– Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has as much talent and experience to work with as Iowa has enjoyed in a long time, but a whole lot more pop has to be generated from the nation’s 99th ranked attack. The Hawkeyes had their moments, but they simply didn’t score enough until they ripped up USC for 49 in the Holiday Bowl win.
They didn’t score more than 27 points against anyone but Rutgers in Big Ten play, but that was still almost enough to come up with a huge season – each of Iowa’s three losses came by seven points or fewer.
– Longtime Iowa assistant and defensive coordinator Phil Parker has a bunch of work to do to build back up the nation’s 12th-best defense that allowed just 308 yards and 14 points per game.
How strong was the Hawkeye D? It didn’t allow more than 24 points, and it cave up fewer than 20 nine times.
But now the line needs a bit of an overhaul. It might be a concern, but it’ll be fine with a little bit of time. The same goes for the linebacking corps that’s going to be great – eventually. Losing three starters from the secondary certainly doesn’t help the cause.
– It looked like Maryland had something. It started out the season with 79 points against Howard, which didn’t seem like a big deal until it followed it up with a 63-point hit on Syracuse. And that was about it.
Take out those two games, and the 48-7 win over Rutgers, and the Terps averaged 12.5 points over the other nine games.
There weren’t any third down conversions, the O couldn’t control the tempo, and the offensive line got the quarterbacks crushed. This year’s offense is still undergoing a reboot, and it’s still going to take a whole lot of work.
Enter new offensive coordinators Joker Phillips and Scottie Montgomery, who’ll combine to jump-start the attack with more toughness for the ground game, while also trying to keep the quickened tempo.
– The defense finished dead last in the Big Ten in total and scoring D, but it was really, really young. Three of the top four tacklers are gone, but nine of the top 13 tacklers were underclassmen. However, some of them have bolted.
34-tackle safety Deon Jones left for Boston College, and he’s not alone when it comes to defensive backs leaving. Leading tackler and the team’s top star, Antoine Brooks, is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, and in all, seven defensive backs are transferring out.
On the plus side, many of the top young talents are back, and the recruiting class is supposed to play a role right away. It would help in a big way if it gets help from better play from the defensive front.