IOWA CITY, Ia. — There are still more questions than answers with the Iowa football team that practices in front of a crowd at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, but this much is clear:
Don’t blink. You might miss something when the Hawkeyes have the ball.
Fans have heard that throughout the spring from players on the offensive side. But Wednesday, reporters even heard it from new defensive coordinator Phil Parker.
“We’ve been practicing (against) a lot of hurry-up offense,” Parker said during the weekly press conference. “That’s what we see probably four, five times (during) a year, so that helps us. We’ve done that in the past, too, (but) we’ve probably done that a little more than normal.”
That style of offense was in new offensive coordinator Greg Davis’ DNA at Texas. It’s still there, and on display for the first time publicly at noon Saturday at Kinnick Stadium — and then again in the opener Sept.1 against Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
“We’re doing some tempo stuff in our no-huddle,” Davis said. “Some of that has been extremely fast no-huddle, and I’m pleased with that.
“We’re still not greased up and totally comfortable with it, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
Like all coaches, Davis often uses the “play to the strengths” line. Considering Iowa had tailbacks on Wednesday’s depth chart with just 28 career college carries for 99 yards and no touchdowns, it may be more reality than cliche.
“They catch the ball well out of the backfield,” Davis said. “They’ve picked up the passing game of what we’re doing extremely well.”
The offense will include quick passes to tight ends — specifically 6-foot-7, 265-pound C.J. Fiedorowicz, who caught 16 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns last season.
“This is only 39 springs I’ve been in it — 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,” Davis said. “He’s encouraging. He’s talented enough to play on the line, in movement, and out wide. We need him to create mismatches.”
Quarterback James Vandenberg also will throw quick passes to receivers, although Keenan Davis, the top returnee at the position, is out with a minor undisclosed injury.
“When you talk to defensive coaches, which I try not to do very often, they usually tell you the same things — if you are a total no-huddle team, they’ll follow right in line with you,” Davis said. “They’ll substitute and go to nickel (defense). But when you’re in and out of it, there are communication problems. There are things you can do in no-huddle that forces the action … (and) changes momentum sometimes, which means we’ll be able to jump in it whenever we choose.
“Whether or not it’s a quick passing game with wide receivers or a quick passing game of tight ends — we’re not at that point to give you a great answer.”
Injury notes: Receiver Keenan Davis and linebacker Shane DiBona will miss Saturday’s scrimmage with minor undisclosed injuries, university spokesman Steve Roe said Wednesday. Both are expected to return for the final three workouts next week.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football