A football Friday wouldn't be complete with out the return of the Hawkeye Roundtable. The gang is back together again for another season filled with discussing Iowa Football. This week there's no shortage of topics to discuss. We get the Roundtable's prediction of the 2012 Hawkeyes, the biggest question marks heading into the season, and a whole lot more.
1. Another Hawkeye Football season is upon us. What are you most anxious to see from the 2012 Hawkeyes?
MIKE ZIERATH: First, I want to take a second and thank Tom and Blair for allowing me to be part of the Round Table again this year. To answer the question: Wins! Lots of them! To accomplish that, they will need to be a little bit unpredictable, and at the same time, solid in execution, technique and consistency. This is a very young team from an age stand point. I'm not giving them a free pass because of that, but I am going to be a little more tolerable than maybe some other years. There are a lot of very good things that I can see happening with this team right now. I would like to see those translate to the field in a positive manner.
RDIETZ: In order:
1. The offense
2. The offense
3. The offense.
Did I mention the offense? Because I'm most excited to see the new offense. I'm really hoping Coach Davis is able to add a level of sophistication to Iowa's offense--keep defenses more off balance, find better ways to beat the blitz and in the process improve Iowa's success on 3rd down.
JON LAZAR: I think most of the Iowa fans just don't know what we will see this season, as there are a good number of new players anxious to make their mark. I know we have had the issues at running back.. I have to say that it seems that year after year we wonder what kind of team we will have and we always find out, it's the same consistent, fundamentally sound, tough hitting team we get each season. It has been like this quite a few years so I expect much of the same this year. I also look for a few emerging stars to step up as well.... of course, that will all start with our Quarterback.
LYLE HAMMES: I'm most anxious to see the development of young talent. With this young team, there are plenty of opportunities on both sides of the ball. Far too many times in recent years, we've seen young talent come and go, particularly running backs and defensive linemen. Historically, developing unheralded recruits is what the Ferentz program has done so well. Recently, however, too many key people have left for the program to reap the benefits of their development. I'm not exactly going out on a limb here by saying we're not looking at another 10-2 season in 2012. But I do hope - and expect - to see development. With the talent we've gathered in recent recruiting classes, I feel Iowa is set up to make some noise in the coming years.
TOM KAKERT: I'm with Dietz on this one. I'm really curious and interested to see the Greg Davis offense. I know we've gotten a bit of a peak at it in the two open practices, but I want to see it in an actual game. One other thing I'm interested in, the defensive line. These guys are not getting a whole lot of respect and they have a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Best way to get that respect is to prove people wrong. Going to be very interested to see if a change in position coaches can provide positive results.
2. Two new coordinators on board in Phil Parker and Greg Davis. What changes do you expect to see from them?
MIKE ZIERATH: That's the beauty of bringing new people in and promoting those that were already on board.......you never really know. I think the Parker defense we see may be slightly more aggressive than the previous Parker defense. The offense will show us the biggest changes, while remaining relatively the same. The passing game, as we've all heard and seen, will include the backs quite a bit more and will be based on the shorter, yet higher percentage, type throws to allow the receivers to make some plays that they maybe weren't in the past. Yards after catch (YAC) will look different this year, more so in the years to come.
RDIETZ: I already touched on the offense above but some new wrinkles on defense would be welcome, starting with better disguised blitzes and other ways to keep opposing QBs from getting comfortable. I might pull out what little hair I have left if we keep allowing mediocre QBs to pick our defenses apart (cough...Steele Jantz...cough...)
JON LAZAR: Well, Phil Parker had a great teacher in his father all these years, also, Phil was a All-Big Ten Defensive back, so maybe he has a little more killer instinct and the knack to gamble more than his father did ... Greg Davis, again, time will tell how he takes demand of the game and puts the Offense in good positions to get first downs, and score. These are 2 unknowns for the Hawkeye fans right out of the shoot.
LYLE HAMMES: For Hayden Fry's first ten years or so at Iowa, there was very little turnover in his coaching staff. Suddenly there were significant changes when Barry Alvarez, Bill Snyder, Kirk Ferentz, and Dan McCarney all left. Iowa took a step back in 1989 with a losing record. The next year they went to the Rose Bowl. I'm not predicting a Rose Bowl in the next year, but I do feel we're a year or two away from another upswing in the program. I feel there comes a time when a program needs to make some changes. Norm Parker was a defensive genius, and Ken O'Keefe had a few very good offensive units. In comes Greg Davis, who has been around the block a few times. He's demonstrated the ability to construct offenses to suit his personnel, which is very important. Phil Parker was able to learn from Norm Parker for 13 years. I think he'll emulate Norm's basic defensive philosophy, but with a twist. It will likely be more aggressive. In general, that will mean more big plays on defense, both positive and negative. We may try to gauge too quickly the impact these changes will have. Over time, I expect them to be positive.
