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Iowa football: Ferentz reflects on season, supports Greg Davis

[ 0 ] November 28, 2012 |

Iowa City, Ia. – Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday that a change in offensive coordinators isn’t the cure for an offense that this season ranked as one of the school’s worst during the past decade.

“I think Greg (Davis) is an excellent football coach,” Ferentz said during a 45-minute season wrapup press conference. “He’s a tremendous professional and a tremendous person, so I’ve got every bit of confidence that Greg will be in.”

Iowa’s 310.4-yard offensive average was its worst since 2000 in Davis’ first season at Iowa.

“Greg’s a tremendous football coach,” Ferentz said. “We wouldn’t have brought him here 10 months ago if we didn’t feel that way.

Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes finished the season with a 4-8 record, losing their last six games. (Bryon Houlgrave / Des Moines Register)

“I feel stronger about the kind of coaching person he is now after working with him.”

Transcript: Kirk Ferentz’s press conference on Wednesday

Ferentz said other aspects of the program that went 4-8 and lost its final six games are under review.

“We’re 48 right now, so I think we have to be open to everything — be it staff, players, where guys lineup, all those types of things,” Ferentz said.

When asked directly if he planned staff changes for what will be his 15th season at Iowa, Ferentz said:

“It’s not something typically you make a rash decision on. It’s things that you have to look at, and I think you have to look at how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. We’ve got good people on our staff — and good coaches.“The majority of these guys were here in 2008 and 2009. It’s not like we’ve got a bunch of dumbbells here.

“They did a good job of carrying me during that period, so hopefully we can get back to that point.”

He said he hasn’t heard if any of his coaches are in line for other jobs.

“But you just never know,” he said. “There is no way to predict that. We have guys that may have opportunities. We’ll just see how that plays out.

Ferentz said he’s not planning a major strategical overhaul.

“If you break it down with all the eight losses, it’s really where our focus is right now,” Ferentz said. “In two games (Penn State and Michigan), we were never really competitive. That’s disappointing.

“We had six games that we lost by an average of 4 ½ points … but we’re not in the excuse business.

“We’ll try to move forward and see if we can’t do things a little bit better.”

He’s going to try to do that mostly by improving on what Iowa already does.

“It’s not what anybody wants to hear, but it’s a matter of getting back to basics and doing the basics better,” Ferentz said. “Usually the answers aren’t calculus equations. It’s a matter of doing things better on a more frequent basis, and that’s the challenge ahead for us.

“I’m not going to try to spin that. It’s like saying there isn’t a, what, $15 trillion deficit? There is one, and it ain’t going away. We’ve got to knock our deficit down, realize there is one, and work on it.”

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A LOOK BACK AT THE SEASON

LOW POINT: From a game standpoint, clearly the 32-31 loss at home against Central Michigan was the most head-scratching. A successful Chippewas onside kick that Iowa players watched bounce past them led to the winning field goal with 42 seconds to play. “It’s just stupid football,” Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde said. The Hawkeyes provided false hope with wins against Minnesota and Michigan State, and then came the collapse: A season-ending six-game losing streak. The Central Michigan loss was low; the six-game losing streak for a program that played in the 2009 BCS Orange Bowl was lower.

COULD HAVE USED: Two words – An Offense. Fans clamored for coordinator change, and they got it. The style Greg Davis used during his successful years at Texas included quarterbacks who could also run, and speedy receivers who could get open down the field. He had neither at Iowa – there were no receiver matchup nightmares for opponents — and the program suffered. The passing offense of 187.4 yards a game was the Hawkeyes’ third-worst average since 1999. The seven touchdown passes in 12 games was the fewest six in 1999.

OFFENSIVE MVP: Iowa was forced to find a running back after Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon went down with injuries during a 27-16 victory against Northern Iowa. Cue the beginning of the Mark Weisman Express. A converted fullback whose football career started at Air Force, the 6-foot, 235-pound sophomore was the Hawkeyes’ only offense. He powered onto the scene with a 24-carry, 113-yard performance against the Panthers, ran for 217 yards in the loss against Central Michigan, had 177 in a win against Minnesota, and just when fans got excited – injury. Weisman sprained an ankle while scoring the tying touchdown during regulation of Iowa’s double-overtime win against Michigan State, and the Hawkeyes responded by losing the next six games.

DEFENSIVE MVP: This is a tough call between linebacker Anthony Hitchens and cornerback Micah Hyde. Statistically, Hitchens probably comes out on top, his 124 tackles led the Big Ten Conference and his 11.3 average a game ranked fifth nationally. However, Hyde had an interception, he broke up 14 passes, recovered three fumbles, and forced two, so he’s the choice here. The senior added 78 tackles. He had the better all-around season — by a smidge. That’s why Big Ten coaches picked him the conference’s top defensive back.

REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: Iowa was a solid team when Weisman and offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnel were healthy. That changed noticeably when they weren’t. Weisman gained considerable ground while running left – behind Scherff. The Hawkeyes controlled the ball, but without them, they didn’t. So where’s the optimism: Weisman, Scherff and Donnal return for next season.

REASONS FOR PESSIMISM: Guess who was the only team in the nation that had just one quarterback taking all the snaps, discounting the Syracuse backup who played only while the starter had helmet problems? That would have been fine if Vandenberg wasn’t a senior, so what that means now is that an untested quarterback will inherit a sub-par offense and a six-game losing streak. It could be Jake Rudock, who was listed a distant No. 2 on the depth chart. It could be transfer Cody Sokol. It could be freshman C.J. Beathard, who redshirted this season. That competition will make spring and fall practices interesting.

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WHAT’S BACK

Rushing yards

Returning: 83.2 percent | Departing: 16.8 percent

Passing yards

Returning: 0 percent | Departing: 100.0 percent

Receiving yards

Returning: 72.6 percent | Departing: 53.4 percent

Scoring

Returning: 84.5 percent | Departing: 15.5percent

Tackles

Returning: 76.6percent | Departing: 23.4 percent

Sacks

Returning: 53.8 percent | Departing: 46.2 percent

Tackles for loss

Returning: 69.8 percent | Departing: 30.2 percent

 

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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