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October 8, 2013

Davis discusses offense

During the bye week, Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis is going over everything from the first half of the season to see which plays and personnel packages worked and where they are falling short. On Tuesday, Davis met with the media to talk about the Iowa offense, quarterback Jake Rudock's progress, if we might see more no-huddle in the second half of the season, and much more.

Watch our videos and read a complete transcript below.



OPENING STATEMENT

Just to tag team what Kirk was saying, we took yesterday and went through a huge quality control day looking at various different things. And we set up marks that you need to hit to be a productive offense; looked at different plays. We also spent quite a bit of time talking about personnel. Where we thought we were at the end of August, where we are now. So yesterday was all about looking in the mirror and trying to decide what we had done well, where we had fallen short, etc.

Then today we moved our attention to Ohio State, so we broke up as a staff offensively and spent all morning breaking down Ohio State. We'll work with the young guys this afternoon and as Kirk mentioned we won't present an Ohio State game plan to the players until Sunday, even though we'll be working on it as a staff.

Q. You mentioned looking in the mirror right now. When you see what you've been able to do, specifically with playing more up tempo, throughout parts of the season, anyway, is that something you're looking into doing more of here and into the season? (Brendan Stiles, hawkeyedrive.com)

GREG DAVIS: Yeah, I think we have played more up tempo. But I think each game is a little bit different. We didn't play as much up tempo against Minnesota as we had leading up into that ballgame. Part of the reason was Minnesota was a game that we put a whole lot on the quarterback at the line of scrimmage. And it's hard to play a bunch up tempo when you're asking the quarterback to get in you in certain plays versus certain looks. We had some success with the up tempo the other day, the other afternoon against Michigan State.

So it's something we'll continue to do, but we're not going to become just a team that runs to the line and tries to snap it. We do want to play fast, faster than we have. I think we have done that. But each ballgame will be a little bit different about how we approach it.



Q. Is Jake what you expected when you named him quarterback or more? (Jared Aarons, KGAN)

GREG DAVIS: I think I mentioned in August, it's hard to evaluate quarterbacks until you hit them. And you don't do that in spring training and fall camp. We felt like Jake had the ability to extend plays, make some plays with his feet. But you're a little bit unsure, because you never know in fall camp. Do they step away from that tackle or do they make that tackle? You also never know how he's going to react to live blitz. You blitz a guy in spring training, and fall camp, they're not going to hit them, so they have a tendency to hold the ball to the last possible second, and that's not the way it is in the real world.

I've been very pleased. The first scoring drive the other day, I think three out of the four completions they came after Jake. He had hot balls to Damond Bullock, that he got out of his hands, saw the blitz.

We're pleased with where he's at, pleased with his ability to make plays with his feet, that's something that he's picked up several first downs. When you look at our third down conversion we're much better than we were last year at this time. Part of the reason is his ability to make plays with his feet.

Q. How are Beathard and Sokol developing off the radar screen? (Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register)

GREG DAVIS: Extremely pleased with both of those guys. C.J. Beathard, I've said it, and I told him Sunday, we'd like for him to play more. He's got an extremely quick arm. I think he also has the ability to make some plays with his feet. But it just hasn't been one of those deals.

Both of those guys have taken to their role extremely well. Not that they're satisfied, but they're continuing to work hard and staying involved in the game plans during ballgames. I'm pleased with what they've done to this point.

Q. Are you looking to do more things this year in your offense than last year? (Kyle Hughes, KCJJ)

GREG DAVIS: We have a lot more depth. Just like Kirk mentioned VandeBerg, I don't even know what he looked like at this time. He stepped in and has really done a nice job. He's got more maturity than you think a young guy would have. Riley McCarron has also done a good job. We've got several tight ends. We've got more guys that we feel like we could play, and that's a good thing. And we've got more guys I think that can fill different roles that we did last year.

Q. Are the tight ends being utilized like you'd like in your offense? (Kyle Hughes, KCJJ)

GREG DAVIS: We've got three or four guys that we're rotating through. And I really look as the last part of the season, I look at their roles to pick up as we go. But we are not having to depend on them quite as much as we did last year, quite honestly, because we're getting some more production out of the wide receivers.

Q. When you were hired, you talked about never having a tight end with the qualities that C.J. Fiedorowicz had. How would you evaluate him right now? (Todd Brommelkamp, Voice of the Hawkeyes)

GREG DAVIS: C.J. is one of those guys, he is one of those guys that can play attached to a tackle and that's really what I was referring to, the guys that I had been around were all wide receivers that we had made into tight ends, so he's just a different style guy. But he has excellent hands. He's a guy that can bang around backers just like the touchdown with Bullock the other day. Two good players banging it around the goal line. And Jake threw a nice ball and C.J. separated and caught the ball. We're pleased with what he's doing. We want him to do more as we continue on.

