2009 CFN Iowa Preview
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
Posted May 13, 2009

Iowa and QB Ricky Stanzi turned out to be one of the biggest surprises in the 2008 season. Star RB Shonn Greene might be gone, but the tremendous defense is loaded, the O line might be among the best in the nation, and shhhhhhhhh, this might be the deep sleeper in the championship chase. Check out the CFN 2009 Iowa Preview.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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

Interested in blogging about Iowa football?  Let us know

Head coach: Kirk Ferentz
11h year: 70-53
14h year overall: 82-74
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def, 23, DT 4
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Iowa Players
1. OT Bryan Bulaga, Jr.
2. LB Pat Angerer, Sr.
3. OT Kyle Calloway, Sr.
4. LB Jeremiha Hunter, Jr.
5. CB Amari Spievey, Jr.
6. WR Derrell Johnson-
Koulianos, Sr.
7. SS Tyler Sash, Soph.
8. P Ryan Donohue, Jr.
9. FS Brett Greenwood, Jr.
10. TE Tony Moeaki, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Northern Iowa
9/12 at Iowa State
9/19 Arizona
9/26 at Penn State
10/3 Arkansas State
10/10 Michigan
10/17 at Wisconsin
10/24 at Michigan State
10/31 Indiana
11/7 Northwestern
11/14 at Ohio State
11/21 Minnesota

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 9-4

8/30 Maine W 46-3
9/6 FIU W 42-0
9/13 Iowa State W 17-5
9/20 at Pitt L 21-20
9/27 Northwestern L 22-17
10/4 at Michigan St L 16-13
10/11 at Indiana W 45-9
10/18 Wisconsin W 38-16
11/1 at Illinois L 27-24
11/8 Penn State W 24-23
11/15 Purdue W 22-17
11/22 at Minnesota W 55-0
Outback Bowl
1/1 South Carolina W 31-10

Iowa was 3-3, struggled to beat a horrible Iowa State team, lost to Northwestern, and still had to deal with Wisconsin, Penn State and Illinois. After ten years and six games, the Kirk Ferentz era appeared to be coming in for a nice, soft landing, with the potential for a regime change for 2009 if there wasn't a big second half of the season.

Forgotten in the whale of a finishing kick, winning six of the final seven games including a dominating Outback Bowl blowout of South Carolina (even though Northwestern really should've gotten the New Year's Day honor) was how close the program came to collapsing under Ferentz.

The 2008 offseason was marred by arrests and off the field embarrassments galore, while the school didn't want another disaster so soon after the way the basketball program dealt with the Pierre Pierce saga. And then everything magically came together.

Thanks to the consistent 100-yard rushing days from RB Shonn Greene and the stellar play from the defense, Iowa football became a powerhouse again when no one was looking. There was the destruction of Wisconsin, the stunning win to ruin Penn State's national title dream, and the 55-0 win over Minnesota to close the Gophers' era in the Metrodome.

Not only did Iowa finish with a strong 9-4 record, but it came within 12 points of going unbeaten. The Hawkeyes went 2-4 in games decided by five points or fewer, and they certainly had their chances in all four of the defeats.

More experienced teams tend to win the close ones, and Iowa certainly has the veterans returning with a loaded offensive line that could be among the best in America if everyone stays healthy, a potentially dominant defensive back seven with six starters returning and a whale of a linebacking corps, and great special teams. The team has filled in the holes in the past, and it should be able to do it again this year.

Greene bolted early for the NFL, but Jewel Hampton is a nice fill-in who'll benefit from the great line to work behind. The receiving corps loses Andy Brodell, but got a shot in the arm this offseason with the emergence of former quarterback Marvin McNutt. Mitch King and Matt Kroul might have been the greatest tackle pair in Iowa history, but there's a good rotation of prospects waiting to step in and a great group of veterans on the outside and in the linebacking corps to help out the situation.

So now the program is hot again, and it'll have to prove it can shine when the expectations are back to being high. Yes, there was the win over Penn State, but there was also a struggle to put away Purdue. Yes, the final record was strong, but the Hawkeyes missed Ohio State. Yes, there is the potential for this to be a huge year, but it could all come crashing down if the walking wounded in the interior of the O line can't stay on the field, if the already banged up Hampton isn't a star, and if the defense really can't replace King and Kroul.

