SB Nation's servers willing, it's time to serve you another heaping helping of B1G Potluck! This week's
victim dinner guest: Iowa!
Hope you enjoy the Hawkeye-themed recipes (see if you can figure out the pun in recipe #3!), and the thoughts of OTE's writers on topics such as whether AIRBHG caused Iowa's offense to flatline in 2012, what to expect from Greg Davis's horizontal offense in 2013, the lifetime of indentured servitude that Kirk Ferentz is obligated to serve as coach of the Hawkeyes, and jokes (well, some of them may be funny....but not as funny as Iowa's passing attack!).
If Ferentz wants to watch the world burn, it's definitely a SLOW, controlled burn......
1. Captain Kidd's Hawk-Crushing Shrimp Rolls: What happened to Iowa in 2012? I mean, really -- WHAT HAPPENED? Because frankly I'm stumped as to how a team with a fairly talented QB by preseason measures (James Vandenberg), a tradition of good offensive lines, some decent receiving options (Keenan Davis, C.J. Fiedorowicz), a great safety (Micah Hyde), and traditionally some talent on D-line flailed around to a 4-8/2-6 season, with losses to Central Michigan, Indiana, and a home loss to Purdue. Where do you pin the blame for this (and please don't say AIRBHG)?
Ted Glover: Greg Davis, offensive coordinator. Iowa ran the most unimginative offense, week in and week out, in college football last year, and the statistics bear that out. When Iowa played with a downfield passing game, they looked good, like against Minnesota. But too often, it was way too conservative and vanilla. Look, if a schlub like me...who doesn't follow Iowa week in and week out mind you...can tell you what Davis is going to call when they break the huddle, there's something horrifically, tragically wrong with your offense. Seriously, I called 11 straight plays during the Nebraska game. That's not something I tell you to brag about, it's something I tell you to show you how bad Greg Davis is.
Jesse Collins: AIRBHG isn't even the most obvious answer. The most obvious is Greg Davis + Kirk Ferentz. From what I can tell, last year was probably worst case scenario for Iowa. They brought in an entirely different scheme, but that scheme wasn't allowed to really go all-in. Then, instead of realizing the shortcomings of its parts (specifically the lack of Marvin McNutt to bail out Vandenburg), Greg Davis gets all conservative and stops even trying to do something that might give the Hawkeyes a spark on offense. So basically you had mediocre receivers, a broken quarterback, a terrible system, and zero coherence. You know, plus AIRBHG killing off Iowa Running Backs like COTG killing Philistines. It wasn't pretty.
GoAUpher: Greg Davis happened. A review of the offensive statistical categories for Iowa shows...well, it's ugly. I'd laugh a lot harder if the Gopher defense hadn't decided to take the 2nd quarter entirely off against said ugly offense (sorry about that Floyd but don't worry, you'll be home soon). But even Greg Davis isn't to blame. The man everyone can rightfully chase with pitchforks is Captain Curt/Kirk. Ferentz is the genius who hired Greg Davis, he's the one who allowed his team to run a hurry up offense like it was Opposite Day. And he's the one who patronized his fanbase every time he blamed "execution" as the sole cause of his team's problems. Did I mention everything about this makes me smile. I would also giggle, but that would be innappropriate with Floyd stranded behind enemy lines.
MNWildcat: Greg Davis and Kirk Ferentz. There's no reason that a team capable of playing good, smash-mouth football like Iowa can should have asked James Vandenberg to run a fancy spread offense. That offense absolutely sunk Iowa, and I'm stunned--STUNNED--that no changes were made. Then again, something something Iowa something something never change something something twirly fingers and chewing gum and Kirk Ferentz.
Mike Jones: 2012 was a collective failure on both offense and defense. First, you had an offensive coordinator coming in and installing a run game that didn't even use a fullback and a pseudo west-coast passing game that wasn't anything like Ken O'Keefe's scheme. I also notice you mentioned Micah Hyde...and that was it. Iowa's defense last season was lacking in both talent and experience. The defensive line was either manned by sophomores or seniors who were only starting because there simply weren't any other viable options. The linebackers could only do so much and the secondary was a turntable of pain. Between the injuries and the "Tanner Miller Effect" it spelled doom for the Hawkeye defense.
In short, the team just wasn't that good. On the other hand you have to give them credit for staying scrappy. Iowa lost 5 games by a combined 14 points...so it's not like they were just out there laying down and taking it (see: Illinois).
BabaOReally: I may be the only person who thinks that Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis deserves a lot of the blame. Ferentz probably should've insisted on trying out a different QB when it became clear that JVB wasn't getting it done. 2012 Iowa was basically 2012 Michigan State without a great defense.
