In case you missed it, four of us have been fantasy drafting Kirk Ferentz players in honor of the coach’s 20th season at the University of Iowa (catch Pt. 1 here and Pt. 2 here). We had a lot of fun with it, too, and if you didn’t listen, we have the full team lists at the bottom for you to check out.
But the reason we’re here now, of course, is so you can choose who has the best team out of the four of us. Read our arguments below, check out the rosters, and vote in our poll.
Look folks, I’ll be upfront with you: while these guys came here to draft the best collection of players to attend Iowa under Kirk Ferentz, I came here to field the most Ferentzian team possible. We have linemen. We have tight ends. We have linebackers. I fielded a wide receiver exclusively because the rules of our draft stated that we were required to have a wide receiver. But quite frankly, who needs ‘em? We’re talking Ferentz football, and that means my team is here to run the ball down your throat and chew up as much game clock as possible in the process, just like the Dean of College Football would want. No frills, just football.
The rest of these nerds start their little stump speeches by talking about how great their offense is - we’ll get there eventually - but Kirk Ferentz led teams are led by great defenses. We’re going to start in the trenches, where I don’t have any of the biggest or best names, but what we have is solid. In the middle, we have two guys who often found themselves in opposing backfields in Karl Klug (31 TFL and 11.5 sacks) and Jaleel Johnson (18.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks). On the ends, we have Christian Ballard (21.5 TFL and 12 sacks) and Broderick Binns (26 TFL and 13.5 sacks). That’s 97 tackles for loss and 49.5 sacks amongst four guys. What opposing QB wouldn’t fear that?
The secondary? It’s also very good. We have Bob Sanders (ever heard of him?) and Brett Greenwood, one of the toughest SOB’s ever to put on an Iowa uniform, over the top. At cornerback, Micah Hyde patrols one side of the field, and you may know him from such moments such as a game-winning interception to beat Missouri in the Insight Bowl. On the other side of things, we’ve got Amari Spievey, one of the essential parts of the 2008 and 2009 defenses that were so memorable. The four of them have a combined 33 interceptions in their careers (Greenwood was a true ballhawk with 12 of ‘em) and with a defensive front like the one my team has, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to make your quarterback weep on the sidelines after he’s picked off for the ninth time in a game.
Of course, no Ferentz defense is complete without elite linebackers, and my team’s linebacking corps is ELITE. The names are as follows, and really need minimal elaboration: Fred Barr, 376 tackles. Abdul Hodge, 453 tackles. AJ Edds, 225 tackles and 7 INT, and as we laughed about on the pod, probably the reason Iowa insists on sticking linebackers on wide receivers out of the 4-3 defense. Are these guys as memorable as Josey Jewell, Chad Greenway, or Pat Angerer? Of course not, but I’ll put these guys up against any of ‘em.
Now we arrive at the offense because unfortunately enough, I couldn’t draft two defenses, and where we’re going, we don’t need passing. My team is built to run, run, run. Could we pass if we wanted? Yeah, we could. More on that in a moment.
The offensive line is built to pave way for the run game. Don’t believe me? Here it is: Marshal Yanda, Sean Welsh, Austin Blythe, Julian Vandervelde, Bryan Bulaga. The tackles are some of the best to come out of Iowa ever, as to make sure that we can bounce it outside on that stretch run, but the guys in the middle are certainly no slouches. It will perfectly pave the way for Fred Russell, a two-time 1,000 yard rusher, as this offensive line has some absolute TREES leading the way for the tiny 5’10” back. No matter who’s on the other side of the ball, they’re going to have their hands full even trying to see where he’s going behind this line.
If that line wasn’t enough to tickle your fancy, my team has three tight ends. That’s right - THREE. C.J. Fiedorowicz, a 6’7” OT/TE who was completely underutilized in the passing game, Tony Moeaki, who was completely snake bitten but still was a terrific tight end when he did see the field, and Jake Duzey. And I know what you’re thinking - Jake Duzey? The guy who didn’t even see the field for the majority of his career because of injury? Yeah. I’m snagging Jake Duzey, but SPECIFICALLY the 10/19/13 version, who hauled in six passes for 138 yards and two scores against tOSU in the ‘Shoe. Put an 11 man box in front of this team, they’re not scared. We have five linemen and three tight ends who played ball at Iowa, this team will block the living daylights out of your 11 man box.
