It's about that time. For the next two months, BHGP will be previewing this year's Iowa Hawkeyes, position-by-position. Naturally, as the earth rotates around the sun, things will change. Therefore, we're starting with the position we are most certain of, and ending with running back the position of which we are least certain. To date:
Tonight: Tight End.
Iowa is deep at tight end. We mean deep. It's the silver lining that comes with losing your starting tight end for the season after 13 quarters of football. Plus, the starter is back, soon-to-be-graced with a medical redshirt, healthier, wealthier, and wiser. There might not be much to like about this offense, but tight end might be the exception that proves the rule.
Tony Moeaki (6'4", 255, Sr.(?)) - The Flyin' Hawaiian makes his triumphant return, and we couldn't be happier. He's big, athletic, has a Cris Carter-esque ability to just catch touchdowns, and was just coming into his own when his forearm was smashed into 17 pieces during the Wisconsin game. In the three games prior to his injury, Moeaki caught 14 passes for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the remaining nine games, his replacements combined for 19 catches and 226 yards.
The term "security blanket" gets used far too often to describe tight ends, but it might not be more appropriate than here. Andy Brodell, for all his speed, has always been a suspect pass-catcher. Trey Stross, who has better hands, can't seem to stay healthy. The remaining receivers are very young and, if the coaching staff is to be believed, are still learning how to run precise routes. A big target in the middle of the field who knows what he's doing and catches the ball might be just what the doctor ordered for a quarterback who too often looks rattled and confused when dropping back. If Ferentz is right and Jake Christensen is the new Matt Rodgers, then Tony Moeaki has to be his Michael Titley.
The Experienced Backup
Brandon Myers (6'4", 250, Sr.) - To say that Moeaki is essential is not meant to take away from the performance of Brandon Myers, who stepped in as the starter in Moeaki's absence and was serviceable, if unspectacular. Even though he was a junior, Myers had hardly played when the Rainbow Warrior went down injured, and his inexperience showed early on. Despite effectively becoming the starter 5 plays into the game, Myers did not have a reception against Wisconsin. Except for brief flashes against Indiana and Illinois (against whom Myers caught the biggest pass of the season), he was good for a catch a game. It's what you expect from a guy who entered the season as the second-string tight end; it's not nearly enough for an Iowa offense that has relied on the tight end as a premier pass-catcher since 2001.
This year, Myers will likely return to his original role, primarily acting as a blocker in short yardage and occasionally releasing for a catch or two. It's a role he's particularly prepared to play.
Should See the Field
Allen Reisner (6'3", 220, So.) - Reisner, a true freshman, was forced into action after Moeaki's injury. He even caught a couple of passes against Indiana and Illinois, before being relegated to the blocking-TE role for good. Given Moeaki's role and Myers' experience, he probably won't get much playing time this year. However, for a player who wasn't a starting tight end until his senior year of high school and learned the position in the cauldron of the Big Ten as a freshman, a year to slow down and watch his superiors might not be that bad.
Michael Sabers (6'5", 245, Sr.) - Someone has to play the fourth quarter against Maine.
Tyler Gerstandt (6'6", 245, Jr.) - Same goes for Florida International.