October 3, 2012
The bye week means a weekly press conference without Kirk Ferentz. The bye week also means we get to hear from the coordinators and Greg Davis and Phil Parker met with the media to discuss both sides of the football for the Hawkeyes. Here are a few highlights from both coordinators on topics of interest to Iowa fans.
Davis Confident in Vandenberg
Playing quarterback isn't all about passing the football. Greg Davis knows that and James Vandenberg is also aware of it. It's all about getting the offense into the right play and Iowa's offensive coordinator says Vandenberg is doing a good job of it this season.
"Consistency is a big word around the office and being able to do things well for an extended period of time," Davis said. "James has been getting us into the right plays."
Davis cited a couple of examples from this past weekend where his senior quarterback checked out of a passing play at the line of scrimmage to a run play based on what he saw from the Minnesota defense.
"In the red zone the other day, we probably had at least five passes that he checked off of and went to a run," Davis said. "He had plenty of opportunities in the red zone to go to a pass, but he saw an advantage in the run, and he went to the run. That takes a pretty mature quarterback to leave those plays."
While some might be concerned that the Iowa quarterback who threw 25 touchdowns last season has only two scoring throws this year, Davis doesn't seem overly concerned.
"It's a big deal because I think we're all a little bit surprised. It's not a big deal in terms of what we are looking at or what he's looking at. I mean, would you like him to be better? Yeah, you'd like him to be better, sure. But at the same time, you're not going to try to force the issue," Davis said.
The Hawkeyes had a comfortable lead in the second half against Minnesota thanks to a 21 point explosion in the second quarter. But, in the second half the Iowa passing game still showed signs of being work in progress. After throwing for 165 yards in the first half, Vandenberg completed only six passes in the second half for 27 yards.
Davis suggests its all part of the learning process in a new offense.
"It is a matter of reps, and there are only so many reps you can give them in practice to simulate it until it happens in a ballgame," he said. "We missed Kevonte on a break off route versus a blitz the other day. Again, it was the way the play was installed in spring training. But it's the first time it's come up live. We've continued to work it each week. It was just a matter of the rhythm of what you can do on that particular route. There are things we've got to get cleaned up, there's no doubt about it."
New Look Backfield When Bullock Returns
Greg Davis said Head Coach Kirk Ferentz will speak to the availability of running back Damon Bullock next Tuesday, but once he does return from a concussion, he will have one more option in the backfield.
Since Bullock and Greg Garmon were both injured against Northern Iowa, Mark Weisman has been nothing short of sensational running the football. The Air Force transfer and Iowa walk-on has ripped off 507 rushing yards in basically five halves of football.
Davis said he will be happy to have options at his disposal in the backfield.
"In terms of both of them getting carries, what we've always done and what Kirk has always you give them both opportunities, who gets hot, and then you ride that guy for a while. But it would be good to have two guys back there that have done it a little bit."
He also said Iowa fans could see Bullock and Weisman in the backfield together and perhaps using Bullock split out as a wide receiver in some situations.
Parker Says Pressure Isn't Without Cost
The Iowa defensive line hasn't produced a many sacks this season. Thru five games the Hawkeyes have seven sacks with Joe Gaglione leading the way with three. Defensive coordinator Phil Parker says bringing added pressure comes with a risk and sometimes that risk isn't worth taking.
"You always like to have a lot more pressure at times, but I think sometimes when you bring a little bit of pressure, you give up a chance for an explosive play for the offense," Parker said Tuesday. "So your bring more pressure, maybe bring in an extra guy or even having the four guys up front giving you pressure, it's obvious that you like to do it that way, but when you do start bringing an extra guy, you're susceptible to a big play. If they get a big play in the series, they're going to score a field goal or a touchdown."
Parker Flips Fleming
When Reese Fleming was recruited by the Hawkeyes last year, the initial plan was for the talented athlete out of Chicago to play defensive back. Those plans changed in the spring when the Iowa coaches decided that Fleming would start out at wide receiver when he arrived on campus. This stay on offense lasted until last week when the true freshman moved to defense.
"The kid just loves defense, and I think he just loves our side of the ball," Parker said. "He's a great kid, and we took him as a defensive back, and obviously when the changes went through and we had to talk to him and thought we'd use him a little bit more on offense at the beginning, and right now we think it's best for us as a defensive team that we need him back on defense."
Fleming tore his ACL last fall and has not played this year.
Parker Likes The Highly Touted Freshmen
Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson will likely end up not playing as true freshman for the Hawkeyes. That doesn't mean that Parker hasn't been impressed with what he has seen from the highly rated duo since they arrived on campus this fall.
"I'm very happy with both of those guys, and Reese is, too. They're young, and since we had them in two a days they've made great progress, and sometimes you think if they're big guys, like Carl Davis is, and I think they're going to be very good players, and sometimes you've just got to wait to see what happens."
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