And if they do want to stack the box? Whatever. Richard Stanzi is our QB, and he’s certainly not afraid of any defense. He’ll flip the ball over the top to any of these tight ends if you’re not careful, and who do we have at receiver? Trey Stross, because Jordan Hansen requested I take Trey Stross with my last pick. He can block, he can catch it a bit. It’s chill. I already told you - we’re not here to throw.
Last but not least, we have the specialists. At kicker, we have Marshall Koehn, who has an absolute rocket of a leg and is just 2% behind Nate Kaeding in field goal percentage for a career. And then call me crazy, but our punter is the one and only C.J. Beathard, the pooch punt god. The tight ends really come into play here, too - watch the damn fake because this guy can sling it too. Maybe we’ll have Tyler Kluver (18 YPC career) as a long snapper. Could be fun.
Yeah, my team is fun. Some might even say the most fun.
Listen, I know some of you may be skeptical with my team right now. You might be thinking about how I left a little meat on the bone. But look closer. I mean really, really close. Go ahead and put your nose to the computer screen. Do you see that?
THAT’S THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES VERSION OF THE KIRK FERENTZ ERA IOWA HAWKEYES BABY!
The weakest part of my team is the secondary. But when Drew Tate, Shonn Greene, Marvin McNutt, Dallas Clark, Akrum Wadley and George Kittle are running rampant in Brian Ferentz Patriots offense, will it even matter? The answer is a resounding NO!
When I committed to doing this, I wanted to try and be different than the other guys. I knew what they would look to do. And it was something I thought I’d want to do at first too.
But like “The Cubes” says, “when they zig, you zag”.
When I looked back on successful Kirk Ferentz teams in the past, I realized that the offensive lines didn’t really matter. They were always somewhat successful because thats what Kirk does best. So I waited on the O-line knowing full well there would still be a list of All-Big Ten performers at my disposal. I also realized that when Iowa was able to win big, it was because their base 4-3 defense usually had a front four that could attack the quarterback, with a trio of solid-as-hell linebackers behind them filling in the gaps.
Adrian Clayborn, Mitch King, Carl Davis (UNDERRATED), AJ Epenesa, Anthony Hitchens, Pat Angerer and Jeremiha Hunter can do just that.
There is nothing that my team doesn’t have or can’t do. I can score quick. I can milk the clock. I can kick and punt if for some reason I’m stalled out. I can attack the quarterback. I can stop the run. And let’s not pretend that I don’t have anyone out in the secondary that won’t make plays when the opposing QB is under duress.
Do Max, JP and Harrison have nice teams? Of course they do. But you know mine’s the flashiest. You know mine is the one you’d want to play with on NCAA Football on PS2. You know mine has all of your favorite players of the last decade.
You know mine’s the best.
So, give us a vote wont you?
As you look through the rosters of all four teams we drafted, it’s pretty remarkable just how much talent is out there to fill 4 full rosters. Taken individually, each roster looks stellar. What I think sets them apart is the talent at the top and the bottom - the middles are largely the same.
That’s where the fightin’ JPs can differentiate themselves. At the top, you can make the argument my roster has the best tackle-guard combo with Robert Gallery and Eric Steinbach. All the offensive lines are good to great, but each of the others has guys slotted at positions where we know with hindsight they aren’t best utilized. Not the case with the JPs.
Furthermore, I’ve got the best QB in the bunch and I don’t know that it’s terribly close. This is where I think my age wisdom served me best. While Ricky Stanzi, Drew Tate and Nate Stanley are all great in their own right, none of them finished second in the Heisman voting. None of them have come within a TD of Chuck Long’s passing record while ALSO presenting a lethal threat with their legs as Banks did in 2002 when he threw for 2,573 yards and 26 TDs while also rushing for 4223 yards and 5 more TDs.
Add in the leading rusher in the Kirk Ferentz era with Ladell Betts and his 3,686 career rushing yards (2nd all-time at Iowa) and 25 TDs and I feel good about the offense. The tight ends aren’t the best of the four teams, but Chandler and Myers both had very good Iowa careers and solid NFL careers as well. Chandler, in fact, is the leading receiver among tight ends in the KF era with 1,467 career yards and 10 TDs. Both are solid blockers as well.
