Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.
2009 final record (overall, conference):
Bowl Game: Orange Bowl (W 24-14 vs. Georgia Tech)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): 7, 7
Conference finish: 2nd Big Ten
Offensive rank: 89
Defensive rank: 10
2009 Individual Statistical Leaders
Rushing: Adam Robinson, 834 yards, 5 TD; Brandon Wegher, 641 yards, 8 TD
Passing: Ricky Stanzi, 2,417 yards, 17 TD, 15 INT
Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulian, 750 yards, 2 TD; Marvin McNutt, 674 yards, 8 TD
Tackles: Pat Angerer, 145 total tackles
Sacks: Adrian Clayborn, 11.5 sacks (11 solo, 1 assisted)
Interceptions: Tyler Sash, 6 interceptions (1 touchdown)
2010 Season Outlook
September 11 vs. Iowa State: This has not been an easy victory of late, although Iowa downed their in-state rival 35-3 last season. Six turnovers had a little something to do with that outcome, but it was the first time the Hawkeyes took one from the Cyclones on the road since 2003 following two road losses in 2005 and 2007. They'll play this one in Iowa City, but there's no reason Iowa should be content going into this one against a team who could put the kibosh on the Hawkeyes' national title hopes early on.
September 18 @ Arizona: The Wildcats are better than people think. Their offense could be among the top in the Pac-10 and while their defense has a few questions that need answered, this could be a dangerous team itching for a little respect on a national level. What better way to earn that respect than by beating a team like Iowa on national television in a late night feature.
October 23 vs. Wisconsin: Penn State a few weeks earlier will be important as well, but Wisconsin holds very real Big Ten title aspirations and whatever the result of their matchup with Ohio State the previous week, they should be coming into this one with tons of emotion. Anything but a disheartening defeat would make this a dangerous Badgers squad. If they're coming off a victory, this will be a very hungry team that will smell a Rose Bowl berth. And if they're coming off a tough defeat, what better way to reinsert themselves in the Big Ten picture than by beating the Hawkeyes? Either way, Iowa needs to be on their toes here.
November 20 vs. Ohio State: Many are already pegging this as the de facto Big Ten Championship. Penn State and Wisconsin sit in between both teams and this late season matchup, but with Iowa and Ohio State expected to be the most well-equipped teams in the conference, this one has season-defining game written all over it. The Hawkeyes get a break by playing this one at home rather than facing a hostile crowd in Columbus.
Tony Moeaki, TE; Bryan Bulaga, OT; Kyle Calloway, OT; Dace Richardson, G; Rafael Eubanks, C; Pat Angerer, LB; A.J. Edds, LB; Amari Spievey, CB
Key Returning Players
Ricky Stanzi, QB; Adam Robinson, RB; Marvin McNutt, WR; Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, WR; Riley Reiff, OT; Adrian Clayborn, DE; Broderick Binns, DE; Karl Klug, DT; Tyler Sash, S
It doesn't feel right saying that the biggest question mark on an Iowa offense is the offensive line, but when you lose a few all-stars, questions will inevitably arise. There isn't panic in Iowa City, though, with talent returning and some bright spots set to fill in for the departed stars. Riley Reiff could be the biggest star on the new unit after seeing time at right tackle and guard. He'll take over for Bryan Bulaga as the left tackle. Julian Vandervelde will play next to Reiff at left guard, providing the unit with a shot of experience. At right tackle, Markus Zusevics will take over with Adam Gettis lining up next to him at guard. The two have looked good in the offseason and bring great upside to the unit. The center battle between Josh Koeppel and James Ferentz is ongoing to replace Second Team All-Big Ten center Rafael Eubanks.
So with the offensive line looking pretty good despite the loss of a few all-stars, the running game should be in decent shape. Right? What was shaping up to be a very deep backfield is now extremely thin following the departure of Brandon Wegher, a sophomore who was expected to compete for the starting spot before leaving the team for personal reasons. Jewel Hampton is back after recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of action last year, but will miss the first game due to a suspension. And then there's Marcus Coker, who broke his collarbone and may be gone for the season. Adam Robinson, who missed spring practice due to injury, was last year's leading rusher and will again assume the starting spot. The job was wide open, and Hampton will see his fair share of playing time after his suspension, but with the slew of bad luck in the backfield, Robinson should have no problem holding onto the starting role. Now Robinson and Hampton just have to stay healthy.
All-Big Ten first team tight end Tony Moeaki is gone, leaving Alan Reisner as his replacement. Reisner is a talent at the position both as a receiver and a blocker. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos led the team with 750 receiving yards and could very well do it again in 2010. He's a deep threat who will work on and develop his all-around game as the season progresses. Marvin McNutt may not be the team's best deep threat, but he's fast and was productive, scoring six touchdowns in the final six games last year. His 674 yards weren't too far behind Johnson-Koulianos' and the two will combine to form a dynamic one-two punch for quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
Stanzi was probably best described last year as being inconsistent, but was very productive at times as well. The problem was that he just about gave all of Iowa City a heart attack by digging himself deep holes and then almost miraculously finding his way out. His guts were on display on several occasions last season, but with talent at the wide receiver and tight end positions, and a couple of talented backs (if they're healthy) complimenting the passing game (and talent of his own), there's really no reason for Stanzi-related coronaries this season.