Call it a cautious optimism about this year's team. The Big Ten schedule is tougher with road trips against the four best non-Iowa teams in the conference (Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State), but after last year, when Greene came from out of nowhere and the defense was stunningly amazing, Iowa is used to coming up with a few surprises.

What to watch for on offense: The interior of the offensive line. Tackles Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Callaway will someday be earning NFL paychecks, and the interior of the line has the potential to be devastatingly good if everyone can stay healthy. Dace Richardson is coming off a knee injury that should've ended his career, and center Rafael Eubanks and key backup guard Andy Kuempel are keeping it together with duct tape and a lot of hope. There are good prospects looking for the chance to step in and produce, but the last thing the team needs with a new set of running backs looking to replace Greene is inconsistency up front. Injuries up front killed the offense in 2007, and if linemen start going down early, hope for a dream season could come unraveled right away.

What to watch for on defense: Karl Klug and Mike Daniels. If the two new starting tackles are merely adequate, the defense could be every bit as good as it was last season when it was 12th in the nation overall, fifth in scoring D, and ninth against the run. If they're great, the defense will be a brick wall. If they struggle and they're lack of bulk really is an issue, then giant-sized ends Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard might have to move inside and the coaching staff might have to do some tinkering it really doesn't want to.

The team will be far better if … there's at least some semblance of a pass rush. It's hard to knock anything about a defense that was as good as last year's was, considering it only gave up more than 20 points four times and never allowed more than 27, but it would be nice if there were more plays made in the backfield. The tackle-sized ends aren't built to get to the quarterback, and it showed with the team finishing dead last in the Big Ten in both sacks (19) and tackles for loss (a paltry 68).

The Schedule: While facing Arizona at home isn't going to be a walk in the park, the non-conference schedule is a joke unless Iowa State can play like it always does against the Hawkeyes. Northern Iowa and Arkansas State will be blowouts. Back-to-back October road games at Wisconsin and Michigan State will make or break the season, while a road trip to Penn State to start the Big Ten campaign could end title hopes before they begin. If those three conference road trips weren't bad enough, there's a mid-October date at Ohio State. When your toughest home game is likely going to be against Minnesota, the home slate isn't too bad. Missing Purdue is an awful stroke of bad luck, but not getting Illinois on the schedule could be a break.

Best Offensive Player: Junior OT Bryan Bulaga. While he had a few problems at times against the top pass rushers, he showed great athleticism and crushing run blocking ability as the new star of the Hawkeye line. While he's only a junior, the 6-6, 315-pounder is already on lists of possible first round selections for the 2010 NFL Draft if he chooses to come out early. Paired with Kyle Calloway on the other side, Iowa could have the Big Ten's best pair of tackles.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Pat Angerer. Shonn Greene's success was the shocker of the Big Ten season, while Angerer's year wasn't far behind. After doing absolutely nothing for two years, he not only led the team in tackles, but he tied for the team-lead in interceptions (5) on his way to second-team All-Big Ten honors. Now he's the leader and the anchor in the middle of a phenomenal linebacking corps that could have three all-stars.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Ricky Stanzi. There was a major quarterback battle in the beginning of last year, but Stanzi ended up taking over and turned out to be just good enough to not be a liability. This year, considering the defense will keep scores low, he'll have to be better at keeping the interceptions to a minimum, after throwing nine last year, and he has to do more to make the passing game shine considering there's no Greene to hand off to. He appeared to have a better command of the offense and his job this spring and he could start to be the reason the team wins instead of being along for the ride.

The season will be a success if ... the Hawkeyes finish second in the Big Ten. As good as Iowa is and with all the excitement, the conference road schedule is way too tough to get through unscathed and could be tough to get through 2-2. Getting to the BCS is an attainable dream by going 10-2 and coming up with a national attention-grabbing win at either Ohio State or at Penn State.

Key game: Sept. 26 at Penn State. You don't think the Nittany Lions will be looking for a little revenge after losing last year's heartbreaker in Iowa City? However, this will be the Big Ten opener and Penn State might not be quite ready with all the turnover on both sides of the ball. If Iowa comes into this game fully jelled, with the running game in place and with the defensive tackle situation settled, it could come away with a huge win while raising hopes for a Big Ten title campaign. .

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Iowa 91 - Opponents 27
- Rushing yards per game: Iowa 188.7 (30 TDs) - Opponents 94 (7 TDs)
- Interception return average: Iowa 19.1 yards on 23 picks - Opponents 2.1 yards on 11 picks

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