Howe: Clock Should Be Ticking on Davis

Iowa reached its bye week at 4-1 bu keeping fans on the edge of their seats. Much of the excitement has been created by an ineffective Hawkeye offense allowing teams to stay in games while its defense does the heavy lifting. It's not what many people expected coming into this season with a veteran offense. And it's time for third-year coordinator, Greg Davis, to get things going.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Greg Davis took questions from the media Tuesday here at the Hayden Fry Football Complex. Iowa's offensive coordinator was less than enlightening.

Much like his system's output in his first two and a half years with the Hawkeyes, Davis supplied few answers in this press gathering. The easy-going Texan acted more edgy than he ever had in the past, however, at least showing their might be a pulse of frustration.

Iowa's offense ranks 98th nationally out of 125 FBS teams in scoring at 22.6 points per game. It's easy to see why even the normally calm Davis is showing cracks in public.

The Hawkeyes boast a veteran offense with experience at every position, including quarterback. Many of these players have worked in his system since Davis arrived. They still often look uncomfortable in it and that's concerning.

Game No. 30 of the Davis' Era came Saturday at Purdue. The Hawkeyes managed 24 points on a Boilermaker defense that allowed more than 30 to Central Michigan and Western Michigan of the MAC earlier in the year.

Davis was asked directly Tuesday why his offense has failed to take off. Each time he said he was happy the team was 4-1.

"I'm disappointed that we haven't scored more points. I think we're trying to do what our players are best suited for," he said.

Interesting response. Is he saying the Hawkeye offensive struggles are a product of not enough talent or does said talent not fit his offense? Is the situation complicated by Davis' philosophy not meshing with that of head coach Kirk Ferentz?

They're questions we've asked and wondered about before. Two years ago, quarterback James Vandenberg didn't fit. Last season, Jake Rudock was a first-year starter. This fall, fingers have been pointed at the ineffectiveness of the offensive line and running backs.

That's not to say the above observations are false. But at some point the excuse train needs to leave the station and be replaced by results.

"We feel like we were really slow getting the running game started," Davis said. "I don't have a great answer as to why that was. I think the last two weeks we've picked that up."

The Hawkeye rushed for 3.8 yards per carry at Pitt and 3.4 at Purdue. I don't know if we could classify those numbers as getting it going.

Davis' other area of "expertise" is coaching quarterbacks. The jury still is out on that position at Iowa. Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard are capable if unspectacular.

Davis said he would play both signal callers going forward but has no plan for how theirt time will be divvied put. He said he would go with the hot hand. That's a slippery slope.

Ferentz said after Saturday's Purdue game that he expected Rudock to be fully recovered from a hip injury when Iowa plays Indiana on Oct. 11. Davis said Tuesday that Rudock currently is about 80 percent healthy and if the Hawkeyes were playing today that Beathard would start.

So, what if both players are healthy?

"I'll let Kirk answer that. He's the head coach. What I will say is we feel like we have two really good players, really good players," Davis said as if channeling Ferentz's answer to the question.

Davis was asked if it matters who starts seeing as he plans on playing both quarterbacks.

"It matters a whole lot more to you than me. I think it matters more to (the fans) than us. Right now, we're planning on playing two," said Davis, wanting badly to move onto another line of questioning.

It's all part of uneasiness surrounding a lackluster offense with more questions than answers. The quarterback situation is muddled, the running game still is pedestrian, the tight ends are underused and the playing call is, well, suspect.

Maybe Davis is resigned to his fate. Like his predecessor, Ken O'Keefe, perhaps his hands are tied by a conservative head coach. Ultimately, he's the coordinator, though, and he either meshes with Ferentz or finds a nice place on Padre Island.

"I don't really worry about it. I really don't," Davis said about backlash from Iowa fans. "If you write me a letter and put your name on it, I will respond. If you don't put your name on it, I throw it away."

It's not yet time to dispose of Davis considering the near million dollars already invested in him. At this point, let's see what that purchase buys for the rest of the season. If the returns remain low, it might be time to look at a new portfolio.


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