MSULaxer27: Had to go back and check. I had forgotten that the 2009 Iowa team was effectively 10 points away from an undefeated season (10-17 to NU AT HOME?!! and OSU 24-27 in Columbus). Since then it Iowa has been on a slow fall to mediocrity. 2010 8-5 (4-4), 2011 7-6 (4-4), 2012 4-8 (2-6). Since the highs of 2002-2004 (31-7 overall), Iowa has fallen off a bit but is still 58-43 (.574) with 3 bowl wins. I understand the cycles of recruiting and injuries but with the absence of a major scandal resulting in the exodus of players, how do you go from 11-2 to 4-8 in a single class? So I think this one is firmly on the coaching staff. This kind of trend does not usually bode well for a coach, but being that Ferentz is the longest tenured in the B1G and has four 10 plus win seasons with the Hawkeyes I think he will get a little more wiggle room.
Graham Filler: Greg Davis. His offensive "philosophy" matched up horribly with all the positive things that Vandenberg had done in the past. And obviously the injuries didn't help. But seriously, put all your guys in the box against last year's Iowa team. Because the routes aren't vertical and the run game threat is the only effective weapon.
2. Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice: Iowa's pro-style offense has traditionally thrived when it can work a punishing running game along side play action passing downfield. AIRBHG notwithstanding, the Hawkeyes look like they'll be able to run the ball in 2013 with Marc Weissman, Damon Bullock, and Jordan Canzeri. But they also lost two experience O-linemen in James Ferentz and Matt Tobin, and can they really expect much of a passing game when their best receiver is a tight end (Fiedorowicz), and they have a QB throwing the ball who has ZERO games of experience in college football in Jake Rudock? Will the Iowa offense struggle again in 2012? Can it get moving behind the running game, or will the passing game's struggles behind a young QB with few capable targets allow opponents to stuff the box with defenders?
Ted Glover: I hate to beat a dead horse here, but as long as Greg Davis is the OC I don't see Iowa having consistent success. He was bad at Texas, and took a fringe All Big Ten QB with a decent offense and turned him into a tire fire last year. And there's less to work with this year. Of course, every time we think Iowa is going to stink, Kirk Ferentz finds a 9 or 10 win season in his pocket, so we'll see.
Jesse Collins: Depends on how much you believe in Greg Davis. At his height of success - the Vince Young super year notwithstanding - he had a good not great running game with Colt McCoy leading the charge in the rushing game. What made that year so successful, however, is that he knew how to scheme around his two most talented receivers to keep opposing defense off kilter. Those two? Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby. It was mostly successful too. They rode that to the 9th ranked offense with Greg Davis doing his job against a pretty good OSU team during bowl season. But like I said earlier, do you believe in Greg Davis? The numbers go down from there and not using the talented backs Texas amassed can arguably be the tipping point towards the hatred of him. Personally, I think he deserves this year to get things moving in the right direction. If he doesn't, expect a really awful year in Iowa City.
GoAUpher: I'm fully expecting the Hawkeyes to struggle on offense again in 2012. Mike talked yesterday about how the younger players' familiarity with Greg Davis' system would be a positive for the team. But I'm not sure how being intimately familiar with running a 1 yard pass play on 3rd and 3 is really going to help much. Any team with a decent run defense should be able to hold the Hawkeyes in check thanks to the lack of weapons in the passing game.
MNWildcat: Iowa doesn't have many wide receivers? Fine. Take a page out of Bill O'Brien's book: Mike told us on Monday that Iowa has SEVEN tight ends on scholarship. Use 'em! Look, Rudock will struggle. But C.J. Fiedorowicz and the coterie of tight ends should provide Rudock ample options over the middle. Problem is, I doubt Greg Davis is going to be changing his system to fit the players he has. Iowa's going to try to spread the field with speed they don't have and ask a completely fresh QB to make passes he's not ready to make.
Mike Jones: The Hawkeyes lost a few starters on the offensive line but get back two guys lost to injuries and some highly touted recruits will step in as starters. Furthermore, offensive line is rarely a problem at Iowa unless injuries mount up (as they did last season). With a stable of healthy running backs (for now) and some talented wide receivers there's no reason to think the Hawkeyes can't be better in 2013. On the other hand, it's not like they could get any worse. I'm also calling WR Tevaun Smith my breakout player of the year.
MSULaxer27: I don't know. Is Iowa one of those teams that does better when they have lower expectations? The easiest game(s) on their schedule are probably Purdue and Minny and both of those are on the road, which I suppose provides a better opportunity for a road win...but Floyd and OMHR Purdue! So there is that. Last year was Iowa's first losing regular season since 2000 (6-7 in 2006 was the result of a bowl loss), so this is a new experience for Ferentz. I will point to MSU's incredible success (heavy sarcasm font) last season with a brand new QB and brand new receivers as an example of what the Hawkeyes might experience with their new pieces this season.
Graham Filler: I think the most important thing is the schedule, which looks vicious, and won't help a young team adjust. We're looking at 5-7, at best. @Nebraska, @OSU...with home games against Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan State. So yeah, a youthful Hawkeye squad with an inexperienced quarterback plays six out of the seven best Big Ten teams. I see this working out well.
Get Horizontal with Greg Davis, the Iowa Offense, and Pitbull!!!!
