Aug 23, 2012

2012 Big Ten Previews: Iowa with Black Heart Gold Pants

We’re previewing the college football season with help from SBNation.com. Today, Black Heart Gold Pants discusses the Hawkeyes’ new coordinators and the Iowa RB curse.

Kirk Ferentz enters his 14th year at Iowa with high hopes that the Hawkeyes will return to the postseason for a fifth-straight time. The Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy against rival Iowa State is always a tough game for the Hawks, while Ferentz and company must also navigate key road games at Michigan State (Oct. 13) and Michigan (Nov. 17) before hosting Nebraska on Senior Day (Nov. 23).

2011 Record: 7-6

2011 Bowl: Insight Bowl vs. Oklahoma, 14-31

2012 Bowl Projections:

History in Orlando:

2005 Capital One Bowl vs. LSU, 30-25

Q&A with Black Heart Gold Pants

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Thankfully over.

Which new coordinator ought to have the most immediate impact: Greg Davis or Phil Parker?

The obvious answer here is Greg Davis: Phil Parker is so closely tied to former coordinator Norm Parker that everyone has predicted that there will be no significant change in defensive philosophy, and the Iowa offense has been so stale for so long that a former national championship offensive coordinator can probably do nothing worse than was already being done. But with two weeks to go, it’s starting to look like the big change will be on defense. Gone are the days of cover 2/quarters with three linebackers on the field for every play. Iowa is playing man coverage, running zone blitzes, cover 2 man, cover 1, cover 0. The offense, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out what it’s doing and may spend a decent chunk of the season just learning the Davis playbook and completing check-downs to the tight end. That’s why I’m going to say Parker, at least for the first half of the season.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

It’s got to be Michigan. They’re a veteran team, widely considered a top 20 squad, in Ann Arbor, and with a grudge. Iowa beat Michigan last year on a late defensive stop where our defensive back used some questionable hand placement to break up the pass. I’ve heard it from Michigan fans now for a year, and if their fans are still complaining, the team certainly hasn’t forgotten.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

Best case scenario: The new defense is picked up quickly by the back seven, the passing game finds its form by week two against Iowa State, and the four healthy halfbacks on the current roster remain upright. Iowa wins its first five, splits early October contests with Michigan State and Penn State, and goes to Ann Arbor 9-1. A split of the final two gets them to 10-2 and New Year’s Day in Orlando.

Worst case scenario: Our usual running back luck continues, the passing game never clicks, our offensive struggles on the road continue, and the defense is forced back into a shell just to give the offense a chance to stay in the game. Iowa loses its first two against Northern Illinois and Iowa State, drops contests at Michigan State and Northwestern in October, and the wheels come off the wagon right about the time they hit Bloomington for a November game against a team with a good coach and nearly two years in his system. And an Indiana loss means there are no more wins. The Hawkeyes finish 3-9.

And yes, either of those scenarios is completely plausible. This is a weird Iowa team with an even weirder schedule.

Has Kirk Ferentz considered the strategy of naming an opposing team’s player as Iowa’s top RB, thus ensuring them some type of future catastrophe?

You know, I don’t think he’s considered that. I can see it now: “Iowa Names Burkhead as Starting Halfback,” then further down the page: “Burkhead Tears ACL While Driving Stolen Motorcycle 200 Miles per Hour”. At this point, we’ll try anything.

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