Before No. 14 LSU (9-3, 5-3) travels to Tampa to tango with Big Ten foe Iowa (8-4, 5-3) on New Year’s Day in the 2014 Outback Bowl, TSD is previewing the Hawkeyes on both sides of the ball.
Soon I’ll take a look at the stout Iowa defense, but now it’s time to turn the microscope on the Hawkeyes’ offense under second-year coordinator Greg Davis.
PROJECTED IOWA STARTING OFFENSE
QB: Jake Rudock (6-3, 205, So.)
HB: Mark Weisman (6-0, 236, Jr.)
FB: Adam Cox (5-11, 215, So.)
WR: Kevonte Martin-Manley (6-0, 205, Jr.)
WR: Tevaun Smith (6-2, 200, So.)
TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz (6-7, 265, Sr.)
LT: Brandon Scherff (6-5, 315, Jr.)
LG: Conor Boffeli (6-5, 295, Sr.)
C: Austin Blythe (6-3, 300, So.)
RG: Jordan Walsh (6-4, 290, So.)
RT: Brett Van Sloten (6-7, 300, Sr.)
Notable Backups: RB Damon Bullock (6-0, 200, Jr.); TE Jake Duzey (6-4, 245, So.); WR Don Shumpert (6-3, 200, Sr.)
NUMBERS TO KNOW
120 – That’s how many points Iowa has scored in the second quarters of its 12 ballgames combined, compared to only 58 combined second-quarter points from its opposition. For reference sake, the Hawkeyes have scored 61 points in the first quarters, 72 points in the third quarters and 68 points in the final frames.
44.8 – That’s the percentage of times Iowa has converted on third down this season (82 conversions on 183 attempts), good enough to rank the Hawkeyes 35th in the country. LSU is the NCAA’s leading team in terms of third-down conversions, moving the chains 58.6% of the time.
16.5 – Iowa only played two ranked opponents in 2013 – versus Wisconsin and at Ohio State. In those two games, both losses, this is how many points the Hawkeyes averaged. In its other 10 games, Iowa averaged 29.5 points.
It’s been a long, winding road for offensive coordinator Greg Davis to land in Iowa City, but the former Tulane head coach and O.C. at Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas is planting roots with the Hawkeyes. In 2013 he pulled the strings on an offense that ranked in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten, gaining steam through junior running back Mark Weisman but still struggling to find consistency and score points against the better teams on the schedule.
Weisman has been the catalyst behind much of Iowa’s offensive successes this fall. The former walkon, who transferred to Iowa from the Air Force Academy (where he didn’t play football), burst onto the scene in 2012, playing both fullback and running back. This season he led the team in rushing for the second consecutive campaign, toting the rock 209 times for 938 yards (4.5 ypc) and seven touchdowns, and is a load at 236 pounds.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock, who does have dual-threat capability, has been up and down in 2013. He’s completed 195-of-324 passes (60.2%) for 2,281 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Rudock also rushed the ball 62 times for 223 yards and five scores. His primary targets are senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (26 catches, 253 yards, 6 TDs) and junior wide-out Kevonte Martin-Manley (39 catches, 384 yards, 4 TDs). Martin-Manley doubles as Iowa’s main return man, and he led the Big Ten and was seventh in the NCAA this season in punt return average (16.2 ypr), also scoring two touchdowns that way.
Up front the Hawkeyes are led by junior left tackle Brandon Scherff, who joined Fiedorowicz as the only two Iowa offensive players to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. Scherff, voted the team’s offensive MVP, is part of an experienced left side, playing next to senior guard Conor Boffeli. The rest of the line features two sophomores and a senior in right tackle Brett Van Sloten. Considering Iowa runs the ball on 60.1% of its offensive plays, look for this group to do more firing out and pulling than dropping back and pass-protecting.
Give us your take on the Iowa offense
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