Thursday, March 31, 2011

Iowa Hawkeyes 2010 Review-By Matt Chandik

By Matt Chandik
2010 season: 8-5 (4-4)
Vs. Eastern Illinois: W 37-7
Vs. Iowa State: W 35-7
@ Arizona- L 34-27
Vs. Ball State- W 45-0
Vs. Penn State- W 24-3
@ Michigan- W 38-28
Vs. Wisconsin- W 31-30
Vs. Michigan State- W 37-6
@ Indiana- W 18-13
@ Northwestern- L 21-17
Vs. Ohio State- L 20-17
@ Minnesota- L 27-24
Vs. Missouri (Insight Bowl)- W 27-24

A year ago, Iowa was living large. The Hawkeyes went 11-2, beat Georgia Tech, 24-14, in the Orange Bowl and had most of their studs returning. 2010 was going to be a great year for Kirk Ferentz’s squad. Ricky Stanzi was going to throw for a million touchdowns, Marvin McNutt and Derell Johnson-Koulianos would catch most of them and Adam Robinson would run behind Ferentz’s latest group of 310-pound wildebeests masquerading as offensive linemen and life would be grand. Stanzi would parlay an amazing senior season into a one-year NFL career before taking over for Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2012 and IT WOULD BE AWESOME BECAUSE RICKY STANZI LOVES AMERICA, DAMN IT!

Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, things didn’t exactly pan out the way they should have. After starting the season 7-2, a loss to Northwestern for the third straight year sent Iowa into a tailspin as they lost their final three regular season games. That streak included an upset loss to rival Minnesota in the regular season finale.

For his part, Stanzi enjoyed the finest season of his career. The senior completed 64.1 percent of his passes and threw 25 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Stanzi eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark with 3,004 and capped it off with his third bowl victory. However, he wasn’t as sharp as he was in his junior season when he earned the reputation as one of college football’s most clutch quarterbacks. He struggled to complete late-game drives, most noticeably against rival Wisconsin.

Robinson was the team’s No. 1 option at tailback, a role he filled admirably until he got suspended for the Insight Bowl and ultimately dismissed from the team. Robinson rushed for 941 yards at 4.64 per and cracked double-digits in touchdowns with 10. Robinson also proved to be one of the Big 10’s best running backs at catching the ball out of the backfield as he snagged 24 catches for 290 yards and a touchdown. Ultimately, though, he proved to be better at being a dumbass than being a football player. He was first suspended for the first quarter of the loss to Ohio State for “academic indigestion”, according to Kirk Ferentz. So he either ate a book that didn’t go down well, inhaled too many chemicals in chemistry class or did something so dumb that Ferentz couldn’t actually think of an apt description, so he took a random word and attached it to “academic” and said fuck it, it sounds good.

Robinson’s suspension for the Insight Bowl and dismissal came after being charged for possession of marijuana in Des Moines. Um, holy fucking shit. Some guy who lives in Iowa wanted to smoke some weed. Clearly, the cop who arrested him couldn’t have lived in Iowa that long. I’m sure merely driving through Iowa wants to make you smoke a kilo by yourself. On the other hand, though, freshman tailback Marcus Coker wasn’t arrested for possession of Mary Jane, so he was the one whom Ferentz turned to in the Insight Bowl. Coker made the most of his opportunity and may or may not still be branding his name on Missouri’s forehead. Coker (with a name like that, you know Ferentz is this close to dismissing him at the slightest sign of an infraction) ran for about what most true freshman running backs run for in their first bowl game- 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s a promising sign for the future of the Hawkeye ground game, though Coker should probably be wrapped in bubble wrap and locked away in a dungeon with armed guards protecting him until the season starts due to the Hawkeyes’ tremendous lack of sheer numbers at running back.

