Oct. 21, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Greg Davis has stressed the importance of explosive plays since taking over as the University of Iowa offensive coordinator in 2012. The 2015 Hawkeyes are more explosive than Davis imagined.
Iowa is leading the Big Ten Conference with 12 plays from scrimmage of 40-plus yards. The Hawkeyes had 12 such plays all last season and 13 40-plus plays in 2012 and 2013 combined.
“We’re more explosive through seven games than I would have anticipated in August,” Davis said Wednesday during a news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “If you can get a couple of big plays during the course of a game, it does wonders for field position and wonders for your football team.”
“We’re more explosive through seven games than I would have anticipated in August. If you can get a couple of big plays during the course of a game, it does wonders for field position and wonders for your football team.”
UI offensive coordinator Greg Davis
The “wonders” for Iowa in 2015 include a string of seven straight victories to open the season. The Hawkeyes are front-runners in the Big Ten West Division and ranked 12th in The Associated Press poll — the highest ranking since 2010.
The key to big-play production has been fueled by the production of the fullbacks and wide receivers — two player groups that Davis believes have been under-appreciated.
Case in point: Akrum Wadley’s 35-yard touchdown run at Northwestern.
“The line did a good job, (wide receiver) Jacob Hillyer did a good job, he came in and got the safety, and we had Akrum 1-on-1 with the corner,” explained Davis. “We had everything cleaned up for the back, and Akrum made the corner miss and it turned out to be an explosive play.
“Usually those things are a combination, but I think not enough nice things are said about our fullbacks and wide receivers. They have done a good job of creating explosive plays downfield.”
The Hawkeyes have run the ball effectively in 2015. Iowa is averaging 214.4 yards and three different players have rushed for 100 yards in a game. The Hawkeyes had back-to-back 200-yard rushers in Jordan Canzeri (256 yards versus Illinois) and Wadley (204 yards versus Northwestern).
“I said in August I thought we had four backs, and I said we would need all four of them before it was all said and done,” said Davis. “I didn’t realize it would be by the seventh game.”
Davis expects junior LeShun Daniels, Jr. — the season-opening starter — to return when Iowa hosts Maryland on Halloween.
Through the first seven games, Davis has been impressed with quarterback C.J. Beathard’s tangible ability to get the ball to his second and third receivers. Davis says Beathard’s intangibles have been off the charts.
“C.J.’s leadership has been remarkable, starting in January,” said Davis.
Davis has been impressed with Beathard’s decision-making (Beathard has nine touchdowns to three interceptions). Coming out of fall camp, Davis said there was a trust Beathard could (and would) make sound decisions, but he wanted to see it happen when it counted.
“Until you play in a ballgame, until you put the quarterback out there with the band and lights on, you’re not sure,” said Davis. “Somewhere in the third or fourth game, it wasn’t like an epiphany, it was OK, he understands taking care of the ball, when he should take a shot and when he should not.”
Beathard has picked the right times to take his shots and explosive plays have followed.
The Hawkeyes return to action Oct. 31, hosting Maryland at 2:30 p.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium. To purchase tickets, click HERE.