Q. You mentioned a look in the mirror type of day, how much reflection does it take when you have your running game taken away from you? (Jared Aarons, KGAN)

GREG DAVIS: Well, we've got to look and see why - we went into the ballgame with the idea that running was not going to be releasing - we look at tape, more than once, and we see what they have done against other quality football teams. So we went into the ballgame with the idea it wasn't going to be easy. And they did a great job. And then the game kind of dictated, quite honestly, that we had to get away from it. The last series that we had was 18 snaps. So if you take 18 snaps away from 61 snaps, there's about 40 snaps in the ballgame. So we weren't able to settle in and keep pounding. Typically that's when the running game gets better and better, when you can really stay with it. But we knew it was going to be tough.

Q. Do you have an internal rule of thumb where you come out with a game plan before deciding you need to turn to a different page (John Patchett, hawkeyemic.com)

GREG DAVIS: Yeah, I don't know that it's just a rule of thumb. Part of it is what's happening. It's a team game. Part of it is what's happening on the other side of the ball. Part of it is time of possession. But we want to be balanced. We're not a team that's built to throw 50 and run 30 times. We want to be a balanced team because we can protect better, which we've done much better this year, protecting the quarterback. So that's what we're always going to shoot for.

Q. Your wide receivers are much more improved. Are you getting what you want out of the quick? (Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

GREG DAVIS: If you look at the numbers, it's not crumbled too bad. Yeah, we need the quick game, quite honestly, to be an extension of the run game. So when we're sitting up there and the box is beginning to be loaded and we can flip it out to a slot receiver on a quick out for six yards, like we did the other day to Damon, for us, really, those were runs. For us to be as good as we can be the quick game has to be good. And hopefully that sets up something down the field. We're trying to take more shots than we did last year. It would be nice if we hit some of them. We want to continue to let the defense know that the safeties are good, we'll take our shots.

Q. Is there is a game where you reached the idea number of reps to get Powell involved in? (Brendan Stiles, hawkeyedrive.com)

GREG DAVIS: Well, I think it will be more and more as we go along. Damon came in - obviously Damon is a special guy. And but he was not here in the spring. He was not here in the summer. He showed up about three days before camp. So it's been a process. Obviously we didn't have to teach him how to run fast, he brought that with him. But, as the season has gone on, the other day he actually caught the ball and went 40 yards down the field and that was encouraging. But we want to continue to bring him on, because he is a guy that can do things with it after the catch.

So I don't know that there's a magic number right now, that he gets five or six catches or touches, but we are aware that he is a guy that we have to keep bringing on, there's no question.

Q. Jake looks like a kid who really is sort of a learning machine. He doesn't seem to make the same mistake twice. I think the only common mistake, against Northern Illinois, waited a little bit, against Minnesota on the interception he waited a little bit. Is he seeing things as quickly as he needs to? (Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

GREG DAVIS: Yeah, he is a learning machine. As I said before, he takes courses I can't even spell. He's very bright. He doesn't make the same mistake twice. The play you talk about, you mention the reference to Minnesota, there's no question he came off the fake. It had nothing to do with arm strength. It had to do with the place we were on the field he wanted to see more than he needed to see. Tevaun had run the double move on the safety off a run fake and that just comes with more and more reps. But the throw he made the first third down of the third quarter to Damond Powell, from one hash to their hash, over in front of their bench, that was a big time throw. That was a big time throw against good coverage. We're not concerned with arm strength. The more and more he plays - and he's pretty unflappable. He doesn't get too high or too low.

Q. The offense, is it a matter of getting better? Do you still need to recruit better in certain positions? (Pat Harty, Iowa City Press Citizen)

GREG DAVIS: I've done this a long time. You're never happy. You always want the guy that somebody else has. The running back or receiver, the tightened. So we need to continue to recruit.

At the same time I think that one of the reasons the receivers are better, the second year in the system. I'd be remiss if I didn't say that Bobby Kennedy has not had a big part in making the receivers better. His energy and his understanding of what we were trying to do. But we're getting closer, and we're making strides.

Q. Defense knows what Mark Weisman's intent is. Does that make Bullock key, that he can do more? (Marc Morehouse, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

GREG DAVIS: Damon has really improved the last couple of ballgames, the numbers in the one game may not reflect this statement, but sometimes we see things hopefully before they happen. The last couple of ballgames he has pretty well. His blitz picked up, his vision. I think earlier in the year he was looking for some home runs and not following his mark, but the answer to your question, I think we will be better as we go when we have - Damon brings something that's a little bit different. And we need both of those guys working at a high level to be able to get what we want out of them.

Q. Jake does a little with everyone, even going down to the defensive side of the bench. Is this something you encourage? (John Patchett, Hawkeyemic.com)

GREG DAVIS: The leadership of the quarterback, and I tell quarterbacks all the time, it has to be natural. I've had quarterbacks that their way of talking you probably couldn't repeat on Sunday morning. And they were very productive that way. The kids loved them and that was just them. Jake's probably not like that. Jake is much more, you know, come on guys, we'll get it going or whatever.

But you've got to do it your way. And I think until you're the quarterback it's hard for that to happen. So he went through spring training, we alternated every two reps, he went through the fall camp. I think now we're seeing more of his personality come out throughout the team.


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