Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hindsight is 20/20

Here I will look back on my Preseason All-Big Ten team and compare it to the actual results.

Offense:
QB: Juice Williams - Illinois
Actual Result: Darryl Clark
This is easily my worst pick. I was really expecting the Illini to bounce back with a 2007ish year. The combination of 4 year starter and a weapon with the talent that Arrelious Benn possesses was just too intriguing. I must have overlooked the fact that this team is coached by the Zooker. Darryl Clark would have been my second choice, however.

RB: Evan Royster - Penn State
RB: John Clay - Wisconsin
Actual Result: Same
'Nuff said. This was a pretty easy projection, and was without a doubt going to be the end result after Jewel Hampton went down with a season ending injury.

OL: Bryan Bulaga - Iowa
OL: Justin Boren - Ohio State
OL: Stefen Wisniewski - Penn State
OL: Joel Foreman - Michigan State
OL: Kyle Calloway - Iowa
Actual Results: Bulaga, Dace Richardson, Wisniewski, Moffitt, and Landolt
I only correctly guessed two of the 5 positions. It was good to see Dace have a huge year after a career plagued with injuries for the Hawkeyes.

TE: Garrett Graham - Wisconsin
Actual Result: Tony Moeaki
Moeaki is easily the most talented TE in the Big Ten, and would have been my choice had you told me he would have an injury-free (for the most part) season.

WR: Arrelious Benn - Illinois
WR: Eric Decker - Minnesota
Decker, Blair White
Benn, like the rest of the Illini, was a major disappointment this year. Blair White had a great year for the Spartans and definitely deserved first team honors.


Defense:
DL: Corey Wooten - Northwestern
DL: Jared Odrick - Penn State
DL: Jammie Kirlew - Indiana
DL: Thaddeus Gibson - Ohio State
Actual: Clayborn, Odrick, Graham, Schofield
This was my second worst projection behind Juice Williams. I am embarassed to not have Adrian Clayborn or Brandon Graham on my preseason list.

LB: Navorro Bowman - Penn State
LB: Pat Angerer - Iowa
LB: Sean Lee - Penn State
Actual: Angerer, Jones, Bowman
I had Sean Lee instead of Greg Jones for MSU. Lee was named second team, while Jones edged him out for first team.

S: Tyler Sash - Iowa
S: Kurt Coleman - Ohio State
CB: Traye Simmons - Minnesota
CB: Amari Spievey - Iowa
Actual: Sash, Spievey, Coleman, Phillips
I got 3 of the 4 defensive backs correct, and I was one of the few who had Sash on his preseason list.

Specialists:
K: Brett Swenson - Michigan State
P: Zoltan Mesko - Michigan
Actual: Mesko, Swenson

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iowa All-Decade Team

After picking up the latest copy of Lindy's preseason college football magazine I noticed an interesting feature they had on the Big Ten All-Decade team. So, I thought it would be a good blog topic to post my University of Iowa All-Decade team.

Notice: These picks do not reflect where a player was drafted or how well they did in the pros. This is strictly based on their college football productivity at the University of Iowa. Also the positions might not always go by strict formatting, for example the first team offensive line has three tackles, one guard, and one center. It just goes by who was the most productive on the line, regardless of interior position. Enjoy!

1st Team Offense:

QB: Brad Banks
This was really a coin flip between Banks and Drew Tate. You could make a good argument for either player. Although Banks was only the starting quarterback for one season you can't argue that he had one of the best seasons for any player in a Hawkeye uniform this decade. He led the supremely talented 2002 squad to an undefeated Big Ten season and championship while throwing for 2,573 yards and 26 touchdowns, not to mention his 423 rushing yards. Banks also garnered more national attention than any other Hawkeye this decade by winning the Davey O'Brien award, being name AP National Player of the Year, and being runner-up for the Heisman trophy. For those reasons he just barely gets the nod over Tate.

HB: Shonn Greene
HB: Fred Russell
The selection of Shonn Greene is an easy one, even though he only started one season this decade. Greene finished the 2008 years with 1,850 yards (second in the nation), 20 touchdowns, a consensus All-American, and won the Doak Walker award. Greene's 2008 statistics were all single season Iowa rushing records. The choice of Russell was a little harder as there have been many talented Iowa backs this decade. Others making viable claims for first team honors include Albert Young (led Big Ten in rushing in 05, 3rd all-time leading rusher) and LaDell Betts (2nd All-Time leading rusher, back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons). Russell barely edges these two out by also having back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons that were more successful than Betts (2002, 2003). Betts also is at a disadvantage having played two of his years in the 90s (1998, 1999).

