IOWA CITY — Straightforward. Down-to-earth. A sense of humor.
That’s usually a good hat trick as far as I’m concerned, and new Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis demonstrated those three things in a press conference Wednesday.
I missed Davis’ introductory press conference here last month because I was en route to the Big Ten basketball tournament. But I’d been told by an Austin sportswriter that the former Texas OC was a good egg. And man, does the guy like to talk football.
Davis seemed honest Wednesday without being blunt. He sees a lot to like about the Hawkeyes’ offensive personnel. Really likes the quarterback, James Vandenberg. Thinks the two healthy returning running backs, Damon Bullock and DeAndre Johnson, will be fine even though they’re young and inexperienced. Sees seven or eight “starters” among the team’s offensive linemen.
Says “I’ve never had a tight end like C.J. (Fiedorowicz) with his size and ability to play at the line of scrimmage and also stretch the field.” And Davis coached Jermichael Finley at Texas. When healthy, Green Bay’s Finley has been one of the NFL’s top tight ends.
The one deficiency he noted wasn’t anything those who follow Hawkeye football didn’t know, but his matter-of-factness in mentioning it was fresh for us media mopes.
“We need to be faster,” Davis said. “We need to be able to stretch the field a little better. There is no question about that. At the same time, there are certain things you can do to help that. Bunch receivers, stack receivers and do some things to gain an advantage. Because sometimes when you get in those sets, they come out of a man look into a zone kind of situation. But one of the things that we’re all aware of is we’d like to have more speed on the outside.”
The thing is, Iowa has always longed for more speed, for a game-breaker or game-changer or whatever you want to call a fast guy who can also catch a football. Marvin McNutt is about to become the first Hawkeye wide receiver to be selected in an NFL draft since Kahlil Hill in 2002, and Hill was a sixth-round pick. But McNutt has gotten there on size and hands and timing, not speed, though he did run a 4.54 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
And that makes Iowa no different than almost every Big Ten program, almost every Northern program.
It has a lot to do with the SEC winning the last six BCS championships. It has a lot to do with Big Ten teams being a little behind the 8-ball so often in Rose Bowls against the USCs and Oregons (and TCU).
It is difficult to change, to get a few burners with offensive play-making skills to join the Hawkeyes. It isn’t as if the Big Ten hasn’t had some great wideouts in the last decade. Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr., James Hardy, Mario Manningham, Michael Jenkins, Lee Evans … Marvin McNutt … pretty good.
I think it does Iowa’s program good for a coach to publicly say the team needs more speed. (It wasn’t as if Davis made a big issue out of it. He was asked about it, answered, and didn’t obsess about it.) Davis’ last job was at Texas, and he was there a long time. You get used to speed when you coach at Texas.
Iowa isn’t Texas. Iowa doesn’t fall into speedy players. It has to, pardon the pun, chase them down. If you can use your Texas ties to help rustle up a few, Coach Davis, well, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.