Iowa football notebook: Davis not worried about Vandenberg

BY TORK MASON | OCTOBER 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg threw for 25 touchdowns last season; he has just 2 TD passes through five games this year. His struggles have been speculated about and dissected by fans and media alike.

But Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said his quarterback is fine.

“Would you like him to be better? Yeah, you’d like him to be better, sure,” Davis said. “But at the same time, you’re not going to try to force the issue.”

Davis praised Vandenberg’s selfless play and how he has checked out of pass plays when he sees an opportunity for the running backs. He said those are good plays that Vandenberg doesn’t get credit for because they aren’t clear to the casual observer.

Davis also said Vandenberg may appear to be locking onto receivers at times, but in reality, he’s skipped progressions based on what he’s seeing from the defense before the snap. He said that’s a product of Vandenberg’s film-study habits.

“The one thing that happens with a guy like James is that he does so much study during the course of the week; a lot of times he’s getting a pre-snap tip as to what he feels like the defense is going to do,” Davis said. “And that pre-snap tip will, in some cases, eliminate progressions. I don’t think that’s a problem.”

Tight ends producing

The Hawkeyes got a pair of big plays from their tight ends against Minnesota on Sept. 29 — a 20-yard gain on third down by Ray Hamilton and a 45-yard strike to C.J. Fiedorowicz on the second play of the game. Davis said he’s pleased with their progression, particularly Fiedorowicz’s during his junior year.

“C.J. is playing really well both with the football and without the football,” Davis said. “A lot of the slant plays that have been productive through the first five ballgames. And he’s given us an edge to be able to run the ball.”

But Jake Duzey has gotten more playing time recently, and Davis said the redshirt freshman offers the versatility to play on the line and as a split-out option.

Weisman opening up the passing game

Running back Mark Weisman has rushed for 507 yards and 7 touchdowns in his last three games.

Defensive coordinator Phil Parker said Weisman is a physical back who runs with a good pad level and can punish defenders, especially defensive backs in the open field.

“I’m glad our guys don’t have to tackle him too much,” Parker said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I know in the spring when our offense went down and they wanted to score against us, they gave him the ball and just let him plug it away. It’s hard to tackle him.”

Vandenberg said the offense needs to have the kind of effort Weisman is putting out to reach its potential, both on the ground and through the air.

“… We want to be balanced; we need to be balanced,” he said. “That’s how we’re built; that’s how we’ve always been built. We know how important that is to get a defense on their heels when you can run the ball.”

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