WR: Maurice Brown
WR: Ed Hinkel
Mo Brown had the most productive season for any wide receiver in this decade by catching 48 balls for 966 yards and breaking the single season receiving touchdowns record in 2002. Hinkel is also a first team'er for his sure hands and solid consistency throughout his four year career.

TE:
Dallas Clark
This is another no-brainer selection. Clark is not only the best tight end for Iowa this decade but one of the best in the NCAA's during that time frame.

OL: Robert Gallery
OL: Eric Steinbach
OL: Bruce Nelson
OL: Marshal Yanda
OL: Bryan Bulaga
I feel like I could run for a thousand yards behind this offensive line. Gallery was all-world during his career at Iowa, having won the Outland trophy. And, Bulaga (with two years eligibility remaining) could be the second coming.

K: Nate Kaeding
Was there any doubt about this one? Nate Kaeding is one of the best kickers in college football history.

1st Team Defense:
DL: Matt Roth
DL: Mitch King
DL: Jonathan Babineaux
DL: Aaron Kampman
Now there is a defensive line that would have any quarterback fearing for his life. Mitch King and Matt Roth provided the intensity and were team leaders during their years in a Hawkeye uniform, while also being extremely productive on the field. Kampman is one of the best ever at Iowa at his position, and Babineaux had a monster senior year after converting from fullback earlier in his career.

LB: Chad Greenway
LB: Abdul Hodge
LB: Fred Barr
Greenway and Hodge are also two all-timers at Iowa. They dominated Big Ten offenses for three straight years as starters. Barr was a four year starter who, while not as spectacular as Hodge and Greenway, had a very productive career for the Hawks. Other contenders included Mike Humpal, Mike Klinkenborg, and Pat Angerer.

S: Bob Sanders
S: Sean Considine
Bob Sanders was an easy selection. Considine was a smart player who often times was the quarterback of the Iowa defense. He was also more productive than other safeties this decade (Marcus Paschal, Miguel Merrick, and Derek Pagal).

CB: Amari Spievey
CB: Jovon Johnson
While Spievey is still a current player he had a solid year in 2008 (66 tackles, 4 Ints) and still has two years of eligibility remaining, including one this decade. He is poised to break out in 2009, and also gets recognition after defensive coordinator Norm Parker said that he may be the most talented corner they've had during the Ferentz era. Jovon Johnson, on the other hand, was very productive during his four year starting career at Iowa, including 16 career interceptions.

P: David Bradley
Bradley barely gets the nod over current punter Ryan Donahue.


What picks do you agree with? Disagree with? Who was snubbed? Who was overrated? And, finally who was the best player for Iowa this decade? (Greene, Gallery, Banks, Sanders, Greenway, Hodge, or Kaeding?)

Monday, June 15, 2009

2009 Preseason All-Big Ten Team

After a month hiatus I'm back with my first Road to the Rose Bowl blog of the summer.

Today I give my preseason All-Big Ten first team. This will be interesting to look back on come December/January, when I can come back and see how accurate my picks were, or face the far more likely scenario of seeing just how 'full of you know what' I am.

Anywho, without further ado:

2009 Preseason All-Big Ten 1st Team

Offense:
QB: Juice Williams - Illinois
This was a hard choice, and a pick that could take some flack. It's either all or nothing for Illinois in 2009. Everyone knows the story on the Fighting Illini, they are loaded with talent on paper, but can't seem to translate that into on the field W's. I believe the 2009 Illini squad will more resemble the 07 squad (not quite that successful, however) than the freefall that was the 2008 team. Juice will be relieved of some of the pressure this year as he now has two experienced players in the backfield in Daniel Dufrene and Jason Ford. Juice also has the luxury of throwing to arguably one of the most talented returning wide receivers in the country in Arrelious Benn. I look for the Illini to return to having a winning record, and in the process Williams should put up lofty numbers in his senior year.