Adrian Clayborn is a monster. He's arguably the Big Ten's best player at any position and would have been a first round draft pick had he chosen to come out a year early. To the delight of Hawkeyes fans everywhere, Clayborn will continue to bring his talent to Iowa City coming off a season of 70 tackles, 20 of them for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. In the Orange Bowl, Clayborn put on a show, recording nine tackles and two sacks as the Hawkeyes stifled the Georgia Tech triple option. Lining up opposite Clayborn is Broderick Binns, who came away with a nice season of his own last year (63 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks) and even finished with nine passes defended. With Clayborn deserving, and getting, so much attention, look for Binns to have another nice outing. In the middle of the line will be Karl Klug, a bit of an undersized tackle at 270 pounds. Still, he's productive and talented enough to produce (65 tackles, 13 for loss and four sacks) and could find himself as more than just an honorable mention in the conference when all's said and done. Christian Ballard will line up next to Klug, rounding out the four returning starters on this unit. He was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last season after recording 54 tackles, nine for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Pat Angerer was in on just about every play from his middle linebacker position last season, recording 145 tackles, fourth most in the nation. Taking over for Angerer in the middle is Jeff Tarpinian, who put in a nice spring and was impressive enough last season to record 20 tackles from a backup role on the weakside. Jeremiha Hunter was the team's second leading tackler a year ago with 87 and comes into the season as perhaps the biggest star of this unit upon the departure of Angerer and A.J. Edds. Replacing Edds will be Tyler Nielson, a junior who he saw action mostly on the special teams.
In addition to Angerer and Edds, losing cornerback Amari Spievey was another blow to this defense. But like there's talent waiting to step in for the linebackers, sophomore Micah Hyde is good-sized option with enough speed to handle the starting role. Hyde joins Shaun Prater, who started ten games last season. Prater will be the top corner for this defense, but he'll have some nice help up top from Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood. The safeties combined for nine interceptions last season, with Sash the standout with six picks to go along with 85 tackles from his strong safety spot. He's one of the nation's best defensive backs and should be looking at another productive year. Both Sash and Greenwood, though, missed some time in the offseason with shoulder injuries and need to stay healthy.
Special Teams Overview
Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker are locked in a competition for the kicking duties. Iowa won four of their games by three points or fewer and lost their overtime matchup against Ohio State by a field goal, so don't discount the importance of the kicking duties for the Hawkeyes. Inconsistency has been the problem here, with Murray missing two shots from within 30 yards last season. Mossbrucker has not attempted a field goal beyond 40 yards. Ryan Donahue will be the punter coming off a season in which he averaged 41.0 yards per punt and pinned 27 punts inside the 20 yard line last season.
Colin Sandeman will handle punt return duties coming off a season in which he averaged 9.0 yards per return. It's nothing spectacular, but it's a solid number. In addition to being the offense's biggest deep threat, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was also an excellent kick returner last season. He averaged 31.5 yards on his 12 attempts including one touchdown.
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz
Kirk Ferentz's Iowa Hawkeyes have enjoyed success since he took over for the 1999 season. Things may have started out slow as he built the team into his own with a 1-10 record in '99 and a 3-9 record in '00, but it didn't take too long before Ferentz had Iowa with a winning record and playing in a bowl game. The 2001 Hawkeyes went 7-5 with an Alamo Bowl win. He's made the bowl season every season since with the lone exception of the 2007 6-6 squad. A 20-6 record in the last two seasons with back-to-back impressive bowl wins and consecutive top 25 finishes (#20 in 2008 and #7 in 2009) is indicative of the path down which this team is headed in the upcoming season.
Ferentz was an NFL guy from 1993 to 1998 with stops as the offensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns and then the Ravens when the franchise moved to Baltimore. His offensive lines at Iowa have produced plenty of NFL talent and continue to be among the best in the nation. After a stint as a graduate assistant with Pittsburgh in 1980, Ferentz moved to Iowa as the Hawkeyes offensive line coach from 1981 to 1989 before serving as head coach at Maine from 1990 to 1992.
Top 2011 Draft Prospects
Ricky Stanzi, QB; Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, WR; Adrian Clayborn, DE; Christian Ballard, DT; Karl Klug, DT/DE; Jeremiha Hunter, LB; Brett Greenwood, S; Ryan Donahue, P
2nd Big Ten
Iowa has a team that could down anybody that comes their way in 2010. The problem is that if last year is any indication, they're also susceptible to dropping a game against a team they should have no problem handling. There was one such loss last season when Northwestern beat the Hawkeyes 17-10, but Stanzi was injured in that one and had to watch from the sidelines as the Hawkeyes could not find their late game magic. Northern Iowa gave the Hawkeye nation a bit of a scare early on as well. There was also a three point victory over Arkansas State the week after they beat the fifth ranked Nittany Lions and then a couple tight ones against Michigan and Michigan State. If this team is to challenge for the conference title, they'll have to make sure they take care of business against their softer opponents, even if a star player or two is temporarily sidelined.
The November 20 matchup with Ohio State could decide the Big Ten champion this season, although both teams will have to get through Wisconsin and Penn State first. The good news for the Hawkeyes is that they get the Badgers and Nittany Lions at home this year, and won't have to play a de facto Big Ten title game in the 'Shoe. There are no glaring question marks on this team with an offensive line and linebackers corps expected to be just fine after losing some key players, although staying healthy will be key in the backfield as well as for their starting safeties. - Danny Hobrock
Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.
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