After a few cocktails at the Wakonda Club, my friend couldn't stop talking. Could Barry Alvarez have already made certain that he had an abundance of alcohol in the morning? His points were as follows:
1. Although Darius Butler is history, the thinning of the corps at wide receiver may not be done. The experiment with Aramis Haralson at wide receiver may be over. The former Florida prep may be moving back to defense at his original position, safety.
The starting wide receivers look to be C.J. Jones and Ed Hinkel. Maurice Brown is currently running #3 with Ramon Ochoa following close behind. Maurice will still have every chance to shine though as he shown on the practice field the past two seasons that he has the potential. It appears that this could be a spot that an incoming freshman could make his mark. My friend's favorite candidate for that has been the tall Texan, Clint Solomon, a high school QB. The last time a 6-4 wrangler named Clint switched roles was when Clint Eastwood went from playing The Man with No Name in the spaghetti westerns to that of portraying the tough San Francisco cop, Dirty Harry. Who could forget Clint waving his .44 magnum at hoodlums and extolling them to "Make my day!"
Although the former hurdler would appear to have all the tools to be an excellent wide receiver, Clint may have to delay his appearance on the field. The Dark One is now convinced that Calvin Davis will play this year. Davis has been working out with Brad Banks every day. Brad likes the way the hometown hero catches the ball. Fresh off a 47.01 clocking in the 400 meters at the National High School Track Meet, Davis would add a deep threat to Iowa's aerial attack.
2. Wide receiver depth will also not be a problem because Iowa is going to use some two tight end sets. Kirk Ferentz may also be a Clint Eastwood fan, as he wants to wave his 44 all over the field. Dallas Clark can create many match-up problems for opposing defenses playing what NFL teams refer to as an H back. Most linebackers won't be able to cover him while he can quickly shed the smaller defensive backs. That allows Tony Jackson to also be on the field. Too say that Jackson is a physical specimen is an understatement. He adds a tremendous blocker to Iowa's already formidable offensive line. Jackson also displayed a fine pair of hands in the spring game.
3. The running backs offer the staff the ability to show a variety of looks. Aaron Greving is clearly the #1 tailback. He is fully recovered from injuries suffered in the spring, which a recent MRI confirmed. Aaron is a favorite of Coach Jackson as Carl loves his tough attitude. However, look for Jermelle Lewis to push for playing time. Jermelle has been re-invigorated after clearing up some possible academic problems. Lewis is the quickest, fastest and strongest of all the running backs, according to Ladell Betts. He should know! Jermelle adds explosiveness to the offense, while Aaron is the steady, reliable, between the tackles runner with an uncanny knack for finding the end zone. Freddie Russell will be used in spots, probably on third down. This is not a knock on Fred, as the staff wants to get him the ball as much as possible. We will also see Fred in the slot, where he should stretch some defenses.
4. Opposing teams are going to have the ball crammed down their throats as Iowa is going to run the ball like never before. The offensive line will be Kirk's best edition. A healthy Ben Sobieski is an addition that could put the Hawkeye blockers "over the top". Big Ben played in the Polk County ‘I' Club golf outing on Monday. He should be ready to romp and stomp in August.
5. The defensive flanks are also cause for some concern as Aaron Kampman is now playing for the Green Bay Packers and Colin Cole has moved back inside at tackle. Jonathan Babineaux, Howard Hodges and Derrick Robinson form a trio of athletes that should get the job done at DE. Looking into his crystal ball The Shadow is somewhat unclear who the other member of the two deeps will be. Although Matt Neubauer is listed there now, incoming freshman Steve Burch has a tremendous size-speed ratio. In addition, the staff salivates at the prospect of Matt Roth at defensive end. However, that won't happen until Matt wants to switch from linebacker.
6. The linebacking corps will be Iowa's fastest ever. Chad Greenway's rehab is way ahead of schedule. Supposedly, Chad is close to being three months ahead of schedule. You may see Chad play against Iowa State. Abdul Hodge is going to be hard to keep on the pines. He's up to 230 pounds without losing any of his speed.
7. As we reported here months ago, incoming freshman, Jovon Johnson, may be able to step in and play this year. His great quickness and athletic ability make him a natural at corner. The possible switch of Aramis Haralson to free safety also may cause the staff to consider experimenting with Jermire Roberts, as he has the frame to add size to play outside linebacker. You may see him in some new defensive packages.
8. Nathan Chandler is still learning at quarterback. Jason Manson is a physical clone of Brad Banks and will be brought along as fast as possible. His 89-5 touchdown to interception ratio in high school may indicate he has savvy that his biological years would not indicate.
9. Clear Lake LB Ryan Molencamp has caught Kirk Ferentz's eye. It seems he may have more interest than his older brother, Tim. He may be the Mike Elgin in the class of 2003. Keep an eye out for him this fall.
While there was still more from my friend, I'll save that for future reports.
June 25, 2002