IOWA CITY — It’s a simple question, but the answer, as you can imagine, comes with layers.
When Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg surveys the field before a snap, what is he looking for and has that changed under first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis?
First, the answer needs to be strained through the down-and-distance meter. In the short passing game, it has to be a quicker decision.
“Coach Davis always talks about eliminating as many things at the line of scrimmage as possible,” said Vandenberg, whose numbers are what you’d expect them to be for an offense that has scored one TD in two weeks. “You want to rule out all the places you can’t go. In the quick [passing] game, you rule out 95 percent of it and you’re playing something that you’re pretty sure is going to happen and if it doesn’t, the ball has to come down.”
On a third-and-long, when Vandenberg looks at the field, he’s not checking much off the list. He notes the coverage and might start to edit out receivers given where the safeties shade, but he’ll keep everyone in mind because the Hawkeyes need the yards.
“You’re trying to play all of your options and buy as much time as you can,” he said. “Different plays call for different things, but basically, you try to eliminate what you can at the line of scrimmage.”
Coach Kirk Ferentz said Vandenberg always has options when he breaks the huddle.
“There are things he looks for that tell him where to go,” Ferentz said. “There are more options when you have one read and one or two options off of that. It’s complex, but that’s not new for us.”
So, that’s kind of what’s going on in Vandenberg’s head when he looks over a defense.