TOM KAKERT: Phil Parker is an interesting guy. Off the field he's one of the more soft spoken guys you will find. Put him on a football field and the guy can breathe fire. Phil's a more aggressive guy than Norm Parker. That's just his nature and I think fans will see that reflected in the way he calls a game. Expect tighter coverage in the secondary. Expect more blitzes. On the offensive side, Greg Davis is going to be more diverse. Heck, we might see more passes thrown to running backs in the first game than we have seen in the past three years. I still want Iowa to be balanced in terms of run/pass, but I think Davis will add more wrinkles and that's a good thing.
3. What's your take on the situation at running back, are you concerned about the position this fall, and who will be the leading rusher?
MIKE ZIERATH: I never get too excited about that position. There certainly have been some eyebrow raising moments in the last 10 years with players at that position, but this whole AIRBHG thing, well; it's certainly getting its share of attention, that's for sure. I don't believe in it, therefore, I'm not concerned. There is always someone else that is ready to step in and carry the ball. Will they do as good a job? Maybe not. But then the coordinators have to come up with a plan to help the running game
I actually think the leading rusher will probably be one of the freshmen, Garmon or Malloy. I was really high on Hill until his injury. I kept saying, don't fall asleep on this kid, he's gonna be a good one. I think that is still true. But now Garmon gets his opportunity to shine and Malloy will get the opportunity to contribute and Bullock gets the opportunity to be the man. It's Bullocks until someone else makes it clear it isn't.
RDIETZ: I'm definitely concerned about the position. We have some solid players there but I don't see anyone who is ready to be a big time college back right now. I think Bullock will lead the team in carries and yards but will be surprised (and impressed) if he or another back goes over 1,000 yards.
JON LAZAR: The last 4 years, we have had a real merry go round at running back. We lost several players who could have made this Iowa team one to be worried about for the entire Big Ten. As a fan, I have to believe there are at least 4-5 running backs that are very close talent wise on this Iowa team.
With that said, I would think the coaches would rotate them to keep them fresh, and hopefully use the right back for the right situation. I believe this first game will give us a sure 1-2 punch that Iowa will start the season with and that could change with an injury.
LYLE HAMMES: Yep, I'm concerned. Has there ever been a year in recent history where Iowa has had fewer returning yards? I can't think of one. There's talent among our running backs, but just not enough running backs. There is very little margin for error. All we have to do is look back to last year's first game, when Mika'il McCall broke his leg. Rarely does Iowa go through a season where all their running backs stay healthy. Let's hope this is an exception. Back in 2004 we were basically down to Sam Brownlee and Marques Simmons. The difference there is that we had loads of experienced, NFL-bound defensive players. We don't have that luxury now, and we have to be able to run the ball to be successful. Period.
TOM KAKERT: I'm probably in the minority on this one, but right now I'm not overly concerned. Would I be concerned if any of the top three backs got hurt? Yep. I go back to 2009 and Iowa fans were in panic mode. Jewel Hampton got hurt in July and The Paki Bomb was the starter in the first game. It took a week, but from that point on it was redshirt freshman Adam Robinson and freshman Brandon Wegher. They did a great job. I'd also welcome a defensive performance like 2009 back as well.:)I think Garmon is going to emerge and do so very quickly.
4. Biggest position question mark heading into the season is?
MIKE ZIERATH: Like a lot of others, I think there are potentially, many question marks. If I had to pick one, it would be the D-Line and how they gel and are able to come together. They need to play with an attitude; they need to be like the eight musketeers and work together to form one cohesive unit. Encourage each other. Help each other. Make it clear that failure isn't acceptable and find a way not to fail. The street fight starts on Saturday and goes for 12 games, kind of like a prize fight. Who is standing at the end? If they are in Black and Gold
that's a good thing.
RDIETZ: I think RB is the biggest question mark but since I touched on that above I will go with defensive tackle. We have size and I think we have talent at the position but we have very little experience. If Davis, Trinca-Pasat and Cooper prove to be quality players it will help our defense immensely.
JON LAZAR: I would have to say the Defensive line. Last year, we were supposed to blow everyone off the line and many O-lines from opposing teams handled us pretty well. I hope that the front 4 this year and get it together and help our linebackers make some big plays. It's a consorted effort. I think Phil Parker will do some things we have not seen is awhile. Maybe more blitzing and occasional corner blitz.