RB: Evan Royster - Penn State
RB: John Clay - Wisconsin
Running back was a major strength for the Big Ten in 2008 and although the conference loses the likes of Shonn Greene, Javon Ringer, Beanie Wells, and Tyrell Sutton----the cupboard is not bare. Amongst the aforementioned stars Evan Royster put up a quiet 1,236 yards and 12 touchdowns. Royster should put up similar or better numbers this year. Wisconsin's Clay had a strong first campaign in 2008 and will put up much better numbers in '09 as he becomes the feature back after RB P.J. Hill decided to forego a year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft (reasons unknown).

OL: Bryan Bulaga - Iowa
OL: Justin Boren - Ohio State
OL: Stefen Wisniewski - Penn State
OL: Joel Foreman - Michigan State
OL: Kyle Calloway - Iowa
The Iowa offensive line should be one of the tops in the nation, anchored by Bulaga and Calloway. Wisniewski and Foreman should have solid years on the offensive front while former Michigan transfer Justin Boren should have an immediate impact for his new team the Ohio State Buckeyes.

TE: Garrett Graham - Wisconsin
Graham should have a good year if Wisconsin can find a reliable quarterback. But, watch out for the oft-injured Tony Moeaki who could finally have a breakout year---barring injury.

WR: Arrelious Benn - Illinois
WR: Eric Decker - Minnesota
These are really no brainer picks as Benn and Decker are not only the top two WRs in the Big Ten but also amongst the best in the country.

Defense:
DL: Corey Wooten - Northwestern
DL: Jared Odrick - Penn State
DL: Jammie Kirlew - Indiana
DL: Thaddeus Gibson - Ohio State
Gibson is the Buckeye's returning sack man having registered five in 2008. He should increase the number in 2009 as he begins to maximize his potential during his junior campaign. Kirlew and teammate Greg Middleton could be bright spots on an Indiana team that should see its fair share of gloomy moments this season.

LB: Navorro Bowman - Penn State
LB: Pat Angerer - Iowa
LB: Sean Lee - Penn State
It feels weird not seeing James Laurinaitis on this list, but after his seemingly decade long run of dominating Big Ten offenses, Laurinaitis is finally in the NFL. Which opens up preseason and postseason accolades for other Big Ten linebackers. It is hard to leave Michigan State's Greg Jones off this list but he just barely gets bumped to the second team. Angerer led the Big Ten in interceptions (5) as a middle linebacker last season. Bowman was the conferences best tackler and his teammate Lee missed all of 08 after getting injured in the spring. Lee, the most hyped of all, should have a monster year if he can return to pre-injury form.

S: Tyler Sash - Iowa
S: Kurt Coleman - Ohio State
CB: Traye Simmons - Minnesota
CB: Amari Spievey - Iowa
Iowa's defensive backfield should be solid with two first team all-Big Ten'ers in Spievey and Sash. Sash tied teammate Pat Angerer for the Big Ten's lead in intereceptions with five. While Spievey (second team all-Big Ten last season) is set to break onto the national scene in 2009 after having four interceptions and improving every game in 08. Simmons returns to the Gophers after being a second team selection last year. While Ohio State's Coleman need to play an even bigger role on the OSU defense that loses plenty of stars to the NFL, including cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.

Specialists:
K: Brett Swenson - Michigan State
P: Zoltan Mesko - Michigan
KR: David Gilreath - Wisconsin
PR: Ray Small - Ohio State

Monday, May 11, 2009

Final Project: Top 5 Iowa JUCO Transfers

The topic of my final project was University of Iowa football players transferring to Iowa Central Community College, and then back. So, that got me thinking, who are the best Ferentz-era junior college transfers to ever grace a Hawkeye jersey?

There have been many talented players to end up at Iowa via the JUCO route. Which is surprising since Ferentz rarely ever recruits from the JUCO rankings. So, without further ado, here are your top five Ferentz-era (1999-Present) transfers:

Honorable Mention:
Amari Spievey

I didn't include Spievey in the top five since he is a current player. Spievey has definitely shown flashes of greatness throughout his brief Iowa career and could, eventually, be near the top of this list. Spievey was a redshirt freshman for Iowa in 2006 before transferring to Iowa Central Community College in 2007. Spievey was a beast, as expected, in the JUCO ranks racking up seven interceptions including two for touchdowns. He also scored on two kickoff returns and blocked four punts. After returning to Iowa City, Spievey didn't slow down a bit. In 2008, he recorded 66 tackles and had four interceptions including an explosive 55 yard INT return against Minnesota.

