Davis Feels Need for Speed

New Iowa Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis didn't pull any punches on Wednesday when assessing the Hawkeye attack. He feels a need for more speed on the outside.

Two things stuck out to me when I covered a USC practice at the 2003 Orange Bowl - 1. O.J. Simpson looked a lot smaller than I expected an alleged murder of two people to look, and 2. Mike Williams really gave Iowa a serious look coming out of Tampa Plant High.

The first thing was just plain weird. Few, if any, interviews will ever be more surreal than was sticking a voice recorder in front of The Juice.

I was reminded of the Williams' conversation Wednesday when new Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis candidly said the Hawkeyes lacked speed at the receiver position. He mentioned it more than once, and at least initially, it was unsolicted.

Davis commended what he saw on each unit on his side of the ball Wednesday before getting back to the speed deficiency at receiver.

"Right now, I would say the receiver spot is where we need an influx of just some speed," Davis said. "But they are bright guys. They're working hard, and I think they'll improve. But that is an area that I think we need to address in recruiting, and Coach (Kirk Ferentz) has already talked about it."

Davis didn't have that issue in 13 years as Texas' offensive coordinator.

"It was not a problem for the most part," he said. "It's kind of a speed state, so there were guys that could run, typically."

Iowa has tried mightily to recruit top-flight receivers during Ferentz's first 13 years heading the program. Williams visited campus and said he loved the Hawkeye coaches. In the end, he liked Los Angeles more than Iowa City, however.

There were others. Dwayne Jarrett, Adrian Arrington, Josh Morgan, Michael Crabtree, Dane Sanzenbacher and Michael Floyd gave Iowa a look, even if it was cursory for some of them.

It's not secret that it's challenging to get the top players at the position to come to Iowa. Many of them hail from warm weather climates making it tough to bring them to the Midwest unless you're Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, etc.

Heck, it's been tough to keep some of the top receivers in state. Arrington played in Cedar Rapids and chose Michigan. In the 2012 class, Dowling Catholic standout Amara Darboh also picked the Wolverines.

When Iowa has landed a four-star recruit at the position, they've not exactly lit the world on fire. Trey Stross battled injuries for most of his career. Keenan Davis entered this spring with three nondescript seasons under his belt.

Some Iowa fans have called for a more wide-open offense through the Ferentz Era. It would have been tough to do that without speed on the outside.

"We need to be faster," Davis said. "We need to be faster. We need to be able to stretch the field a little better. There is no question about that."

Can that happen in recruiting? It's hard to believe there will be a big swing where Iowa is landing superior receiver prospects on a regular basis.

Davis is hoping to create mismatches with a deep group of tight ends led by C.J. Fiedorowicz. He also plans to put his wideouts in position to pressure the defense despite not always being able to outrun it.

"There are certain things you can do to help that," he said. "Bunch receivers, stack receivers and do some things to gain an advantage. Because sometimes when you get in those sets, they come out of a man look into a zone kind of situation.

"But one of the things that we're all aware of is we'd like to have more speed on the outside."

Iowa will be bringing in at least one receiver this summer with solid speed. Tevaun Smith can get downfield in a hurry.

Perhaps the Hawkeyes need to think about giving more "athletes" a look at the position when they arrive on campus. Maurice Fleming and Ruben Lile come to mind.

This approach has been tried by Iowa. Paul Chaney never seemed to get his feet under him after showing a glimpse of the potential at Wisconsin.

Maybe Davis can make some moves in Texas on the recruiting trail. Iowa Receivers Coach Erik Campbell is working on the same thing in Michigan, a place he knows well.

Again, it's hard to think Iowa makes serious headway in this area. The obstacles are many. However, the Hawkeyes can build on the momentum of Marvin McNutt, who finished last season as the school's record holder in all the major receiving categories.

If Davis can create some changes on offense to feature a more electric passing game than Iowa fans have seen in the last 13 years, maybe the Hawkeyes can become more attractive to prep pass catchers. For now, he'll play the hand he was dealt.

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