SI Vault
August 21, 2012
New faces all over the field—and on the sideline—create an air of mystery around a team with very high hopes
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 21, 2012

Iowa Hawkeyes

New faces all over the field—and on the sideline—create an air of mystery around a team with very high hopes











TO CALL THIS A REBUILDING SEASON IN IOWA WOULD BE AN understatement. Just five starters will return on each side of the ball, and both the offense and the defense will be run by new coordinators.

"We're a little bit on the young side, a little bit inexperienced," says coach Kirk Ferentz, "but we've worked hard and handled every step along the way with the right attitude. The trick for us is going to be to keep our foot on the gas."

The changes start on offense. Though quarterback James Vandenberg is back, most of his playmakers are not, including wide receiver Marvin McNutt and running back Marcus Coker, a duo that accounted for 60.2% of the team's total yardage in 2011. Those losses were exacerbated when sophomore running back Jordan Canzeri tore his ACL in spring practice; he is not expected to play this season. Wideouts Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley, the Hawkeyes' second- and third-best receivers last year, will compensate, and several newcomers, including freshman running backs Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill, could be called upon the moment they arrive on campus.

The defense isn't any more established. About three fourths of Iowa's D-line rotation is gone, as is Shaun Prater, the first-team All--Big Ten cornerback who had started 35 games since 2009. Linebacker James Morris, who tied for a Hawkeyes-high 110 tackles last season, and cornerback Micah Hyde, whose 11 passes defended led the team, head up the returning cast. "I know my role as a leader," says Hyde. "[And] I think we're coming together as a team."

Given their youth, there's a strong element of the unknown surrounding these players. Iowa won't be the favorite entering this fall, but with Vandenberg at the helm and a favorable draw, it could finish in the top half of the division—although Ferentz has his sights set much higher.

"If we can show improvement as the season goes on, I think we'll have a chance to have a good football team," he says. "Our goal is to be a championship-level team. That's what we'll shoot for."

It's an ambitious objective that can only be reached one way: Let the rebuilding begin.

the vitals

COACH Kirk Ferentz (14th year) 96--66 (57--47 in Big Ten)

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8