Nov. 11, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa tight ends coach LeVar Woods made the transition from defense to offense, and the result through nine games has been a productive season for the tight end group.
The Hawkeyes have matched the best start in school history at 9-0, and will try to make it 10 straight when they host Minnesota on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium (7:12 p.m., BTN). Iowa, one of six undefeated FBS teams, is fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings.
“I think it has gone well, it was definitely different starting off the season,” said Woods. “I have been able to adapt, and the two seniors, Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger Coble, have helped tremendously. The guys in the room are awesome; they are great kids who do well in the classroom and on the field.”
Woods is a former Hawkeye player (1998-2000) who served as a team captain and was a Most Valuable Player. He played defense in the NFL for seven seasons and has been on the Hawkeye coaching staff since 2008. Woods coached Iowa linebackers for three years.
“It has gone smooth,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz, of the transition to the change for Woods. “I have always thought tight end was a critical component of our offensive scheme. I think it has been invigorating for LeVar; he has enjoyed it, to get on the other side of the ball and look at football from a different perspective. I think it has been helpful for our offense; he can share defensive perspective in the meeting room, how they might be reading the different actions or plays.”
When Woods speaks about the play of the tight ends this season, he said they have embraced the “team first” mentality.
I think the group functions well together as a unit, the guys care about each other, they like each other, and are rooting for each other,” said Woods. “All they want to do is work well together as a group, and work for the success of this team.”
That approach has paid dividends for the offense, as Iowa is averaging 32.9 points and 412 yards total offense per game. As a group, the Hawkeye tight ends have combined for 30 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns.
“Part of their job description is they have to be able to block like the best offensive tackle and run routes like the best wide receivers,” said Woods. “That is in their job and they work hard toward that goal every day. They are very detailed, they want to improve to be the best they can be. Looking ahead, we know Minnesota is a good defense. They have proven that over the years; this will be a tough game for us.”
“We are getting great production from out tight ends,” said Ferentz. “I know it has been a great move for our players, that is the most important thing. Jake’s on the way back, George (Kittle) and Henry are playing well, and we’re seeing good things from the younger guys. I think the extra attention has been beneficial for the players. LeVar has a great rapport with the guys, always has. I think this will broaden his horizons and make him a more versatile, well-rounded coach.”
Saturday night’s game is sold out, but tickets remain for Iowa’s home finale against Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 21 (TBA). Tickets are available online at hawkeyesports.com, by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or in person at the UI athletics ticket office located in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A $25 youth ticket is available for the final home contest.