Sometimes pictures really are worth more than 1,000 words. I submit the above photo.
It wasn’t a tooth-and-nail battle royale between quarterback James Vandenberg and first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis, but this April photo from spring practice does illustrate the state of Iowa’s passing offense in 2012.
One guy pointing one way and the other guy pointing another.
After the Nebraska loss, Vandenberg gave his thoughts on expectations and what might’ve happened. So one more time and then next week we’ll start some “four downs” looks ahead.
“I think the outside world is a little harsh in general,” Vandenberg said after the Hawkeyes’ season finale. “They give you way too much praise when you’re doing well and throw you to the ground as soon as you’re doing badly. That’s expected.
“I think everyone kind of thought it was going to be easier than it was with coach Davis. I think he learned a lot. I know I certainly learned a lot. I think as an offense we learned a lot. We’ve got a lot of guys who played this year who are going to be able to come back. We’ve got a lot guys who got their first real experience in Big Ten games. I think we’ve got seven O-linemen now who played this year and that’s certainly a positive, to get that, you can’t put a price on experience.”
Vandenberg also talked about the three QBs — Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard — who’ll be in contention for the job this fall.
“Jake’s been here for two years, he’s kind of been groomed,” Vandenberg said. “He came in and attached to me. I think a lot of people would say he’s pretty similar to me. He’s a great guy, works very hard, very talented.
“You’ve got Cody, who just transferred from juco and who is, when you think about it, the oldest and most mature guy in that room, but has only been with us for a semester and a half now. He’s still learning, but has a lot of talent.
“And then C.J., he has no idea what he’s doing yet, but you can see his natural talent. He can really throw the ball.
“All three guys are good players and great guys, hard-working guys who show up everyday. I have a lot of confidence in them.”
For better or worse, Vandenberg and Davis were joined at the hip in 2012. Vandenberg has his sights set on medical school. He’ll play in a college all-star game later this month. He’ll give the NFL a shot.
Davis is in Iowa City. His name is not one of the names that have been rumored for departure from the coaching staff (of course, you know that wide receivers coach Erik Campbell is out).
The storm around Iowa’s passing offense will continue until it shows it can work somewhat consistently.
“I think as a player or a coach, especially if you’ve had success, you know that recipe for success,” Vandenberg said. “Whether you’re scoring 60 points a game or kicking one field game, you stick to the plan.
“He’s 61-years-old, he’s won a national championship. He’s had the top offenses in the country several times. They guy knows what he’s doing. He knows how to win, he knows how to score points. But you’re going to have some tough times.
“I fell into the trap. Come in and, ‘hey, this guy. We’re going to score 60 points a game.’ That’s not how it works when you’re playing Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue. You’re playing good teams that are trying to win, too.
“I don’t see him changing at all. He’s a stubborn guy who’s stuck in his ways. I think I love that about him. Obviously, I’m gone, but I think the guys who will be here have a lot of confidence in him.”
What didn’t we see that we might see next season?
“We didn’t produce enough big plays this year, for a million different reasons. From the young receivers to the banged up linemen. We played three games in crazy conditions. But now you return four or five linemen with great Big Ten experience. You return four receivers who played a lot. You return four or five tight ends. You can’t put a price on that experience and what it can do for guys.”
Big Ten Polling Place: With bowl season complete, six Big Ten schools received votes in the final Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls, while four teams appeared among the top 25. The Big Ten and SEC were the only conferences to feature four or more top-25 teams in the final polls . . .
Northwestern Records First Bowl Win Since 1949: Northwestern set a bowl record with four interceptions on the way to a 34-20 victory over Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, the Wildcats first bowl triumph since the 1949 Rose Bowl Game . . .
Michigan State Claims Second Straight Bowl Triumph: Michigan State won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 2001 season as senior kicker Dan Conroy hit a 47-yard field goal with just over a minute left for a 17-16 victory over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl . . .
O’Brien Named National Coach of Year: Penn State’s Bill O’Brien was named the Maxwell Football Club (MFC) Collegiate Coach of the Year, the second straight year a Big Ten coach has been honored . . .
Big Ten Players Earn National Honors: Multiple Big Ten standouts were honored with national awards this season . . .
Making a Name for Themselves: Ten Big Ten performers earned All-America honors from various publications . . .
Students of the Game: The Big Ten led all conferences with nine student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-America first or second teams in football as announced by CoSIDA. The Big Ten has now led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences in Academic All-Americans for eight straight seasons . . .
NCAA Record Breakers: Michigan’s Denard Robinson (rushing yards by quarterback), Minnesota’s Troy Stoudermire (kickoff returns, kickoff return yards) and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (points, total touchdowns, rushing touchdowns) each ended their careers with NCAA records . . .
Packing the House: The 2012 season featured the second-highest season attendance for all games and conference games only in Big Ten history . . .
Nation’s Best Fans: Big Ten schools filled three of the top five spots in the NCAA rankings for average attendance while seven conference programs rated among the top 21 in the country overall . . .
Welcome to the Club: The Big Ten will welcome a pair of new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2013 campaign in Purdue’s Darrell Hazell and Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen . . .