Talking Tight Ends with Coach Eric Johnson

In recent years, Iowa has played a ‘tight end by committee' system on offense. As the Hawkeyes begin their work on the 2005 season, they appear to have at least two very solid options in Scott Chandler and Ryan Majerus. Tight Ends coach Eric Johnson talks about his blossoming group of players.

Eric Johnson: Ryan and Scott have an edge on the other guys, because they have played in some big time environments; at Ohio State and at Michigan. Besides those two, no one has playing experience, outside of CJ Barkema.

Will Tony Moeaki have a role this year?

Eric Johnson: Still too early too tell on Tony. We just ask him to learn things as best he can and to play as hard as he can.

What are some of the strengths and areas to improve for Scott and Ryan?

Eric Johnson: The biggest improvement they needed to make was physically. They had to gain strength and Ryan really proved that in the spring and Scott did that in the first few days in the summer. He is ready to make that step also. We lost a physical presence in Tony (Jackson) and Erik (Jensen) over the last few years.

The tight ends at Iowa have to be blockers as well as receivers, or else our offense will not be successful. Those were the biggest areas for them to improve. We have some athletic tight ends and guys that will be outstanding for us in the passing game, but we have to do a good job in the running game for us to be successful.

Do Scott and Ryan compliment one another?

Eric Johnson: I don't know if they are doing that or running neck and neck. We don't know which one will establish himself as #1, where they will line up in two tights, if at all. I don't want to discredit Tony, CJ or Brandon, Mike Sabers; no depth chart has been established yet. Where guys fit is still yet to be determined.

Did Scott make strides in his blocking?

Eric Johnson: He is making them now. We have only had two practices, but Scott and Coach Doyle talked about being a tight end, and he has put on 10 pounds of muscle. He looks good and he is more comfortable blocking, so hopefully he will grow and mature in two a days.

Will Scott be more capable of playing with his hand on the ground this year, as he played a lot of ‘H' back last year?

Eric Johnson: I think he is stronger and has more weight to him which will allow him to be an every down type of tight end than where he was last fall. Last fall, he played 228, 230. That is hard to block 260 on up defensive ends when you are at that weight. Now, he is going to be able to handle people from a strength and weight standpoint.

You did some different things with Scott against Purdue last year, like sending him out wide. He had over 100-yards receiving in that game. Are those options still in the mix?

Eric Johnson: The tight ends that we have will give us offensive options. What those are have yet to be determined, but I think we will be able to line up in some personnel groups. They won't look like they have traditionally at Iowa.

Kirk singled out Ryan Majerus in the spring. What did he do to earn that praise?

Eric Johnson: In the past few years, we have had a tight end by committee. I think he made up his mind to be the number one tight end. That has spurred things on for some of the other guys, too, seeing the dedication that Ryan put in. He really established from a tempo standpoint, from a physicality standpoint that he could be a guy that could not only play in our two tight end sets, but our one tight end set.

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