IOWA CITY — Greg Davis will be given the chance to cure what ailed the Iowa football program’s sporadic offense during its recently completed 4-8 season.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday he expects the offensive coordinator to return for a second season despite an inconsistent campaign.
“Greg’s a tremendous football coach, and we wouldn’t have brought him here 10 months ago if we didn’t feel that way,” Ferentz said. “I feel stronger about the kind of coach and the kind of person that he is now after working with him the past few months.”
Ferentz conceded that the learning curve for the Hawkeyes and for Davis, who spent 13 seasons on Mack Brown’s staff at Texas before joining Iowa last February, turned out to be a little greater than was anticipated.
Among 124 Football Bowl Subdivision programs, the Hawkeyes rank 114th in scoring offense and 117th in total offense.
Fifth-year senior quarterback James Vandenberg, who threw 25 touchdown passes as a junior, tossed seven this fall while leading an offense that averaged 19.3 points per game.
The scoring average is the lowest for Iowa since it averaged 18.5 points per game in 2007, positioning Davis and Vandenberg to join Ferentz as lightning rods for fan criticism.
“No question, it’s been a learning curve for all of us,” Ferentz said. “Greg’s a smarter Iowa football coach for us now than he was in February. How could you not be? We’ve had some great discussion, and I think he’s got a real handle on our best path moving forward.”
Those discussions include members of a staff that saw two coaches working with the same personnel groups this season that they worked with in 2011.
Ferentz said it is possible some assignments within the staff could change.
“We’re sitting here 4-8 right now, so I think we have to be open to everything as staff, players, where guys line up, all those things,” Ferentz said. “It’s not something typically that you make a rash decision on. … We have good people here. The majority of them were here in 2008 and ’09. It’s not like we’ve got a bunch of dumbbells here.”
Ferentz indicated he remains comfortable with his assistants, but time has taught him to expect that changes in personnel could occur if they choose to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
“There is no way to know, no way to predict that,” he said. “I can’t speak for everybody, although I do know this is one press conference where I don’t think people are going to ask if I’ve been contacted about anything other than a Division-III job somewhere in Montana or something like that. You never know.”
More interested in moving ahead than looking back as he surveys what went wrong during a 2012 season that ended with six consecutive losses, Ferentz reviews a season when the Hawkeyes didn’t always look like the previous 13 Ferentz-coached Iowa teams.
“My biggest concern is that we’re doing things that are smart and fundamentally sound. Frankly, there were times this year when you couldn’t say that,” Ferentz said. “I’m not going to try to spin that.”
That’s one reason Ferentz does not expect Iowa to stray far from its core values as it works toward 2013.
“What I’m married to from a philosophical standpoint is what’s going to work, what gives us the best chance to win,” he said. “I do know that if you miss tackles defensively and give up big plays, you aren’t going to be successful. Offensively, same thing. Whether you throw it 80 times a game or 10, if you turn it over or if you don’t block people, it isn’t going to work.”
Ferentz says it was those fundamental flaws that led the Hawkeyes to their worst record since going 3-9 in 2000, and he says correcting those technical shortcomings will lead Iowa to a quick turnaround.
“This is hardly a hopeless situation,” Ferentz said. “We’re not climbing Mount Everest. There is enough talent currently on campus for us to be a successful football team next year, and hopefully through recruiting we’ll add to that.”
- Starting fullback Brad Rogers will undergo surgery in upcoming days to repair a back injury, coach Kirk Ferentz said. Rogers played in nine games this season.
- Ferentz said one other starter might be facing offseason surgery. Ferentz declined to name the player, saying medical tests have not yet determined if surgery is necessary.
- Starting offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal, who both missed the last five games of the season, are expected to be cleared medically before the start of spring drills. Ferentz anticipates the return by then of two players injured during preseason camp, starting cornerback candidate Jordan Lomax and freshman defensive back Ruben Lile.
- Ferentz didn’t name names, but he dismissed a rumor that quarterback Jake Rudock plans to transfer. Ferentz said he met Tuesday “with the player in question, and it was the exact opposite of him going to New Orleans.”