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Harty blog: The demise of the pro-style QB and deflated footballs at USC

[ 0 ] November 9, 2012 |

   Take away top-ranked Alabama and it’s hard to find a BCS team that’s having success without using some semblance of a dual-threat quarterback.

   Even mighty Southern California behind senior pro-style quarterback Matt Barkley has underachieved, already losing three games this season.

   Barkley is the epitome of a pro-style quarterback in that he’s accurate and capable of making most throws from the pocket.

   But he lacks mobility, which means he’s vulnerable in this age of speedy and relentless defenses.

  Iowa fans have seen that same vulnerability from senior quarterback James Vandenberg, but under much worse circumstances because Vandenberg’s isn’t as talented as Barkley, nor is his supporting cast.

   The continued rise in popularity of the dual-threat quarterback makes you wonder if the traditional pro-style pocket passer still has a place in college football outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama as long as Nick Saban is coaching there.

   Hayden Fry rebuilt the Iowa program and sustained it for nearly two decades from 1979-98 by using pro-style quarterbacks almost exclusively. The game has changed considerably since then, though, especially on offense with more teams using spread formations rather than the traditional pro-style sets.

   Teams not named Alabama that don’t have a dual-threat quarterback are at a disadvantage because they’re out of options once the play breaks down. And the play often breaks down these days with so many speedy defenses constantly on the attack.

   Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t opposed to using a dual-threat quarterback as evidenced by Brad Banks finishing runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2002. But Ferentz is still more comfortable using a pro-style quarterback because he continues to recruit them on a regular basis.

   It could be his ties to the NFL where he was an assistant coach for six seasons before coming to Iowa. But even in the NFL the pro-style quarterback is giving way to more mobile quarterbacks as the game evolves.

   I wrote a column recently saying that Iowa has to put more emphasis on recruiting dual-threat quarterbacks to keep up with the times. I didn’t feel that way five years ago.

   But a lot has change behind center in the last five years.

   THE FIGHTING IRISH-HAWKS: Notre Dame’s return to glory under head coach Brian Kelly has a strong Iowa twist to it.

   Kelly’s staff includes former Iowa linebacker Bob Diaco as assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator, former Iowa defensive back Kerry Cooks as co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach, former Iowa defensive back and assistant coach Bob Elliott as safeties coach and former Iowa strength coach Paul Longo in the same job.

   Diaco is considered one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and will be linked to numerous head coaching jobs when they become available. The New Jersey native played under Fry at Iowa from 1992-95.

   Elliott is a 33-year coaching veteran and the son of former Iowa athletics director Bump Elliott. Many thought Bobby Elliott was in line to replace Fry as the Iowa head coach until health reasons prevented that from happening.

   Elliott was stricken with a serious blood disorder that required a bone marrow transplant in 1998. He regained his health and has since thrived as an assistant coach, working under Dan McCarney at Iowa State, under Chuck Long at San Diego State, in addition to all the years he spent under Fry at Iowa.

   Cooks was a starting safety at Iowa in the mid-1990s and one of the many Texas natives that Fry recruited from his home state while coaching the Hawkeyes.

   Long served as Fry’s strength coach at Iowa from 1988-98.

   Former Iowa State running backs coach Tony Alford also has the same job for Kelly at Notre Dame, along with coaching the slot receivers.

   Notre Dame is 9-0 heading into Saturday’s game at Boston College.

 MARK STOOPS UPDATE: Continuing with the former Hawkeye-turned-assistant coach theme, the time seems right for Mark Stoops to throw his hat in the head coaching ring. He’s more than proved himself as an assistant coach, including right now as the defensive coordinator for 9-1 Florida State.

   He’s also 45 years old, which is prime hiring age for a head coach.

   Mark’s older brother, Bob Stoops, was 38 years old when he was hired at Oklahoma in late 1998. The middle brother, Mike Stoops, was 41 when he took over at Arizona in 2004. Mike has since been fired and is now back working under his older brother again as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator.

   All three of the Stoops brothers played defensive back at Iowa under Fry, with Bob and Mike both earning first-team all-Big Ten honors.

   Bob Stoops was also a member of Bob Commings’ last recruiting class at Iowa in 1978.

    HEISMAN WATCH: My top three Heisman Trophy candidates as of 11/10/2012:

   Collin Klein, quarterback, Kansas State

   Manti Te’o, linebacker, Notre Dame

   Marqise Lee, receiver, USC

   Some might question having Lee on the list with USC failing to meet expectations at 6-3 overall. But it’s to no fault of his. Lee has been close to unstoppable this season, including setting a PAC-12 record against Colorado with 345 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 16 catches. Lee was recruited to USC primarily as a defensive back and there is speculation he might also play some at cornerback to help USC’s ailing defense.

  A DEFLATED SEASON: With its national title hopes deflated after three losses, USC is now reportedly deflating its footballs.

   But the way USC coach Lane Kiffin explains it, a student-manager deflated the game balls prior to last Saturday’s game against Oregon and did so without anybody else’s knowledge. The student-manager has since been relieved of his duties after the story broke this week.

   Is it just me or is anybody else having a hard time believing that the student-manager acted alone in this case? What would drive a kid to be that calculated and deceitful?

   The PAC-12 Conference announced Wednesday that it had accepted USC’s self-discipline and issued a $25,000 fine to the USC football program.

   Wonder if we’ll ever hear the former student-manager’s version of what happened?

   It’s considered easier to grip and catch a deflated football. That could give a team like USC an advantage because of how much it relies on its passing attack.





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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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