3. Horizontal Tacos al Pastor: Now time for the biggest question mark surrounding the Hawkeyes - Kirk Ferentz. He's the B1G's longest tenured coach, and by any objective measure has been fabulous, leading Iowa to 2 BCS bowl appearances, bowl wins over the likes of LSU, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina, and 2 B1G championships (2002 and 2004). He's also criticized for hiring Greg Davis (whose track record seems to be of horizontal offensive futility), sticking too long with Ken O'Keefe, and generally failing to adapt his game plan (particularly on offense) to the changing times. He's also effectively un-fireable until 2020. Do you still believe in Kirk Ferentz? Will his steady hand lead Iowa to rebounding to the B1G's top tier (as in 2002-2004 and 2008-2009)? Or will his loyalty to ineffective assistants and refusal to change bury Iowa as its rivals (particularly Minnesota, Northwestern, and Wisconsin, but also OSU and Michigan) seem to be on the upswing under improved coaching?
Ted Glover: Get good assistants to run the offense and defense and he'll be fine. Keep the same guys with the same philosophy, and Ferentz is gooned. Well, not gooned as in get fired, because he has the best agent in the history of contract negotiations. Seriously, what was Gary Barta thinking with that extension and buyout clause? No, not monetarily gooned. But gooned as in Iowa is in danger of falling into semi-permanent irrelevancy, which is a damn shame. With programs like Minnesota and Northwestern on the upswing, Gary Andersen in Wisconsin looking to elevate Wisconsin to the next level, and Darrell Hazell and an impressive coaching staff in Purdue looking to turn things around, Iowa faces the specter of really falling behind most of the B1G schools. Ferentz really struck gold for a long time with defensive coordinator Norm Parker, and before Ken O'Keefe really started taking heat at the end of his tenure, Iowa had some of the best offenses in the conference. Those guys are gone, and Ferentz went with the safe, conservative choices in replacing them. So far, it hasn't worked, and I don't see a lot of philosophical changes for this coming season, either..
GoAUpher: You're asking a Minnesota fan if he believes in Kirk Ferentz? I believe in his ability to be a smug and prickly individual regardless of whether he is winning or losing. I believe in his ability to reliably find new sacrifices to offer to AIRBHG (WHEN WILL THE RECRUITS LEARN?). I believe that I dislike him immensely. As for whether he'll finish tanking at Iowa? I dunno. He's been boom and bust before and much like Wisconsin basketball it's probably best not to prematurely declare him finished lest he take his boring style of play and rise to a level just below the best that the B1G has to offer.
MNWildcat: Ferentz needs a new offensive coordinator. Am I a broken record yet? Just checking.
Mike Jones: Yes, I still believe in Kirk Ferentz. I'm skeptical these days but I still believe. As I wrote in a piece earlier this week: 2013 is about the future. We need the offense to gel, starters to emerge and the defense to play fundamental football. I'm not worried about wins and losses because I know it's not going to be a pretty season. I'm worried about seeing progress. I also don't think it's fair to say the assistants are ineffective after one season. There hasn't been enough of a sample size to declare Greg Davis and Phil Parker as "ineffective." Now, if 2013 is an abysmal failure...get back to me.
BabaOReally: My gut feeling tells me that 2012 was an anomoly, and Ferentz will soon have the Hawkeyes back in the postseason. I think they'll settle in as a third tier conference team in the coming years. There will be more 7-5 and 6-6 years than anything, with a few 8-4 seasons sprinkled in.
MSULaxer27: Ferentz has earned the opportunity to turn the team around.
Arguably BHGP's greatest work.....
4. Iowa Farmer Today's Chocolate Refrigerator Dessert: If Iowa fans are blessed in any manner (aside from once having big-ass turkey legs outside of Kinnick), it is by having the funniest team blog in the universe at Black Heart, Gold Pants. In honor of BHGP, tell a joke. Any joke.
Ted Glover: Tim Beckman. THAT'S THE JOKE...
Jesse Collins: Pshh... I'm from Nebraska, we don't know what jokes are here. Duh.
GoAUpher: What do Iowa fans and Minnesota fans have in common? None of them have degrees from the University of Iowa.
MNWildcat: Iowa's offense.
Mike Jones: A joke? Uh, ok. In question #3 you named Northwestern as one of Iowa's "rivals." That's my joke.
BabaOReally: Indiana University Football.
MSULaxer27: In the spirit of dessert, from a Laffy Taffy wrapper: How do you repair a broken Jack O' Lantern? With a pumpkin patch!
Graham Filler: "You may not be a winner in life, but you can always be a winner at a silent auction." - overheard at a county dinner last week. That's some Midwest humor right there.
C.E. Bell: Two guys are at work, eating lunch. The first guy says "Man, I'm really in the doghouse with my wife. On Friday, we were heading to Pittsburgh to visit my in-laws for the weekend. When I got up to the ticket counter, there was this beautiful, large-breasted attendant behind the counter. When she asked what she could help us with, instead of saying "2 tickets to Pittsburgh," I accidentally said "2 pickets to Tits-berg." I'm still sleeping on the couch!"
The 2nd guy says: "I know exactly how you feel. The other day, I was sitting having breakfast with my wife. I meant to say: "Honey, will you please pass the syrup?" but instead I slipped up and said "BITCH YOU RUINED MY LIFE!""