A look ahead to 2013 Iowa football
Kirk Ferentz is confident better days are ahead for his program.
After Iowa’s season ended with a loss to Nebraska on Nov. 23, the Iowa football coach said he was confident the Hawkeyes would improve on their 4-8 record.
“Our players. Start with that,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got some good players on our football team. There’s no reason we can’t be successful. We fully realize we have a lot of work to do right now.”
The Daily Iowan takes an early look at how the Hawkeye roster might shape up in 2013.
“One thing for sure, whoever wins the job will be inexperienced,” Ferentz said. “We think we have three guys on campus who all have the potential to be good players. Now the competition begins.”
That competition is among redshirt freshman Jake Rudock, junior college transfer Cody Sokol, and true freshman C.J. Beathard. None of them saw a snap this season —senior James Vandenberg played every down on offense.
The likely frontrunner for the job as of now is Rudock, who held the No. 2 spot on the depth chart all season. Vandenberg said Rudock has been “groomed for two years” for the job, and he does have impressive credentials. Rudock led his high-school team to an unbeaten season and a Florida state championship as a senior, winning South Florida player of the year honors from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Iowa had a pair of productive sophomore backs this season. But the two never shared a backfield together, as they continually swapped spots on the injured list and the starting lineup.
Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock should both theoretically be back next season, and they would make for a nice one-two punch at running back.
This position might get a little thin next year, as Keenan Davis graduates and leaves sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley as the only consistent proven target. Junior Jordan Cotton will have to step up and provide a deep threat, and true freshman Tevaun Smith saw a few snaps of action this year.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz should also be back after a strong finish to his junior season, and he said he knows Iowa’s pass-catchers need to make more big plays next year.
“There just weren’t enough big plays being made as a group by us,” he said. “If you want to win, you’ve got to make five, six, seven big plays in a game.”
This unit started strong for Iowa but became a major liability as the season wore on. Iowa got no pass pressure and was often pushed around up front on defense. Sack leader Joe Gaglione and tackle Steve Bigach graduate, leaving plenty of question marks at the position.
Louis Trinca-Pasat and Darian Cooper played well at tackle for stretches of the season, and they will be counted upon next year. Defensive end Dominic Alvis will also be back for his senior season.
This could well be the strength of the team next year for Iowa. James Morris, Anthony Hitchens, and Christian Kirksey all were solid performers this season, and all will be back as seniors next year.
Injuries limited Morris at the end of the year, and Hitchens struggled at times in pass coverage, but this will be a talented, experienced unit in 2013.
The Hawkeye secondary was torched down the backstretch of the season, and it loses star cornerback Micah Hyde. The Hawkeyes benched and re-benched safeties numerous times over the final two games, trying five different players at the position. Nico Law and Tanner Miller will have to take major steps forward next year.
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