The is the second part of a three-part series on the Hawkeye football team.
Last week I talked about the offensive line, tight ends, wide receivers and fullbacks. This week I’ll talk about quarterbacks, running backs and the defensive line. I’ll also pick who I think will be the starting quarterback for the Hawkeyes.
No matter who starts at quarterback, Iowa must have a strong running game to set up the play-action pass.
For the first time since Shonn Greene played in 2009, the Hawks should have some talent and depth at running back.
Shonn was an unknown before the 2008 year since he was ineligible in 2007 and Jewel Hampton was a true freshman. They provided a nice one-two punch.
How about Shonn breaking Iowa’s season rushing record with 1,850 yards and touchdown record with 20. He averaged 6 yards per carry.
Jewel ran for 463 yards, seven scores and a 5.1 average.
That’s over 2,300 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Nobody even knew who Mark Weisman (6-0, 235) was last season until he burst upon the scene in the UNI game. He ran for 114 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Mark got nicked up in the overtime win over Michigan State, missed two games, but still led the team with 815 yards, eight touchdowns and a 5.1 average.
Damon Bullock (6-0, 195) started the first three games before going out in the UNI game with a concussion. He played in only six games but still rushed for 513 yards and scored three times. He also caught 18 passes for 167 yards.
Jordan Canzeri (5-9, 192) played in seven games as a true freshman and even started in the Insight Bowl loss to Oklahoma. Jordan had 58 yards rushing, caught six passes including a touchdown pass against the Sooners.
Talk about a nice one-two-three punch.
All of them can catch passes. Mark will run over you, Damon will run around you and Jordan will make you miss.
Michael Malloy (6-0, 215) and Barkley Hill (6-0, 218) both red shirted and will provide depth. Mike almost played last year when Bullock and Weisman got hurt, but is happy he didn’t.
“I’m glad I got to red shirt,” said Mike. “I would have loved to play as well, but I got another year under my belt and can take that experience into the coming up years.”
Mike had a couple of good runs and scored in the spring game.
“The spring game was definitely a confidence-booster,” said Mike, who rushed for 1,668 yards, scored 29 touchdowns and was first team all-state as a junior at Sioux City Heelan. “The line did a great job and I had a chance to get into the end zone for the first time.”
The Hawks signed three freshmen running backs, including LeShun Daniels, Jr. (6-0, 215), Jonathan Parker (5-8, 175) and Akrum Wadley (5-11, 170).
If Iowa has a good year and stays healthy, all three should redshirt, but the way LeShun has been looking at practice and the scrimmage last Saturday, he might play.
The quarterback position is a three-man race between sophomore Jake Rudock (6-3, 205), junior Cody Sokol (6-2, 215) and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard.
Chuck Long, former All-American quarterback for the Hawkeyes, said recently that the quarterback that can move the chains and make the fewest mistakes will be the starter.
I think that will be Jake Rudock.
Jake has been in the new system for two spring practices and before the season starts, two fall practices.
Jake led his high school team to a 41-1 record in three years, 15-0 his senior and sophomore year. He has a strong arm and completed 64 percent of his passes in his high school career, which is a school record.
I also think Jake is a little more mobile than people think.
You go back to Chuck Long, Chuck Hartlieb and Matt Rodgers and none of those three were what you would consider mobile quarterbacks, but all of them were All-Big Ten and still hold most of the passing records.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Cody Sokol stepped in and took over if Jake stumbles.
Cody is a little older coming from junior college and anyone who passes for 3,807 yards and 43 touchdowns, like Cody did as a sophomore, has to have some skills. Plus Cody showed some mobility in the spring scrimmage, running for a touchdown.
C.J. has shown a strong arm and it looks like he and Cody are about even based on the scrimmage Saturday.
The d-line could be the most improved part of the team.
First of all, Reece Morgan will be in his second year of coaching the line and in my opinion, he is one of the best teachers on the staff.
Iowa will also have more experience, talent and depth on the line this fall.
The two-deeps listed so far have 10 players fighting for four positions.
The Hawks plan on an eight-man rotation, so it will be interesting who gets playing time.
Junior Carl Davis (6-5, 310) starts at left tackle. Big Carl stepped up in the spring scrimmage, was in the backfield all afternoon, had a couple of sacks and knocked down a couple of passes.
Junior Louis Trinca-Pasat (6-3, 290), who missed spring drills with a shoulder injury, is the other tackle. Louis started every game last fall and was academic All-Big Ten.
Backups include redshirt freshman Jaleel Johnson (6-4, 310) and sophomore Darian Cooper (6-2, 280), who played in all 12 games with two starts last fall.
“A year of redshirt was really beneficial,” said Jaleel, who was a four-star recruit. “You get so much faster and so much stronger. Chris Doyle (Iowa’s strength coach) is good at what he does and he helps athletes get better. Carl Davis and Darian Cooper also have helped me along the way.”
The defensive ends start out with Dominic Alvis (6-4, 265), the only senior on the d-line.
Dom started all 12 games last year, had five tackles for a loss and three quarterback sacks.
Sophomore Riley McMinn (6-7, 245) is listed as the backup right end.
Sophomore Drew Ott (6-4, 245) and junior Mike Hardy (6-4, 275) are listed even at the left end with redshirt freshman Faith Ekakitie (6-3, 287) as backup.
I like the talent and depth on the defensive line.
Jaleel and Faith were top recruits coming out of high school.
They don’t have to be All-Big Ten, but if they can step up, make some big plays and keep the mistakes down, Iowa should be solid up front.
There is only one senior on the d-line, so the future looks bright for the Hawks.
Next week I’ll finish with the linebackers, defensive backs and special teams.