The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off a hideous 2012 season, finishing the season with a 4-8 record, the first time the Hawks finished with less than six wins since Head Coach Kirk Ferentz’s first season in 2000.
They open 2013 with a long list of question marks, leaving analysts scratching their heads on what to expect from them this year. Most experts believe the Hawkeyes will improve slightly, but time will tell as there will be a lot of new starters this year, but also some veteran players that are hungry to win.
Here are 10 things we know for sure regarding the 2013 Iowa Hawkeyes:
- Kirk Ferentz is entering into his 14th season as the Iowa Hawkeyes Head Coach. Ferentz was recently named one of the “Top 5 Worst Coaches” in the NCAA, by Sports Illustrated. Most analysts feel this is a stretch, but, the fact can’t be ignored the team’s offensive coordinator Greg Davis failed horribly in his first season with the Hawks last year. Watching the Hawkeyes running the offense was comparable to getting a root canal at the dentist. This HAS to change this year or Ferentz could be seeing his last season as Head Coach in Iowa City.
- One advantage the Hawks have this year is the potential to start strong out of the gate as they are home for 4 of their first 6 games. It is crucial to come out of this first stretch with 1-2 losses as it just gets tougher after that.
- USA Today’s pre-season rank of the Iowa Hawkeyes is 69th in the country.
- The last time Iowa won a game was October 13th, 2012, when they beat Michigan State in overtime 19-16.
- The Hawkeyes have 3 Senior Linebackers on the 2013 Butkus Award Watch List. Those players are; Christian Kirksey, James Morris and the most talented of the group – Anthony Hitchens.
- Mark Weisman, who quickly became a fan favorite after a record breaking season as starting FB, is on the Doak Walker Award watch list. The Hawks have traditionally had a strong running game, but the past few years, the running back position has simply become a jinx. Legal problems, cheating and injuries have plagued this position at an alarming rate. Weisman was not spared as he dealt with injuries for most of the season last year. This is the man to watch in 2013; if he can stay healthy, the running game could take on a life of its own and give the Hawks something to build on to get the offense rolling.
- The Hawkeyes had little depth on their team last year. Most positions in 2013, are seeing an improved depth chart, this in itself is something to watch as it could prove important down the stretch with injuries, a problem the Hawks faced last year, with little relief in the way of replacements that matched lost talent.
- The Hawkeyes are in a heated quarterback competition as we speak. James Vandenberg has graduated, and quite frankly, that is a relief to Hawkeye fans, as he did not live up to his potential and was a very skittish, unconfident quarterback to say the least. The Hawks need a shot in the arm and a true leader to steer this ship. Vandenberg just didn’t have it. There are 3 quarterbacks that will be fighting to take Vandenberg’s place, they are; Jake Rudock a sophomore who has not seen any action yet. Cody Sokol, a Community College transfer that was redshirted last year. Sokol is a junior who had a very strong career with Scottsdale Community College. Finally, the third guy trying to win the job is C.J. Beathard who was a Redshirt Freshman last year. Beathard had an impressive High School career in Tennessee and could be the future of the Hawkeyes.
- There are 9 starters returning to the defense. A defense that kept the Hawks in some games last year while the offense sputtered. If the Hawks can improve on the pass rush – this could be a defense people are talking about. It would be in fact, the main base of a team that is struggling to find its identity.
- The receivers are looking good this year if someone can actually get them the ball. The 2013 recruiting class was filled with talented receivers, something the Hawks needed to accomplish in the recruiting process and they did just that.
To conclude: This team is highly unpredictable and this information proves that.
There is potential for the Hawks to really shock some people if they can get a starting QB who is a leader and obviously heavy on talent. The offensive playbook needs a complete re-haul as last year was a joke with 3-and-outs all day long.
The defense has a solid foundation that needs to improve on the pass rush and the coaches need to get with the times and get a modern offense together instead of the old school thinking that has been plaguing the Hawks the past couple of years.
My personal prediction for this team is improvement, but not by much. The key is to win early and to improve and adapt as each game approaches. This is a year to build on as the future is looking up, but, I feel the Hawks will finish 5-7 in 2013 and Ferentz keeps his job.