Out wide, I’ll admit I reached a bit, but I feel solid about it in the context of the rest of the roster. DJK is the dynamic playmaker this offense needs to go with Betts and Banks. And while apparently nobody else remembers him, Kevin Kasper is third in career receiving yards in the KF era behind only the aforementioned DJK and Marvin McNutt. Two out of three aint bad when you have the best QB.
On the defensive side of the ball, I feel similar to the way I did about my offensive line. The star power is there with Roth and Kampman on the outside and Babineaux and Ott in the middle will make running between the tackles a problem.
Pair that pass rush with my secondary of Josh Jackson, Saun Prater, Tyler Sash and Charles Godfrey and I feel really good about the opportunity for creating turnovers. Those two units in combination should help overcome my one glaring weakness, which is the linebacking group. And frankly, while it’s my weakest unit, the linebackers aren’t that bad. James Morris is the fourth leading tackler under KF, behind only Abdul Hodge, Josey Jewell and Chad Greenway. Not bad. Christian Kirksey is the quick coverage linebacker this group needs to stay afloat and Mike Klinkenborg is no slouch with 224 career tackles and more syllables in his last name than any other linebacker taken in this draft.
At the end of the day, this is an offense that is going to score points. Lots of points. They can take the top off the defense with DJK and Banks’ arm, but also make you account for Banks’ legs. Betts running behind this offensive line is good enough to make a lot of things happen given the space he’ll have to operate in and there are some great redzone targets at the tight end spot. They should have a lot of opponents playing from behind, which isn’t a spot they want to be in with my ball-hawking secondary and great pass rushers.
It’s clear my team is the best of the bunch. Where better to determine the quality of a team than its offensive line? All of Brandon Scherff, Seth Olsen, Bruce Nelson, James Daniels, and Riley Reiff received first team all-Big Ten honors. Scherff is an Outland winner. Nelson was a first team All-American like Scherff. Four of the five were taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. There’s not much else to go on by way of offensive line stats, but mine all check the boxes.
Behind him are Albert Young, a man who averaged 4.8 yards per carry and who ranks third all-time (second in the Ferentz era) in rushing yards at 3,173. People forget that. Next to him is Nate Stanley, who only posted one of the greatest statistical seasons in Iowa history at the QB position with 26 TDs and 6 INTs. Can he clean up that completion percentage? It’s hard not to see him doing that with Ed Hinkel, Mo Brown, and Clinton Solomon manning the wideouts. Brown and Solomon offer more big play threats (18.0 and 15.8 YPC, respectively) but Hinkel could also fill up the highlight reel. (You’ll also find a Solomon-Hinkel reverse pass in the below video)
If those three weren’t enough, Noah Fant is added to the mix. No one has offered the blend of production and athleticism at his position in such a short span of time. His star is rising and he’ll be able to make mince meat of the secondary running four verticals with the other receivers.
Along my defensive line is the all-beef unit of Kenny Iwebema, Matt Kroul, Colin Cole, and Mike Daniels. They won’t blow you away with stats (Cole leads the bunch with 23 career sacks) but they will eat your running backs. If they don’t get to him, Chad Greenway and Josey Jewell have it covered sideline to sideline and, for my money, are the two best linebackers to pass through Iowa City. Ben Niemann is hardly an afterthought as the third and his skillset is perfect in the setup, as demonstrated by his consistency throughout his tenure next to Jewell.
Holding down the secondary are the two greatest stat accumulators, if not straight up corners, in Desmond King and Jovon Johnson. At 14 and 17 interceptions, it’s best in the Ferentz era. Don’t let their diminutive size fool you either, they’re both nasty and unafraid of the run game. At a position where there’s a surprising dropoff, safety, are Matt Bowen and Amani Hooker. Bowen will be able to stick his nose in the run game a little more and allow Hooker to do his work ballhawking. He’ll be a star by the time he leaves.
If there’s a weak spot, it’s my stretching to get Miguel Recinos who offers the leg but hasn’t been able to flex his long distance FG chops with Kirk Ferentz’s recent penchant for eschewing the three points on fourth down. Jason Baker is, for my money, Iowa’s best punter. Too bad he won’t be needed since I’ll be scoring every time I have the ball.
If there’s one last sell on my team, it’s that cheering for my team is cheering for the 2018 Iowa Hawkeyes. With Stanley, Fant, Hooker, and Recinos a great season this year just makes my team better. How could you pick against me?
|C||B. Nelson||J. Ferentz||B. Ferentz||Blythe|
Who drafted the best team of Ferentz-era players?
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