Iowa beat up on all of its weaker opponents last season. The Hawkeyes only real quality win of the season came in a big home victory against Michigan. Iowa finished with a 7-5 record. The Hawkeyes were completely overmatched against the faster, more powerful and more athletic Oklahoma Sooners in the Insight Bowl and lost, 31-14.
Iowa finished dead last in the Big Ten in rushing offense with only 1,790 yards on the year. Sophomore Marcus Coker had accumulated 1,384 of those yards in only 12 games, but he was suspended for ‘disciplinary reasons’ and has since transferred to Stony Brook University.
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The Hawkeyes passing game finished fourth in the conference in yards, but it had a pedestrian completion percentage at 58.3 percent. Iowa has the luxury of bringing back their starting quarterback James Vandenberg and wideout Keenan Davis for their senior seasons, but loses its two starting tackles Riley Reiff and Markus Zusevics.
The 2012 Hawkeyes will depend on the arm of Vandenberg, the hands Davis and the hope that Head Coach Kirk Ferentz will be able to replenish the offensive line as he has in previous years.
Kirk Ferentz has been at Iowa for 13 seasons and has compiled an impressive 96-66 record over that span. His abilities are not disputable, but questions arise when discussing the coordinators.
Greg Davis takes over the offensive coordinator role and had previous success as the OC for Vince Young-and-Colt McCoy-era Texas Longhorns. He will have the task of teaching a senior quarterback a whole new system while working with a young offensive line.
Phil Parker steps in as the defensive coordinator. He has been with the team for all 13 seasons with Ferentz as the defensive backs coach. His transition to the coordinator role should be smooth, but he has to find a replacement for stout DT Mike Daniels and experienced CB Shaun Prater, who were drafted by the NFL.
The Hawkeyes will depend on Vandenberg’s throwing abilities again this season to propel the offense. Vandenberg has the skills and is arguably the most effective pocket passer in the Big Ten. He lost the Big Ten’s leading receiver, Marvin McNutt, to the NFL and will lean heavily on Davis to replace that production.
Iowa will need to find a way to be more effective in the running game. Coker was a load to handle, but he is no longer with the team and the Hawkeyes will have to mix and match underclassman to try and find production to take pressure off of Vandenberg.
The offensive line has always been a strong staple of the Ferentz system, but this season he will need to replace both starting tackles, including All-American Reiff. James Ferentz (head coach’s son), will try to anchor the line from the center position. However, this group will be a work in progress all season.
All of these question marks and a new offensive coordinator make Iowa a hard team to like for consistent offense this season.
Iowa brings back leading tacklers Christian Kirksey and James Morris along with senior cornerback Micah Hyde. These three playmakers will keep Iowa close in ball games with their ability to fill the holes in the running game and cover the big-play receiver in the deep game, respectively.
The defensive front loses their three leading sack artists and will depend on three new starters on the line. The seasoned Iowa linebackers will have their hands full covering for the inexperienced lineman.
New coordinator Parker will continue to operate in the 4-3 defensive front but may incorporate more blitz packages due to the lack of experience in the four-man pass rush.
2012 Iowa Hawkeyes Futures Odds
Bovada Sportsbook has Iowa is a 150/1 play to win the national title and at 20/1 odds to win the Big Ten. Neither of these lines should come into play with Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska in the Legends Division with them.
2012 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Schedule
Iowa’s first five games this season will be at home, which will be beneficial as the Hawkeyes are 17-4 over the last three seasons at home.
The first real test of the season will be on Oct. 13 against Michigan State on the road. Their schedule is favorable with the early home games and road games against lesser opponents like Indiana and Northwestern.
I anticipate Michigan seeking revenge for their tough loss last season and expect at least a two-touchdown victory for the Wolverines on Nov. 17, assuming a healthy Denard Robinson is playing.
2012 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Predictions
The 2012 Hawkeyes are a team in transition with new coaches and a lot of turnover on both the offensive and defensive line.
Vandenberg will have to shine in the pocket without his most dependable receiver from last season, without a proven running back to take the pressure off and with a new coordinator calling plays.
Defensively, Iowa has a chance to take a step forward with two experienced playmaking linebackers returning. However, with underclassman on the defensive front, the linebackers will be tested all season.
Iowa may get favorable college football betting lines due to their pedigree and since they have a senior quarterback coming back. However, I believe there will be some value betting against Iowa this season, as the team tries to find it’s new identity after losing it’s top receiver, rusher, sack artists and both coordinators.
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