When Stanzi dropped back, he had his pick of good receiving options. When Derrell Johnson-Koulianos wasn’t being arrested for allegedly running drug houses, he was Iowa’s all-time leader in receiving yards. DJK finished second on the team in receptions (46) and yards (745) but led the team in touchdowns with 10 and posted a stalwart 16.2 yards per catch average. Marvin McNutt led the team in receptions and yards and finished second among all Big 10 pass-catchers in receiving yards in conference play. McNutt’s 616 Big 10 yards trailed only Michigan’s Roy Roundtree, but McNutt also didn’t drop 847 passes like Roundtree did, so there’s that. Allen Reisner was the latest in the long line of “How the fuck is that guy always open?” Iowa tight ends. Reisner snagged 42 passes for 460 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On the offensive line, it was an okay year for a team used to better than what it got from the big uglies. Riley Reiff is the latest in a long line of star Iowa offensive linemen. He and guard Julian Vandervelde were named second-team All-Big 10 members by both the coaches and media, and Reiff figures to challenge Ohio State’s Mike Adams as the top left tackle in the Big 10 next year. Iowa ranked seventh in the conference in sacks allowed (20) and average yards per carry as a team (4.3 ypc).

Superstar safety Tyler Sash, also known as Tyler Motherfucking Sash to Iowa fans for his overall awesomeness, was the leader of the secondary and one of the top safeties in the country. Sash, who entered the NFL Draft after a three-year career that saw him pick off 13 passes for an average return of more than 30 yards, is somehow always around the ball. He racked up 79 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one of the coolest moments of the season when he intercepted a Michigan State pass and ran six yards with it before pitching the ball to cornerback Micah Hyde, who raced the remaining 66 yards for a touchdown.

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn entered the season fresh off an Orange Bowl MVP award and garnered hype as the top defensive end in the country. Ultimately, though, Clayborn fell short of expectations. He didn’t have a bad year, but he didn’t have the year that most predicted for him. The senior posted 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss after notching a stellar 11.5-sack, 20-tackle for loss All-America caliber junior year.

As is the mark of any Iowa team, though, the Hawkeyes were stingy defensively. Iowa ranked second in the conference in scoring defense (17 ppg) to Ohio State (14.3) and rushing defense (101.54 ypg), but were only seventh in pass defense (230.5 ypg). On the flip side of that, the Hawkeyes tied the Buckeyes for most interceptions in the Big 10 with 19, four of which were brought back for scores.

While the likes of Sash and Clayborn will be earning NFL paychecks next year (assuming there is football next year), it’s hard to imagine the Hawkeye defense suffering too much. Hyde, sophomore-to-be middle linebacker James Morris (70 tackles, one sack, four passes broken up) and defensive linemen Broderick Binns and Mike Daniels should ensure that the proud Iowa defense remains near the top of the Big 10.

Special Teams
Freshman Michael Meyer, a walk-on, did what seemingly every fucking walk-on finds a way to do at Iowa- he earned a starting job and was actually pretty good at it, too. Meyer nailed 14-for-17 on field goals and 31 of 33 extra points, though one of those missed extra points came back to haunt the Hawkeyes in a one-point loss to Wisconsin. But yeah, of fucking course Iowa’s walk-on kicker kicked nearly three times more field goals than Michigan’s two kickers made combined. Sure, that’s the way it always happens.

Ryan Donohue handled the punting duties yet again, and yet again, he was very good at it. The senior averaged 44.59 yards per punt, a number that ranked third in the conference, and was masterful at putting the ball wherever he wanted to. Iowa ranked second in the Big 10 in opponent punt returns as they yielded a meager 3.9 yards per return and no touchdowns.

Colin Sandeman was the team’s punt returner, but he was just kind of…there. Sandeman didn’t do anything special as he averaged 8.3 yards per return. Tony Montana Jr., er, Johnson-Koulianos, led the Big 10 in kickoff return average at 29.29 yards and torched Minnesota for a touchdown. Then again, these were kids recruited by Tim Brewster, so the validity of the touchdown should be questioned.

Iowa will be hard-pressed to find replacements for everything that they lose. Stanzi, Robinson, DJK, Reisner, Clayborn and Sash are just some of the key players that they lose to graduation, early entry and outright fucking stupidity. Still, it’s Iowa, so they’re going to have their usual assortment of monster O-linemen ready to POUND THE SHIT OUT OF YOU ON POWER RIGHT OUT OF THE I, SON, SO GET FUCKING READY. Additionally, Iowa will somehow find a way to field another top-20 defense without ever blitzing a single time all season, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW NORM FUCKING PARKER ROLLS. He doesn’t need two goddamn feet like you pussies do.

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