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Dolphin optimistic about Hawks

BY JOSHUA BOLANDER | APRIL 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Daily Iowan sat down with the ‘Voice of the Hawkeyes’ Gary Dolphin to talk about this year’s Spring Game.

The Daily Iowan: Gary, you have been around the team a lot this spring. Anything jump out to you during the Spring Game on April 26?

Gary Dolphin: I don’t think Coach Ferentz or Davis wanted to tip their hand too much to the spies in the stands about what’s coming this fall in conjunction to an improved passing game. Defensively, I thought the new linebackers gave a very good account of themselves; they are certainly deep in that position even though they don’t have a lot of starts.

The secondary gave a really good account of itself, too. I thought the offense owned the game early, but the defense came on. We know what the defensive line can do. I’m really excited for Carl Davis; I think he’s going to have a knockout senior year. 

DI: We know about all the higher-profile position battles. Anything going under the radar this spring?

Dolphin: The major concern right now after [April 26] is who the placekicker is going to be. Who is going to be the one who steps up and kicks that clutch 3-point score at the end of the game? Who is going to make that kick deep in the forth quarter or in certain tough weather conditions? Mike Meyer is a big loss, no doubt about it, a record-setter. 

DI: Year Three of the offense under Greg Davis coming up. What are you looking to see out of his unit come fall?

Dolphin: I expect to see a lot more. I expect a lot of 20-plus-yard plays. You know, there is a reason they redshirted three guys in particular, [Derrick] Mitchell, [Andre] Harris, and [Derrick] Willies last year. They wanted to give them a season of seasoning to learn Greg Davis’ system. Willies has big-time written all over him, especially when you throw those guys in the mix with Kevonte [Martin-Manley], Tevaun Smith, and Damond Powell. 

Whether it’s the third year or the first year, you still have to have the personnel to employ the offense, and frankly, Iowa hasn’t had all the bullets in the chamber it needed for that passing game. I think they are there now. 

DI: Iowa will have to replace more than 1,000 career tackles at linebacker. What have you seen from Iowa’s newest group of guys this spring that makes you think they will be OK?

Dolphin: I definitely think they will be OK. Alston has been in the system for four years; he just needs to get out there and play now. We know he can play. We know he can hit. You know, his backup Laron Taylor showed me something on [April 26], too. Reggie Spearman played a lot last year. He’s built like Christian Kirksey. He plays a little bit like Christian Kirksey. He’s going to be that much better. That experience last year is going to be invaluable for him.

What will really help the linebackers this year is that front four. It’s salty. It’s been in place for a year or two. When you think about Carl Davis, he looks as good as any player on the field right now. He’s poised to have an All-Big Ten season. 

DI: We will wrap things up with this, Gary. Make a case for Iowa winning the Western Division this year, and if the Hawkeyes were to struggle, what would be the reason?

Let’s go in reverse order. A.) If Iowa struggles, it would be because the passing game didn’t develop like they thought it would. B.) If Iowa doesn’t get it done defensively, I think it will be because the secondary needs more time to grow up. I’m very optimistic on both fronts, though.

As for why Iowa can win the Big Ten Western Division. I just think it’s a wide-open division. Obviously, you have Nebraska, which is good, and Wisconsin is always good, but there is no dominant team in the West. Michigan State won the Rose Bowl but it plays a lot like Iowa. It plays the game with tough defense and solid special teams’ play. I just think it’s a very balanced, wide-open division, and Iowa has as good a shot to win it as anybody. 


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