Three hundred and seventy seven days ago, Greg Davis took the podium for a pre-spring game press conference. It was Davis' second public statement since becoming Iowa offensive coordinator in February, his first with some actual observations on the personnel at his disposal. His observations then:
No-huddle offense: "Tempo has been outstanding. We have worked many snaps every day. The players attitudes-- I'm assuming that's the tempo you're talking about, because we're also doing some tempo stuff in our no-huddle. So probably about the third practice on we have part of each practice has been no-huddle. Some of that has been extremely fast no-huddle. So I'm pleased with that. We're still not greased up and totally comfortable with it, but we're headed in the right direction with that....We'd like to be at a point where we start next year where we can play a lot of the game in no-huddle. But how much we use will depend on the opponent."
The playbook: "After y'all have been with me a couple of years, you have this huge offense and each year the job is not to change everything, but it's to refocus where the emphasis is. The passing game that Vince Young ran, and the passing game that Colt McCoy ran was out of the same book, but the emphasis was different on what we went with the two guys. That's what you try to do."
C.J. Fiedorowicz: "This is only 39 springs I've been in, and I've never had a tight end like C.J. with his size and ability to play at the line of scrimmage and also stretch the field."
Running from the shotgun: "We have worked out of the shotgun. I don't have a specific number or percentage. But we have worked out of the shotgun quite a bit. As we said in the offensive meeting, I've been very encouraged about the shotgun run game. Being able to get in the gun and do a lot of the same things that you do from underneath, again, part of that is the game itself that dictates what you're playing."
We all know what happened in the fall. The no-huddle offense was gone within three weeks, replaced by an offense running fewer snaps than any offense Davis ran at Texas, an offense that managed less than 70 snaps in eight of its last nine games. The shotgun formations became a signal to defenders that a pass was coming; in fact, Iowa's formations made the upcoming playcall patently obvious. The play action game was nonexistent, as was the tight end passing game before the last three weeks of the season. And the playbook was adjusted to James Vandenberg's strengths so well that his production plummeted and his draft stock tanked.
So when Davis took the podium again yesterday and gave us another round of dramatic changes to the Hawkeyes' offensive system -- a vertical passing game, greater emphasis on play action, some zone read option running, and of course the up-tempo, no-huddle offense -- you could hear the fan base's collective eye roll across Iowa:
"There's aspects of vertical in all plays. Sometimes it's just having a better focus on giving that guy an opportunity. The other thing is most explosive plays in the passing game come off play action because that's when you have a chance to freeze the secondary. Usually play action creates better protection. You can hold the ball longer. Guys can move down the field."
"We have implemented a little bit of zone read. But it won't be a huge part. It's a part that is aggravating to the defense. Anything that's aggravating to Coach Parker has to be a good thing because that's not what they want."
" I think we have a good group of tight ends. We've got tight ends that will allow us to put multiple tight ends on the field, maybe have two attached, but one of them could be deployed out wide. Again, you're creating some opportunities for the defense and the way they match personnel to try to create some advantages. So the tight ends need to be a big part of what we're doing."
You know what? Prove it. Not Saturday, not in August. Prove it in October. Call a play action pass downfield. Run the no-huddle in a situation of consequence, and don't run it solely out of 13 personnel like the last guy did. Send Jake Rudock or Cody Sokol on a zone read. Because until this offense does something that isn't a stretch play behind Brandon Scherff or a quick flip out to the flat or a one-yard out route on 3rd and 4, we're not buying it.
As for Phil Parker, there wasn't much of consequence. There was an odd sequence where an unidentified phone started ringing. Parker dispatched an aide to silence the phone, then brought out the owner of the world's smallest horse.
Bringing on a guest is certainly an odd move for a press conference, but Phil Parker is an odd guy.
The Iowa spring game is scheduled for Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.