5. Nathan Chandler

Chandler didn't do anything special. But, he also didn't do anything wrong. What he did do was win. With Chandler under center, as a senior, the Hawkeyes went 10-3. Chandler saved his best for last by going 13-25 with 170 yards and 1 TD and no interceptions in a 37-17 blowout against a Ron Zook coached Florida Gators team. This was Iowa's second of three straight ten win seasons. Chandler was a community college All-American before transferring to Iowa.

4. Clinton Solomon

Solomon faced academic problems following his freshman season at Iowa. During his freshman campaign he had only 14 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown. Solomon would later transfer to Iowa Central Community College in order to get his grades back on track. At ICCC Solomon had 34 catches for 537 yards and five touchdowns.

“We are a heavily run-oriented team, so for him to put up those kind of numbers
in our offense just shows the athletic ability he had,” Iowa Central coach Kevin
Twait said. “He made some incredible plays for us. He was really a difference
maker.”

Twait still recalls a game against Ellsworth Community College,
no six years later, where Solomon had three receiving touchdowns and took the
game over.

“We would have not won that game without him,” Twait said.
“In fact, we probably would have dropped a couple more games that season without
him.”
Solomon only improved after returning to Iowa and turned into an all-time great Hawkeye receiver. He finished his Iowa career with 118 receptions for 1,864 yards and 14 touchdowns. This places him fourth in career touchdown receptions and seventh in career receiving yards.

3. Marshall Yanda

Marshal Yanda played two seasons at North Iowa Area Community College before joining the Hawkeyes in 2005. Yanda immediately made in impact and was one of the anchors of the Iowa offensive line. In fact, Yanda played so well he was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Yanda has since earned a starting spot and is one of the key elements of the Ravens offensive line heading into the 2009 NFL season.

However, the best thing about Marshal Yanda is that he knows how to hit. Yanda is the owner of one of my favorite blocks in Iowa football history. And yes it helps that the guy he hit was a Cyclone. He Rashawn Parker, welcome to the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry:













2. Shonn Greene

Greene just keeps showing up in this blog. There's not a whole lot more that needs to be said, as everyone knows the Shonn Greene story by now. He's everyone's favorite furniture mover turned Doak Walker award winner. Greene isn't a 'true' JUCO transfer, however, after facing academic troubles Greene transferred to Kirkwood Community College and only took classes. After a year out of the game he returned with a vengeance, rushing for 1,850 yards and 20TDs and won the Doak Walker as the nation's best running back. Since then, he was drafted by the New York Jets in the third round (1st pick).












1. Brad Banks

Brad Banks is a Hawkeye legend. Banks was one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks in Iowa history. Although, he may not have been the pure passer that the Chuck's were (Long and Hartlieb), he made very few mistakes. Banks exploded onto the scene in 2002 after sitting a year behind Kyle McCann (I know, right?). As a senior, Banks was 17-294 with 2,573 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He was also the leader of the incredibly talented 2002 Iowa team. Banks helped lead the Hawkeyes to the 2003 Orange Bowl and a 10-2 overall record. He was rewarded for his season winning the Davey O'Brien award (nation's best QB) and was named the Associated Press Player of the Year. Banks was also runner-up for the 2002 Heisman trophy (Carson Palmer).

Before Iowa, Banks was enrolled at Central Florida University as a freshman. He later transferred to Hinds Junior College after his freshman season, and later the University of Iowa.













Photos from: Spievey: CR Gazette; Nathan Chandler: Getty Images ; Clinton Solomon: hawkeyesports.com ; Marshal Yanda: Quad City Times ; Shonn Greene: smu.edu/doakwalker ; Brad Banks: Getty Images

Thursday, April 30, 2009

3 Big Ten Players Named to College Football Hall of Fame

Three Big Ten players, including one Hawkeye, have been named to the 2009 Hall of Fame class.

The three Big Ten-ers named to the Hall include: (from ESPN.com):

Chris Spielman, Ohio State, linebacker (1984-87) --
Two-time first team All-America selection (1986-87) who was unanimous in 1987
and consensus in 1986. The recipient of the 1987 Lombardi Award, he was a
three-time first team all-conference selection and a member of two Big Ten title
teams.

