The Dark One was in attendance at the Val Air Ballroom Monday night to hear the first of Kirk Ferentz's speeches on the rubber chicken circuit at the Polk County 'I' Club Spring Football Banquet. The chicken was anything but rubber as Central Catering served juicy fried chicken and the trimmings like Grandma used to make. Once again The Shadow proved to be a formidable eater as he ate 6 pieces of chicken topped off with 4 servings of ice cream.
The Polk County 'I' Club put on a fine event, as always, Monday night. Jim Zabel emceed and drew the biggest laugh of the night when he said that the banquet crowd was larger than the attendance at the Iowa State spring game.
Chuck Hartlieb presented the Bud Flood Fighting Hawk Award to Kyle McCann, while Matt Whittaker gave the John Nocera Captain's Award to Aaron Kampman. Both recipients were very gracious in their acceptance speeches, as you would expect.
Kirk Ferentz defined where the Iowa program is now when he said "In the last 16 games the Iowa football team is 9-7. One of the losses was by 9 points while the rest were be six points or less. We aren't where we want to be yet, but we're getting there!"
After leaving the Val Air, the information was flowing as freely as the spiggots of beer at Pal Joey's. Zabel was entertaining friends in his usual manner, while I was seated in a separate corner with my dark friend. Naturally, he was drinking his Johnnie Walker Black & water, sparing me no expense in my quest for knowledge.
"Look for many two tight end sets this fall as the Hawks are loaded with tight ends. Coach Ferentz loves tight ends as they create so many match up problems for the defense. Look for 275 pound Tony Jackson to be at tight end, where he can really run block, while they spot Dallas Clark all over the field. Substitute Eric Jensen, C.J.Barkema or Andy Thorn for Jackson as the Hawks are truly loaded at TE."
As Josh Clark reported here last winter, the staff wants to fully utilize Clark as the offensive weapon that he is. By using him as an 'H' back in the slot or as a third wide receiver, opposing defenses are presented with the problem of who is going to cover the man named Dallas.
"Incoming freshman CB, Jovon Johnson, has superstar written all over him", The Shadow whispered. While many Hawk fans thought that Jovon was a fall back, that couldn't be farther from the truth. "He is far superior to former teammate LeVonne Rowan. Jovon is a great athlete and a great football player. He makes eye popping plays with regularity. Jovon has the potential to follow Bob Sanders in being an All-Big Ten pick and even possibly All-American. While many of the other incoming freshmen have great ability, Jovan really stands out."
"Don't worry about his 5-8 height as there are many NFL corners that size. Opponents should just worry about his superior quickness and agility."
Others that may play this year include DE/LB Steve Burch and LB Edmond Miles. Although it may be more wise to allow Miles to red-shirt as we would hate to see another Matt Roth scenario.
"A coaching buddy from the east coast told me that Jason Manson could become the next Donovan McNabb. Give him a couple of years to mature and learn the offense and he could become something special."
"At the same time my redneck fishing buddy from Arkansas touts Cy Phillips due to his over 1,000 yards rushing while passing for a little under 1,000 yards his senior year. Take your pick, but I side with the coach over the fisherman. After all, the only good thing to ever come out of Arkansas was Interstate 49." I reminded him that Bill Clinton and Lou Holtz were from Arkansas. He replied "See what I mean."
Although other incoming freshmen will become starters in due time, Jovon is the one singled out by the Dark One to watch for this fall. "He could return punts and have other special teams duties if he can't get regular playing time."
In addition, watch this fall as Dallas Clark becomes a renaissance man for Iowa. The former linebacker will line up all over the field on offense to give opposing defenses coverage problems. As the Hawks move Dallas around, defenses will be forced to change or pay the price. Could Iowa City feature the midwest version of the Golden Bear Tony Gonzalez?