Spartan Nation 2010 Spring Scouting Report: Iowa Hawkeyes

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This final catch gave the Hawkeyes the win last year in the high cathederal and is a great example of Ferentz passion for film.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

This final catch gave the Hawkeyes the win last year in the high cathederal and is a great example of Ferentz passion for film. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Spartan Nation 2010 Spring Scouting Report: Iowa Hawkeyes 

2009 Actual Season Record:Â 11-2 (6-2)

Spartan Nation Predicted 2009 Regular Season Record: 9-3 (5-3) 

Predicted 2010 record:Â 11-1 (7-1)

Projected Big Ten 2010 Standing: 2nd         

Head Coach:Â Kirk Ferentz

What went right in 2009? The defense. Once again the Hawkeye football team had a devastating defense that was built on the principle of being a brick wall. I have said it so many times that I get email every time I repeat it, but Kirk Ferentz in my opinion is the most underrated football coach at any level by fans.

He is the Tom Osbourne of this generation and as good of a man as he is a coach. His teams are schooled in technique and although you may not see them as a Sportscenter highlight every week, they win. In 2009 this group came together fast and heading into 2010 should only be better. Their defense was 3rd in the Big Ten only allowing 200 points. Many of those were from offensive mistakes that gave the opponent great field position.

What went wrong in 2009? The offense. It wasn’t horrendous, but it wasn’t great either. They were in far to many games late that they shouldn’t have been with their defense. Their offense just struggled to score points and was anemic. They were 8th in the conference only scoring 301 points.

Analysis: Ferentz scheme is like the year the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at QB. He asks his offense not to cost him games rather than win them. They were not flawless and did make some mistakes in 2009, but the D bailed them out. Ferentz is a master technician that analyzes everything.

For example let’s look at the Michigan State game from last year. The high cathedral of the Spartan Nation, Spartan Stadium was rocking and it was a night game. The Spartans were on fire and played what many (myself included) feel was their best defensive game. In fairness it was an easier task to accomplish against an Iowa offense, but it still was the reality.

Iowa just kept the game in front of them and refused to break. They took advantage of mistakes by the Spartans and in the end went down the field to the MSU goal line with a chance to win. What happened? Ferentz was aware that the Spartan DL was not coached well by Spartan DL coach Ted Gill on the technique of getting their hands in the air when they couldn’t get to the QB. He called a quick slant over the opposite side knowing that the Spartans couldn’t defend it without DL help and scored.

That TD was NOT the fault of a CB on an island and Pat Narduzzi called the right D if his players had executed it properly. That play is essentially impossible to defend in short yardage without the DL standing up like billboards with their hands in the air. I did question Ted Gill about the hands in the air issue and he told me that, “We are really happy with how we teach and do that.” That was in my opinion the single most baffling comment that I heard from this staff in three years.

He may have been happy with it, but his head coach who is just as much in love with tape as Ferentz couldn’t have been. I would suspect that in 2010 that would be corrected.

The offense was lead by now senior Ricky Stanzi who is the Rodney Dangerfield of Big Ten QBs in that he really gets little respect. I think a lot of people look at highlights, or only the scores and don’t see what he does right.

This team this spring will still have a tremendous OL and is loaded at essentially every spot. This spring is similar to Ohio State in that they aren’t adding a rash of new players with a load of competition. They are refining and not reloading.

Their two biggest games are when they host OSU, a game I think they lose because frankly OSU has better talent. They also host the Badgers in a game that I say is so close, the margin of victory is that they are at home and I think will win.

On Wednesday we will take a look at Illinois.