Larry Station, Iowa, linebacker (1982-85) -- Two-time
first team All-America selection (1984-85) who was unanimous in 1985, consensus
in 1984. A three-time first team all-conference selection, he was named team
captain and MVP in 1985. Iowa's all-time leader in tackles with 492, Station
topped the team's tackles chart in all four seasons and recorded 10 or more
tackles 23 times.

Curt Warner, Penn State, running back (1979-82)
-- Named first team All-America in 1981 and led Penn State to 1982 national
championship. Most outstanding offensive player in 1980 and 1982 Fiesta Bowls.
Finished career with 11 season, 10 career, 14 bowl and 42 school records

Chris Spielman personifies intensity. Nevermind his playing career, I was ready to induct him into the Hall after his magnificent job calling the 2006 Outback Bowl. If you don't remember that game, it was, and I hate to blame things on officials, the worst referee'd game I've ever seen.

Flashback: With under two minutes left Iowa recovers an onside kick, to set-up a potentially game-tying drive. Wait...flag...Greenway was offsides. On second thought, no he wasn't. On third thought, Conference USA referee's should never officiate big time bowl games again. But, in relation to Spielman, he called the game and was barking at the refs the whole broadcast (this was only one amongst numerous bad calls). Oh, and he was a pretty damn good linebacker too.

Who tops Iowa's all-time leading tackles list? Abdul Hodge? Nope (3rd) Chad Greenway? Nope (5th) Sitting atop the list of all-time great Hawkeye linebackers is Larry Station. His 492 career tackles are 27 more than second place.

And, how did it take Kurt Warner this long to get in? He's a two time NFL MVP, has won a super bowl...and after many counted him out age-wise, he led the Arizona Cardinals to the 2009 Super Bowl. The man has done it all. Oh....wait, thats right he played for UNI. Different Curt Warner? Oh well, he was pretty good too.

Congrats to all the 2009 inductees, for a full list of the new entrants into the Hall click here.

Indiana's Lewis Kicked Off Team

ESPN's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg reported yesterday that former quarterback and briefly turned wide receiver Kellen Lewis has been dismissed from the Indiana football team.

Things have turned from bad to worse for Lewis, who lost his starting quarterback gig to teammate Ben Chappell earlier this spring. I did a blog post earlier this year on Lewis' switch to wide receiver and seriously questioned Hoosier coach Bill Lynch's move.

Obviously there was something that the public wasn't seeing. Perhaps Lynch no longer trusted Lewis as the leader of his team, after such violations. Lynch wouldn't release any details on why Lewis was dismissed from the team besides that he violated 'team rules'. This is his second such offense after being suspended last spring for the same vague offense.


This is a huge blow to the Hoosier team. It was doubtful that Lewis was going to make same impact at wide receiver as he did at quarterback, but the fact remains that Kellen Lewis was a playmaker. In just 2007, he was a second-team all-Big Ten quarterback. He also led the Hoosiers to their first bowl game in 14 years.


Chalk this up to another wasted Big Ten talent due to off-the-field issues.
Photo from heraldtimesonline.com

Purdue Possible Destination for Former Miami Quarterback

As reported by ESPN's Joe Schad, Purdue is the preferred destination of former Miami quarterback Robert Marve. Amongst his other choices are Arizona State, South Florida, and Nebraska. Currently, Purdue is at the top of his list.

Marve would be a huge addition to the Boilermaker's roster. Of course, he would have to sit out the 2009 regular season, but beyond that, I see him being a three year starter in West Lafeyette.


Marve struggled through his freshman season at Miami and eventually lost his starting job to fellow freshman Jacory Harris. Marve's 2008 stats were: 116-213 1,293 yards 54.5% 9 TDs 13 Ints


Marve has decent size at 6'2" and 210 pounds and would fit in well at Purdue, should they continue Joe Tiller's pass-happy offense under new coach Danny Hope.

Although Marve didn't live up to all the expectations in his first year at Miami he still has tons of potential. He was a four star recruit coming out of high school and the tenth best quarterback prospect in the 2007 class.
Photo from Doug Benc/Getty Images North America