1) A question of fit — It’s not over. There are five games left. Anything can happen. That said, so far, it’s fair to say that Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg hasn’t been a fit in first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis’ pass offense.
Vandenberg can throw a mean deep pass, let’s say 30 to 40 yards. Davis’ system does the majority of its work in the 5-to-10-yard range. Last week, Vandenberg threw one pass for more than 30 yards and it was a 31-yard completion to Keenan Davis. Against Michigan State, Iowa tried two 30-plus passes and completed one to Davis, setting up the game-tying TD.
Vandenberg has attempted 72 passes in the last two weeks with 56 within 5 to 10 yards.
Asked about Iowa’s penchant for the 5-yard pass, coach Kirk Ferentz said, “It depends on the play. You have some plays that are intended to go down the field, some that aren’t.” And Vandenberg, “Ultimately, short outs aren’t all we want to do, but when people are going to defend us and hold us to 25 yards rushing [Iowa had 20 vs. Penn State], you can’t just chuck it down the field every time. There is a balance that has to be kept.”
At its current level of execution, this shrunken attack needs a Mark Weisman to make it an attack.
2) Not one player, not one coach – The darts have flown Vandenberg’s way since halftime of the Penn State game. That was a total team meltdown that no one walks away from with a clean uniform. When pressed for one positive, Ferentz brought up Jordan Cotton’s 92-yard kick return. No one player well, or at least no one played well consistently.
“I’ll just say this, to evaluate what happened Saturday, any one player’s performance or job status, that would be tough to do,” Ferentz said. “There wasn’t much that went well. To try to say that it was one person or one area I think would be missing the boat.”
Asked if this extended to the coaches, Ferentz said of course.
“The blame, or whatever you want, or responsibility lies at my feet,” Ferentz said. “That’s pretty simple. It always has, always will.”
3) Firesomeone.com and stuff – The FireGregDavis.com URL came up for renewal on Oct. 12. It’s been taken by a company in Scottsdale, Ariz., so easy on the “buying it and selling the rights to the UI” idea. There was, however, precedent for that. Iowa bought the firekirkferentz.com rights from Redshirted.com in 2007. That URL now redirects you to the Hawkeyes’ official site.
Seven games into his first season as offensive coordinator at Iowa, and some opinions have become inflamed. Criticism is fair. Iowa’s offense is 107th in the country in total offense and 103rd in scoring (20.9 points a game, which would be the lowest since bowl-less 2007). College football is big business. Davis is well-paid.
There is an emotional return on investment that many fans, seemingly more and more with every confounding loss, have reached. That comes out in venting and everyone walks away with chest pains.
– Marc Morehouse