Davis, Parker speak about Iowa football offense and defense

BY BEN ROSS | APRIL 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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The 2013 season is a chance for the Iowa football team to redeem itself for the abysmal performances it put out on the offensive side of the ball in 2012. Iowa scored just 7 touchdowns through the air last season, on its way to winning four games, and averaging 19.3 points per contest — 11th in the Big Ten.

When one takes into account the fact veterans in quarterback James Vandenberg and wide receiver Keenan Davis have departed because of graduation, 2013 doesn’t offer much more hope for offensive-minded Hawkeye fans. Still, Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis claims there are still effective scorers on the Hawkeye roster. 

“I think what you have to do is you have to take what talent is there and try to maximize that,” he said. “So make sure that we’re trying to get the ball to guys that can make plays.”

Looking at the most recent spring two-deeps, there are only three returning starters that scored an offensive touchdown in 2012: receiver, Kevonte Martin-Manley (2), tight end, C.J. Fiedorowicz (1), and running back Mark Weisman (9).

Jordan Cotton demonstrated the ability to make big plays on kick returns and scoring a 47-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker last year, but he stayed on the bench the majority of the season and is buried behind Martin-Manley on the depth chart. Damon Bullock also scored three times on the ground last year, and he should see solid playing time alongside Weisman, whether it is as a slot receiver, or in the backfield.

Quarterbacks still battling

It might not matter if Iowa has a dozen playmakers at receiver or running back if it doesn’t have a quarterback who can get them the ball. As of this week, Jake Rudock, C.J. Beathard, and Cody Sokol are still duking it out in practice to earn the opportunity to be Iowa’s field general in 2013.

Davis said implementing a two-quarterback system was unlikely, and when he faced with a similar situation at Texas in 2006, he had Jevan Snead and Colt McCoy rotate every few offensive series at the beginning of the season. After two games, McCoy won the starting job and went on to become one of the most successful gunslingers in Longhorn history.

The last time Iowa didn’t have a definitive starter at quarterback going into a season was in 2008, when Ricky Stanzi and Jake Christensen battled for four games. After orchestrating a loss against Pittsburgh, Stanzi took the full-time starting duties from Christensen.

Even Iowa’s receivers are unsure of who will be under center come regular season, let alone during practice.

“They all have teen-numbers, so I don’t know who’s throwing me the ball half the time,” Martin-Manley said. “All those guys are getting better. They’re learning. They’re young. They don’t have game experience but they’ll be ready when the time comes.”

No hesitation out of Phil Parker

While the offensive side of the ball may lack established playmakers, the Iowa defense has a handful of players who have made their mark. Senior linebackers Christian Kirksey, James Morris, and Anthony Hitchens — all of whom started together last year — anchor the unit.

The defensive backfield has two returning starters in cornerback B.J. Lowery and safety Tanner Miller. Defensive-back coach Darrell Wilson left Iowa in favor of Rutgers this off-season, but the Hawkeye secondary will have a familiar face replace its former position coach: defensive coordinator Phil Parker, who coached the unit for 13 seasons before being named the coordinator in 2012. He will pull double duty and return to his former position group.

“I didn’t really give it a lot of thought,” Parker said. “I was looking for the opportunity to come back.  So I was pleased to get back there. There was no hesitation for me to go back.”

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