IOWA CITY — Everyone has kind of rolled their eyes this spring when Iowa coaches have mentioned the changes in the names of things in Iowa’s offense.
A pass route is a pass route. Hand offs transfer the football to the belly. Quarterbacks throw. It’s not Sanskrit.
Wednesday, first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis rolled through one call. Maybe this is a 2,000-year-old dead language.
“I stepped in one day and said, ‘OK, let’s go 12 personnel, R deuce up bay (maybe?) scat 4-7 fake zero flare flat,’” Davis said. “There’s a rhythm to that call. If you’re stepping into the huddle [as the quarterback] and say, ‘Get that to me again,’ that doesn’t inspire confidence.”
Iowa’s offense is a little bit Sanskrit right now. It also will be missing No. 1 wide receiver Keenan Davis in Saturday’s open scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium (gates open 11 a.m. and action starts at noon). Davis, a senior, will sit out with a minor injury, according to Iowa sports information.
Degree of change has been the major topic regarding everything Hawkeye this spring. The “R deuce flare fake” gives you a little taste.
Davis’ statements on a hurry-up, no-huddle attack, something Iowa dipped its toe in during the ’11 season, were more degrees of change, or, perhaps more accurately, possible opportunities to show something a little different if a game dictates. The closest the Hawkeyes might come to a huddle next fall is a crowded Cambus.
“We’d like to be at a point where we can play a lot of the game in no‑huddle, but how much of that will depend on the opponent,” Davis said. “There are some things you can do in no‑huddle that force the action, force the tempo, change the complexion of a game, change momentum sometimes, which means we’ll be able to jump in it whenever we choose to.”
Davis also talked stacking receivers, moving the tight ends out and into space and developing a running game out of a shotgun set.
“As we said in the offensive meeting, I’ve been very encouraged about the shotgun run game,” Davis said. “Being able to get in the gun and do a lot of the same things that you do from underneath [the center], again, part of that is the game itself that dictates what you’re playing.”
There’s always the caveat. Davis is new here and he’s still figuring out what Iowa’s personnel can and can’t do. Davis’ mission statement during his introductory news conference was Iowa would do what its players can do well.
That stands and here’s what he sees after eight practices:
Davis loves Iowa’s tight ends. He mentioned all of them, but saved the sterling comments for junior C.J. Fiedorowicz, saying “This is only 39 springs I’ve been in and I’ve never had a tight end like C.J. with his size and ability to play at the line of scrimmage and also stretch the field.” Remember, Davis coached Packers tight end Jermichael Finley and Fiedorowicz caught 16 passes in ’11.
“Sometimes guys like that, they’re open when they’re covered,” Davis said. “There have been several times this spring where it’s a one‑on‑one situation, the defensive guy is where he should be, James throws the ball and it’s a completion just because of size and match‑ups.
“There is a term we use with our tight ends, ‘Get big in the paint.’ He knows how to get there and box out backwards and that kind of stuff.”
Davis also has said from day 1 that quarterback James Vandenberg is an asset. He upgraded that to “strong point” Wednesday.
Davis was frank in his assessment of the overall speed of Iowa’s offense.
“We need to be faster. We need to be able to stretch the field a little better. There is no question about that,” Davis said. “At the same time, there are certain things you can do to help that. You can bunch receivers, stack receivers and do some things to gain an advantage.
“. . . One of the things we’re all aware of is we’d like to have more speed on the outside.”
Iowa running back is again in flux after sophomore Jordan Canzeri suffered a torn ACL three practices into spring. Davis said Canzeri was set up to have a good spring. He also said he’s liked what he’s seen out of sophomores Damon Bullock and De’Andre Johnson.
“They’ve got good vision. They catch the ball well out of the backfield,” Davis said. ‘They’ve picked up the passing game extremely well. I think both have had eight good days. I’ve been extremely pleased.”
Davis said he’s closer to knowing what Iowa’s players can do best. Following that, “fake zero flare flat” is probably a pass to Fiedorowicz.