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New faces, new positions for 2013 Hawks

[ 0 ] March 27, 2013 |

Iowa finished 4-8 last season. The Hawkeyes were not bowl eligible for the first time since 2000.

The season autopsy found a lot of things that went wrong but foremost among them was an offense that just didn’t work very well.

Iowa averaged 19.33 points per game, 111th in the NCAA. Their total offense managed 310.42 yards per game, 114th in the NCAA.

(There are 124 NCAA FBS schools.)

Iowa did that under first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who returns this spring to run the offense and coach the quarterbacks.

Most of the other offensive coaches are new: Bobby Kennedy was hired this spring to coach receivers, and Chris White was hired to coach running backs.

Brian Ferentz returns as offensive line coach for the second season.

But overall, there are a lot of new faces.

“The room has changed quite a bit,” Ferentz said. “I think it forces more conversation and more things to think about.”

To that end, the spring two-deeps don’t list a fullback. Instead, Iowa is listing a Y-back — a second tight end that lines up in places other than right beside an offensive tackle.

It is a departure from past Hawkeye depth charts.

“Obviously, the goal is to get your best 11 out there,” Ferentz said. “I envision us playing with a fullback. I envision with two tight ends at times.

“Also three wides, that type of thing, the things that we’ve done in the past. It’s just a matter of seeing what we can piece together.”

Ferentz didn’t indicate it was time to completely re-invent the wheel going into spring football or the 2013 season.

“We’ll toy with things this spring and see how our players adapt to it,” Ferentz said. “It’s not going to be radically different.”

What will be radically different is who is taking snaps under center. Sophomore Jake Rudock is listed as the top quarterback to start spring, with junior Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard listed a co-backups.

None took a snap a year ago.

“It’s not often where this happens, but we’re going in with a truly open mind,” Ferentz said. “It’s not like there’s an incumbent there. I don’t think anybody has a clear advantage or edge.

“Jake has had the most repetitions.”

Ferentz said all three quarterbacks will work with the first team during the spring.

James Vandenberg took every snap last season. His passing efficiency of 107.72 ranked him 107th in the country. He had 2,249 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Despite those rough numbers, Vandenberg was invited to the NFL combine last month.

“You know, you just never know what’s going to happen with quarterbacks and what’s going to happen down the road,” Ferentz said.

Mark Weisman (159 attempts, 815 yards) and Damon Bullock (135-513) were listed a co-No. 1 at running back. Ferentz said he’d like to get both on the field together, something Iowa could not do last year because of injuries.

“If you can have those two guys out there, I think it gives us a little bit more firepower, which is something we lacked last year for sure,” Ferentz said.

Junior Kevonte Martin-Manley (52 catches, 571 yards) and sophomore Tevaun Smith (3-31) are listed as the starting receivers, senior C.J. Fiedorowicz (45-433) is listed at tight end and sophomore tight end Jake Duzey (3-16) is at Y-back.

JUCO receiver Damond Powell, a speedster, won’t join the team until the fall.

Iowa lost just three starters on defense — DE Joe Gaglione, DT Steve Bigach and CB Micah Hyde — and have fewer questions on that side of the ball. Iowa ranked 49th in total defense (381.58 ypg) last season and 33rd in scoring defense (22.92 ppg).

Spring football concludes with an open scrimmage April 27.

Iowa opens the season Aug. 31 at home against Northern Illinois.

News and notes:

POSITION CHANGES: Sophomore Macon Plewa (6-2, 234) switched from linebacker to fullback. Ferentz said they needed more flexibility there with Weisman moving to running back full time.

Sophomores Adam Cox and Berkley Grimm also are listed at fullback.

Greg Mabin has switched from receiver to safety.

“That is sometime we considered when we recruited him,” Ferentz said.

Nate Meier might try the defense end.

Steve Ferentz could move from tight end to center, where both his brothers played before him.

INJURY UPDATES: Ferentz ruled out senior offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan and junior defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat from spring football.

Redshirt freshman running back Mike Malloy also injured his ankle and will be in a boot to start spring practice.

Ferentz said redshirt freshman defensive back Rubin Lile and redshirt freshman running back Barkley Hill, both coming off knee injuries, have the green light.

“We’ll be careful with those guys this spring,” Ferentz said. “But they were both doing really well.”

Ferentz also added that junior offensive lineman Brandon Scherff is 100 percent, and junior offensive lineman Andrew Donnal is close behind. Both are practicing in full pads.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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