6-7, 315-pound senior who has started 26 straight games and is coming off a second-team All-Big Ten season. Capable of working on either side, he's now a fixture at right tackle where he has good athleticism to go along with his size. More consistency as a pass protector would be nice, but he's talented, durable, and will be a rock of an all-star for the good front five.

The only big loss is at guard where Seth Olsen is gone, but there might actually be an upgrade with the return of Dace Richardson, a one-time superstar tackle prospect who had a great NFL future ahead of him. A horrendous knee injury in 2006 turned into more problems in 2007 with the thought that his career might be over. After more surgery, and after missing all of last year, his completely reconstructed knee, and not just the ligaments, held up in spring ball. Now, he's not just being considered for playing time, he'll be the starting left guard. While there's no way he can be the player he was before the injury, if he's close, the Hawkeyes got a gift.

The leader of the line and one of the leaders of the team is Rafael Eubanks, a 6-3, 280-pound all-star who overcame a knee problem that limited him in 2007 to regain his form last year at guard. While he's tough, he had issues with a leg injury. The senior, who has 25 games of starting experience, also saw time at center, where he's a more natural fit, and he should be a tough all-around blocker again in the middle if he can stay healthy.

6-3, 300-pound junior Julian Vandervelde is a very smart, very tough interior blocker who blasts away for the running game and is now a fixture for the line. He started the final nine games of last year and got better and better by the week. While he's not going to be in the spotlight on a great line, he'll be in the mix for all-star honors at either right guard or center.

Projected Top Reserves: Considering Dace Richardson is hardly a sure thing with his repaired knee, senior Andy Kuempel has to be ready. A tackle by trade, considered a main option for the left side coming into last year, he ended up as a key reserve at guard and got the start in a few games late in the year before getting knocked out for the year against Illinois with a shoulder problem. He's versatile enough to play either tackle spot if needed.

6-6, 300-pound senior Dan Doering was the 2004 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, and while he hasn't lived up to his prep hype, he has been a good blocker on the inside when healthy. He'll have to fight for time at left guard with a logjam of talent, but he's versatile enough to play either guard spot.

About to become a major factor is Adam Gettis, a 6-4, 280-pound sophomore guard who was fantastic this spring and could end up seeing time on either side. Listed as a co-No. 2 at right guard, he has seen a little bit of time and is athletic enough to be groomed for a 2010 starting spot. The sky's the limit.

Watch Out For ... Gettis. There's a free-for-all for spots in the interior and while Vandervelde is a lock for one guard spot, it'll be a good battle for the other position and center. Gettis might not win a starting job, but he's on the radar for the near future as a key blocker somewhere along the front.
Strength: Talent and experience. There's depth, veterans, and options to play around with, This was one of the nation's dominant run blocking units last year, and now it should be even better with two NFL bookends and several good veterans for the inside.
Weakness
:
Pass protection and health. After allowing 35 sacks in 2007, the improved line gave up 27. That's not good, but it's better. The big key is health with everyone on the inside having one problem or another. It'll be hard to put together a consistent lineup.
Outlook: After a disastrous 2007 when no one could stay healthy, last year's line came together and was a dominant force by the end of the season. Now it'll be among the best lines in America if, and it's a huge, screaming if, injuries aren't an issue. Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway aren't the problems at tackle, but from Dace Richardson's knee, to the shoulder of Andy Kuempel, to the leg problems of Rafael Eubanks, the Iowa line has several players who likely won't play an entire season. Better pass protection is a must, but the running game will thrive under this group.
Rating:
9