A Big Night of Offense

Dec. 29, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following first appeared in the Dec. 27 edition of the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, a free daily e-newsletter. For more information about the UI’s OSR, click HERE.

MIAMI —According to the fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes who visit hawkeyesports.com, the official world wide web site of the University of Iowa’s intercollegiate athletics program, Kirk Ferentz’s squad is going to score somewhere between 30 and 40 points against Georgia Tech in the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl.

Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, that’s a little aggressive. Iowa averaged a hair better than 23 points per game in the regular season. The highwater mark was 42 against Indiana; the low 10 against Northwestern. In fact, the Hawkeyes reached 30 points just three times: at Iowa State and against Michigan and the Hoosiers on Halloween Day.

And, if you flip the coin, you note that Tech’s defense averaged 24.8 points allowed in its first 12 games of the season. It limited a pretty good North Carolina team to just seven, Virginia to nine and Duke to 10. Now, on the other hand, Mississippi State scored 31, Florida State 44 and Vanderbilt 31 against Tech. And Georgia beat Iowa’s bowl game opponent 30-27 a week before the Yellow Jackets outscored Clemson 39-34 to win the ACC championship game.

Hmmm. The fans might be on to something. It’s not a bad bet. Which Iowa offense is more likely to show on Jan. 5…the one that put 35 on Iowa State or scored 35 points in the second half of the victory over the Hoosiers or the one that couldn’t seem to get it going against the Minnesota? Seems reasonable to believe the former will appear in Miami.

Ricky Stanzi will be back under center.

Adam Robinson is healthy, too.

Presumably, so, too, is his running mate, Brandon Wegher.

Iowa might also have a healthy Dace Richardson back on in the line.

Toss in a wide receiver and a tight end playing their final games as Hawkeyes – Trey Stross and Tony Moeaki – and five weeks of solid prep time anchored by what will likely be an “on task” week in Miami, and you might just have to like the chances of the Hawkeye offense consistently moving the chains and finding paydirt.

“Ricky looks really good. When he was out, he stayed next to the coaches and was in the game, so, mentally, he’s there. He needed to stay mentally ready and he did,” Stross told the media who assembed the Monday before Christmas. Of course, the bulk of the questioning was about the status of Iowa’s signal-caller.

“He’s in good (physical) shape, too. When you’re a quarterback you don’t have that much do to anyway,” he added with a smile.

“We’re getting used to game speed. We’re going against our first team defense. They pretty good and pretty fast. That provides a pretty good practice.”

Certainly, the bulk of the responsibility for putting points on the board is on the offense. But, the Hawkeye defense can have a significant influence on the scoreboard. If it remains stingy –it has averaged only 15 points allowed per game –and, perhaps, gets a little aggressive in terms of taking what isn’t theirs at the time – a fumble here, a pick there – and gives the “O” a short field once or twice, 30 becomes much more doable.

As always, it will be interesting to watch it unfold.

Seven days and counting.