STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 8: James Vandenberg #16 of the Iowa Hawkeyes hands the ball off to Marcus Coker #34 against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the game on October 8, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
SATURDAY, the Hawkeyes will open the gates at Kinnick for a sneak peak at the 2012 football team. The spring
game controlled scrimmage is set to begin at noon. If you're heading to Kinnick bring a canned good, doors open at 11am. If you want to stay home and watch the Big Ten Network will carry a live stream ($) and rebroadcast the footage at a date still to be decided. For an abbreviated version of the details read here.
KIRK FERENTZ AND JAMES VANDENBERG PARTICIPATED IN THE BIG TEN TELECONFERENCE. Ferentz discussed Iowa's spring thing and mentioned that this year is unique because the team will still have three practices following the scrimmage. It was more of the same from Ferentz, system changes, coaching changes, changes. He did mention that he would be open to scrimmaging other teams in the spring. That's interesting because Ferentz doesn't even want a spring game of any sorts for his own team.
Again, it was more of the same from Vandenberg. He talked about learning the new offense and about playing against Michigan State last year. There was a mention of an uptempo offense, the no-huddle. James said they were learning and hope to have everything down by next fall.
ABOUT THIS NO-HUDDLE BUSINESS. I think there's a thought that the term no-huddle simply means what we saw against Pittsburgh in a dire situation. Iowa ran about five plays from the shotgun that day. It was an extremely quick tempo. It was an improvisation for a panic situation, and it worked. Mostly because Pittsburgh didn't adjust and didn't believe a red shirt freshman wide receiver that hadn't done anything on film could beat their linebacker.
The no-huddling offense in football is becoming more of a norm. The pace doesn't have to be panic-mode and frantic. There's a check-with-me style of no-huddle that's more common place, particularly in the Big 12 where new offensive coordinator Greg Davis hails. It's not just college either, Brian Ferentz came to Iowa after learning under football guru Bill Belichick. The Patriots are a no-huddle, shotgun, create a mismatch style offense. They might be the best in the world at it too.
The tempo is something you can control. Short horizontal passes gas the defense. Long vertical routes after several lulling-to-sleep short passes scorch them for touchdowns. The quick game can be called from the line of scrimmage. A check from a pass to a run depending on the defensive personnel or alignment is a simple signal or call at the LOS. I expect to see a version of this Saturday.
THE TIGHT ENDS. Iowa's group of tight ends were milk carton kids for most of last season. Vandenberg said today "the tight end group as a whole has come a long ways." If you read the link above about Texas' quick game you'll see that the tight end will be a big part of the two-man passing game. Versatile tight ends like C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ray Hamilton will give Iowa the option to line them up on the line or split out. There's also Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger-Coble too. Those two, perhaps still on the slender side, give Iowa options in the slot.
Again, not to keep harping on it but Iowa has a guy now on staff that can help with their progress. Iowa doesn't have Ron Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez but they do have Brian Ferentz. He was with the Patriots when they decided to draft those two and build an offense that could defeat their foe, the NY Jets.
THE WIDE RECEIVER POSITION IS AN OPEN COMPETITION. Erik Campbell said,
"You never can relax here because there's always competition, even with having great tight ends. Everybody is competing to get the ball. The better you play, the more opportunities you going to have it versus giving it to another position or another player."
Kevonte Martin-Manley is a name that Campbell's mentioned this spring. He's battling Don Shumpert, Steven Staggs and Jacob Hillyer for the number two wide receiver spot. Keenan Davis is the assumed number one guy. Campbell said he doesn't have a depth chart and of Davis,
"We expect more out of him than we have in the past because now he is the most experienced guy. He's coming and practicing. at the same time, again, learning the new system, it slows you down a little bit."
IOWA LOSES SHAUN PRATER BUT B.J. LOWERY STEPS RIGHT IN. Lowery's name garnered a lot of buzz prior to the season last fall before he suffered a broklen wrist. Lowery now has a chance to show what he can do as Iowa's starting corner opposite of senior Micah Hyde. He told Hawkeye Sports, "I love tackling. Hard contact, everybody yelling. It feels good." Iowa's had a history of physical corners that eventually found a spot in the NFL. Amari Spievey and Charles Godfrey were two that come to mind. Both Spievey and Godfrey ended up at safety at the pro level.
REESE MORGAN HAS A LOT OF WORK TO DO. Brian Ferentz was asked about Reese Morgan's switch to defensive line coach, he said,
"I think it's important that you're able to relate to your players, and I'd start by saying that nobody was better at that than Reese Morgan, and that's why he's going to be so tremendous with the defensive line. I think, not to get off subject, but our defensive line needs encouragement and they need to be built up and I think there's nobody better for that than coach Morgan. I think he's going to do a great job with them."
The DLine will interesting to watch Saturday. There's Steve Bigach and a bunch of new faces. Ferentz and Morgan have said they'll rotate 6-8 guys up front. So, watch them all.
THE BTN HAS SUPER EARLY HOOPS PREDICTIONS. Things are becoming clearer for the future of Big Ten basketball now that stars like Trey Burke and Tyler Zeller have announced they will return. Like Scott Doctherman, Brent Yarnia believes Iowa is the seventh best team in 2012-13.
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