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Iowa offense ready to score

BY JOSHUA BOLANDER | APRIL 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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College football fans are a unique breed. Hearing about new names intrigues them. They enjoy hearing about unusual offensive schemes and will debate their team’s latest two-deeps religiously. 

But what football fanatics really love is watching their team march the ball down the field, when a win is up for grabs, on Saturday afternoons in the fall — and Iowa didn’t do that last season.

Year three of the Greg Davis era on offense kicks off in 128 days against Northern Iowa, and when it does, the former Texas play caller will get his first taste of feeling the five-month-long hot seat that comes along with being the offensive coordinator of the most watched sports team in the state.

Despite a slight improvement from the Texan’s maiden campaign in 2012, the Iowa offense still finished in the bottom third of the Big Ten in six major offensive categories last season, making the coordinator’s first and only press conference of the spring an intriguing one at the Hayden Fry Football Complex.

Red zone an issue

Iowa will score more in 2014.

After finishing with a dismal 80.6 percent conversion rate in the red zone a year ago (ninth in the Big Ten), Davis has made it a point to convert inside their opponents’ 20 yard line at a higher rate when Kinnick Stadium offers up its finest attraction on the final day of August.

“We spent a lot of time in the red zone this spring. We feel like that was an area that we had nine first and goals at the three or less, we scored nine touchdowns," Davis said. “We had nine first and goals at the seven to the nine, and we scored five touchdowns, and that’s not good enough. We spent a lot of time, first down at the seven, eight, or nine this spring working on the best possible way to get the ball in the end zone.”

Rudock the guy (officially)

One thing Davis will have at his disposal is a second-year starter under center. The emergence of junior Jake Rudock will mean that for the first time since working with Colt McCoy at Texas, Davis will have a quarterback will will operate at as the team’s starting signal caller in back-to-back seasons. 

And after tap dancing around playing time for both of his quarterbacks, including who would be more likely to win a game of tag (C.J. Beathard got the nod), the third-year coordinator finally tipped his hand in Rudock’s favor.

“He has a great understanding of everything that’s going on. Nothing rattles him. He handles himself like a quarterback. And he could make all the throws. He’s just got more experience,” Davis said. “We are very pleased with C.J. But, we feel like at this point, Jake is definitely the guy.”

Willies making headlines

While fans of the Black and Gold may already be familiar with the position battles taking place at quarterback, tight end, and running back, redshirt freshman wide out Derrick Willies’ performances this April have him moving up the depth chart just 13 practices into spring ball. 

“Derrick Willies has really had a good spring,” Davis said. “He’s getting more confidence. He had a big day at Valley, and that really carried over to since we left there, and so he’s playing with a lot more confidence. So we’re very pleased with what he’s done.”

Willies’ 6-4, 205 frame should give Rudock another target to air it out to in the red zone, where the Weston, Fla., native threw just 7 touchdown passes in 31 trips last campaign.

“He’s a big-body guy,” said Rudock about Willies. “He can go up and get the ball, which is a real good thing.”


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