LYLE HAMMES: My biggest question is depth. We've talked about running backs and defensive linemen, but new receivers are going to have to step up also. The one position I feel we have good depth is on the offensive line. They're young also, but I think Iowa has the option to run a lot of different offensive line combinations. Do we have that next wave of talented players already on campus to replace people like Marcus Coker and Riley Reiff? We're going to find out.
TOM KAKERT: I've said defensive line since January and my tune isn't going to change. So much of what Iowa likes to do defensively is based off the line being able to stuff the run and put pressure on the passer. If you look back through the Ferentz era, when the defensive line has been really good, Iowa has been really good. If Carl Davis can emerge as a force in the middle, the Hawkeye DL gets a lot better. But, I'm still concerned about pass rushing off the edge and I also worry about LTP and Cooper getting swallowed up in the run game.
5. Your prediction for the season. What will Iowa's record be and which bowl game do you see them going to?
MIKE ZIERATH: I've been doing these Roundtables for quite a few years. I'd have look back to see exactly how long, and I really thought Tom had left me out this year until mid-week. Its questions like this that make me wish he had. This is, without a doubt, one of the most perplexing teams, from a makeup standpoint, that I can remember. They have the ability to make a run if they can get their act together early. That, in my opinion, won't be answered until after the fourth week this year. Are they 2-2 or are they 4-0? What happens if they start out 0-2? Do they fall apart or come together? They have a tough opponent right out of the chute and then another tough one in week two that always acts like their whole season hinges on whether or not they win or lose that game. We've all seen it happen, and both these first games will come down to who punches who in the mouth first. Don't think for one second that either Northern Illinois or Iowa State will be intimidated by the Hawks this year. So, easy schedule, combined with a young team, I've already gone on record saying this team could be 4-8 or 9-3. I'll leave it at that.
RDIETZ: I see us with another 7-5 year. I'm not well versed on the Big 10 bowl tie-ins but I see us back in an Insight-bowl level game.
JON LAZAR: In looking at the schedule, Iowa could have 7-8 wins. There are so many variables to look at, so I have to say there is that possibility as we should be able to win the first 4 games. I have to think that both Iowa State and UNI will pose a threat to win those games. Iowa will have to be ready and make the plays to win.
LYLE HAMMES: As you've read, I feel there are a lot of challenges ahead this season. For a young team, the schedule sets up well, as it's loaded more on the back half. They have an opportunity to start the season strong and rack up some wins. I keep coming back to 7-5 for a season record. I'm guessing they'll win at least four of their first five games to start the season, and then gather three more Big Ten wins in the last seven games to put them at 7-5 on the season.
I can see them going anywhere from the Gator Bowl down to the TicketCity Bowl. I believe the Meineke Car Care Bowl is in between those two. We may have to jump a team or two in the pecking order, but I'll go with the Gator Bowl.
TOM KAKERT: I went on record back in early July with 8-4 and I'll stick with that. Having said that, I could see this team going 6-6 and I could see them going 10-2. As I wrote back in July, this is one of the biggest mystery seasons of the Ferentz Era and nothing would really shock me. I'll also stick with the Gator Bowl thanks to Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible.
6. Final score of Iowa/Northern Illinois and your pick to click.
MIKE ZIERATH: I think that one of these teams will be hard pressed to score points. Just not sure who! I'm going with an Iowa win, 24-10. It won't be fancy, it won't even be pretty, but it will be a good start. My pick to click in this first game will be Damon Bullock, who actually surpasses 100 yards total offense and scores a couple touchdowns.
RDIETZ: I think the Hawks pull away in the 3rd quarter against NIU and win 27-13. My PTC is James Vandenberg with nearly 300 yards passing and two TDs.
JON LAZAR: Northern Illinois was 11-3 last year and won their bowl game. With that said, it is not the same team. They lost their quarterback and RB who were the leaders of the team. I think Iowa comes into Chicago, and beats Northern Illinois 35-17 in front of a large Iowa following!
LYLE HAMMES: As the season begins, we'll have to rely on what experience we do have to win a game away from Kinnick Stadium. I'll start with the back seven on defense and go with Micah Hyde, BJ Lowery, James Morris, and company to play well and get a couple key interceptions. Even with an inexperienced Northern Illinois offense, the back seven will have to play well to support our young defensive line. They will. Iowa 27 - Northern Illinois 20.
TOM KAKERT: The line on this game started at Iowa by 6.5 and almost immediately jumped to 10. That tells you the wise guys in Vegas jumped on the Hawkeyes. I think Iowa wins this one and I think they cover the 10. Iowa 24 NIU 13. Picks to click this week: B.J. Lowery with two picks and Greg Garmon with two touchdowns and over 100 yards total offense.
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