Hawkeye offense preps for strides

BY RYAN PROBASCO | JULY 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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CHICAGO — It’s difficult to pinpoint just how long it takes the offensive players to master their coordinator’s schemes and philosophy. In college football — where personnel turnover is continual — the challenge becomes even greater.

As the Hawkeyes enter year two of the Greg Davis era, they’ll try to improve what was the 113th-ranked offense in terms of points-per-game.

Offensive lineman Brett Van Sloten addressed the expectations he has from the returning starters on offense, and he looks forward to erasing the memory of 2012.

“Year two, a lot more is expected of us, not that it wasn’t in year one,” he said. “But we’re ready to get this thing turned around come Aug. 4.

“We’re hungry. A 4-8 season last year was very disappointing, so we’re looking to be more consistent on a daily basis.”

Senior linebacker Christian Kirksey is familiar with his teammates on the other side of the ball. And he was quick to echo Van Sloten’s assertion that they’ll bounce back from a disappointing year.

“They’re making strides,” the native of St. Louis said. “I think our receivers are really going to be great this year. We have a great backfield with Damon Bullock and Mark Weisman. I see that our offense is going to take strides.”

The coaching staff and players didn’t offer many excuses for what went wrong with the Hawkeye offense in 2012. But head coach Kirk Ferentz did mention the uncomfortable situation offensive coordinator Davis was put in as a first-year member of the staff.

In year two, he expects the communication between the staff and players to be significantly better.

“When Greg came in last year, he was new to everything and everybody,” Ferentz said. “If you’ve ever been through that, that’s an uncomfortable thing.

“It’s not an easy process, and I think there’s a much better comfort level with everybody involved. I think things will be a lot smoother.”

Davis recently brought a familiar name back into the fold: Bobby Kennedy, who spent seven seasons as the wide receivers coach at Texas, will take on that same role under Davis for Iowa.

Ferentz believes that addition, plus some added “firepower,” is likely to push the Iowa offense to another level this fall.

“Part of our problem last year is we didn’t have a lot of firepower,” Ferentz said. “You probably noticed that if you watched us. I think we had a pretty good quarterback, but there wasn’t a lot of firepower. So I think we’re a little further down the road that way.”

Former Texas quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy both led their teams to national championship appearances during their second year in Greg Davis’ system. While it’s unlikely this year’s Iowa squad can match that type of success, there’s no question the familiarity Davis has built over the past season will help the progression of the Hawkeye offense moving forward.

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Ferentz said. “But we still have some questions to answer to. And that’s what seasons are all about and how good stories unfold, hopefully.”

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