Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CFN's Teams That Will Tumble?

Collegefootballnews.com recently had a post on teams that will tumble in 2009. Some of the teams listed were obvious. No one doubts that Missouri and Texas Tech might enter a quasi-rebuilding phase after losing such stars as Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Graham Harrell, and Michael Crabtree. After I ventured further down the list I was shocked to see the Iowa Hawkeyes on Pete Fiutak’s list.

From CFN:
Iowa Head coach Kirk Ferentz came up with a nice rebound season out
of the blue, but sustaining the success might be hard it he can’t replace the
production in the middle of the defensive line with Mitch King and Matt Kroul
gone. However, the rest of the defense has the potential to be fantastic with
almost everyone else of note returning. Offensively, the most attention will be
paid to the loss of Shonn Greene, but there are good replacements waiting in the
wings. So what’s the problem? The schedule. It’ll be tough to repeat the 9-4
record of last season with road games at Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State
and Ohio State.

Once again, no one doubts that the replacing of Mitch King, Matt Kroul, and Shonn Greene is a tough task. However following the 2007 season, one would have wondered how in the world Iowa would replace an all-timer like Albert Young (3rd in career rushing yards) and his back-up Damian Sims. Well, that problem worked itself out nicely. Additionally, remember when there was ‘no way’ Iowa would be able to replace the 2004 defensive line of Matt Roth, Jonathan Babineaux, Derreck Robinson, and Tyler Luebke? While there was a slight drop off (22 sacks in 04 compared to 15 in 05) Kenny Iwebema, Bryan Mattison, Mitch King, and Matt Kroul filled in adequately. Kirk Ferentz is notorious for his 'next man in' philosophy.

The difference between these two situations and the 2009 team is that those were complete overhauls, with the new starters having very little, if any, game time experience.
The 2009 team, however, returns a lot of experience in the two aforementioned positions. Jewel Hampton is ready to take the running back position and well…..run with it. He already has big game experience under his belt and has hit paydirt seven times in his young career. He will be helped out by redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson, who is said to be developing well in practice.

The defensive line has two key returnees in Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard. Ready to fill in for the departing King and Kroul is a combination of experienced players including: Karl Klug, Broderick Binns, and Chad Geary. Klug already has one Big Ten defensive player of the week honor under his belt. Although Clayborn may be suspended early on (assault charges), I don’t foresee a drastic collapse for the defensive line.

With the rest of the defense being stacked, and the offense having one more year of experience under them, I don’t see CFN’s prediction being accurate. I’ll give them the Penn State and Ohio State game, yeah those will be tough.

As for the other two games, Iowa should have beaten Michigan State on their home turf in 2008. Heading into 2009, the Spartans lose their starting quarterback and most of their offensive production in Javon Ringer.

And the Badgers? Camp Randall Stadium doesn’t scare me anymore after an under-achieving Wisconsin team needed an overtime session to squeak out a victory against division IAA (I refuse to say FCS) Cal Poly at home.
Photos courtesy of espn.com and Matthew Holst/Iowa City Press-Citizen, respectively


  1. Definitely a tough schedule. I agree with you on the Wisconsin game. They are still in the midst of finding a capable starting QB, and Iowa almost always shuts down opponents rushing attacks, which is UW's bread and butter.

    The same goes for MSU...QB questions. That'll surely be settled by Oct.24 though. Still, a winnable game at this point.

    As for PSU, I hate to say it, but I think that'll be a loss for sure. Playmakers are coming back for PSU, and they main Hawkeye ingredients that shut them down last year are gone. A meeting that early in the season will be troublesome.

    As for later in the season, OSU might not pose the same problem. Late in the season, Iowa could enter the 'Shoe on a roll, and if they're able to get some confidence building tough road wins under their belt early in the season, this is a winnable game. Granted, it's a lot easier to be optimistic in March when it comes to college football, but oh well.

    It's nice to be able to have these thoughts though.

    I can't wait for the season to start.

  2. Iowa will have a hard time finishing with a better record than last year's team in the fall of 2009. Losing Greene is a way bigger loss than anyone thinks (Hampton, I don't think, can be an every-down back) and how could the defense be better? Fletcher, King, and Kroul are all gone and both safeties (Greenwood and Sash) are coming off major shoulder surgeries.

    Sure, the linebacking core is terrific, but there has to be concern over inexperienced cornerbacks filling one spot, too. The depth will not be there offensively and even the non-conference games (Arizona) could be tough. I think right now its tough to gauge, but I don't see Iowa finishing better than 9-4 next season.

  3. Finishing better than 9-4 and being a team that will take a 'tumble' is a big difference, imo. I agree it is tough to gauge now, but I see Iowa being 9-4 again or better. I just don't see four regular season losses on the schedule. I'll give ya PSU and OSU. And, then I'll even say perhaps another unforseen loss like Zona at Kinnick or (God forbid) at ISU.

    Where does the fourth loss come from? A still rebuilding Michigan program? An inexperienced MSU team? The struggling Badgers? Unless the fourth loss comes in a bowl game I see Iowa improving.

    Then again its only March, and January 1st seems so long ago already, so I may be overwhelmed with Hawkeye optimism right now.

  4. I agree Dylan. Iowa should win at least nine games. Of course, Iowa's disappointed me before in the last few seasons, but I think Iowa has a ton of talent returning. Greene's a big loss but he wasn't the whole team in '08. Iowa's o-line could be the best in the Big Ten, opening up huge holes for Jewel. I expect big things for the Hawks.