Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is in his second year under Ferentz
|IOWA CITY – Iowa football fans looking for some sign of hope this season after a disappointing 4-8 season a year ago may have found a glimmer Tuesday during Media Day at the Hayden Fry Football Complex.|
Finally something to get excited about.
The Hawkeyes are picked by many to finish last in their division primarily because of inexperience at quarterback, a lack of playmakers and an offense that had trouble scoring. No promises were made by coach Kirk Ferentz, but a slight whiff of optimism was in the air, and it smelled like a more up-tempo, wide-open offense – one that could result a few more points than the 19.3 the Hawks averaged a year ago.
And maybe a few more wins as well.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is in his second year under Ferentz. He brings to Iowa an impressive list of credentials from his 13 years under Mack Brown at Texas, including one season in which the Longhorns averaged more than 50 points per game. But Davis doesn’t have the athletes at Iowa that he had at Texas. Instead, he will attempt to overcome that deficiency with gameplans, schemes and formations designed to keep defenses off-balance and on their heels.
Chief among the changes will be a no-huddle offense designed to push the pace of play. To an offense that under Ferentz’s the past 14 years changed at glacial speeds if at all, this seems like the roadrunner in comparison. But one challenge that Davis will have to overcome to be successful is a receiving corps that lacks experience. Kevonte Martin-Manley had 52 catches last season and will start at one receiving spot, but the next three receivers on the depth chart have fewer than a dozen catches total last season. According to backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, Davis will be looking to take more shots downfield when the opportunities arise. That could be problematic, however, if the quarterback and most of the receivers lack experience.
“One of the things we felt we needed, after evaluating a lot of things in the off-season, was that we needed more snaps,” Davis said.
The Hawkeyes averaged 62.5 plays per season, and statistics show that if Davis can push that to 70 or more that could boost scoring by a touchdown. However, taking more snaps in the same formation (one back, three receivers) doesn’t work by itself. The key is to mix in two-tight end or two-back sets so the defense has to adjust personnel on the fly.
“It can vary from fast to slow,” said running back Mark Weisman, who added that the team has run plays in practice with both Weisman and backup tailback Damon Bullock on the field at the same time. “It’s harder for the defense to get lined up like that. If they are trying to make rotations and we are not huddling, they don’t know when we are going to snap the ball.”
For now, Hawkeye fans can only hope the changes Davis makes this season will be good enough to snap a string of six consecutive losses.
By Brian Campbell
Hawkeyesportsnews.com Senior Writer