Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast--Iowa
The following is an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Brassey's Inc.'s "Blue Ribbon College Football Forecast" profile for Iowa. We've included an excerpt of our position analyses, as well as of our "Blue Ribbon Analysis" for the upcoming season. For much more detail on your team and the 116 other Division I-A teams, purchase the "Forecast" today--see below for ordering information!
QuarterbackHeading into last season, the Hawkeyes were prepared for an exciting battle at the quarterback spot, with at least three players holding realistic hopes for the starting job. All that changed when an off-field incident led Jon Beutjer to transfer from Iowa, leaving Kyle McCann as the only experienced quarterback on the roster. Buetjer eventually landed at Illinois, but his exit turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it allowed McCann to grow into the position and lead the Hawkeyes back to a bowl game.
McCann started all 12 games, passing for 2,028 yards on 66.3 percent passing, and connecting for 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His completion percentage led the Big Ten among starting quarterbacks and his passing efficiency ranked among the national leaders all season.
A perfect example of McCann's growth last year was Iowa's Alamo Bowl victory over Texas Tech. He completed his first 12 passes, finished 19-for-26 with no interceptions, and on the drive to the game-winning field goal in the game's final minute, McCann completed passes of 16 and 21 yards and had a 16-yard run.
"It's so fitting he ended things the way he did," Ferentz told The Daily Iowan. "He symbolizes so much of what this team has gone through."
This year, there will be no controversy-senior Brad Banks (6-1, 185) clearly is the man at quarterback for the Hawkeyes. Banks transferred from Hinds (Miss.) Community College before last season, and Ferentz worked him into the mix frequently during the season as a change of pace for the Hawkeye offense.
Banks appeared in 10 games, connecting on 41-of-48 passes for 582 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 151 yards on 41 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, and his flashy style made him an instant favorite of the Hawkeye fans.
During spring drills he made it clear that he was ready to make the starting job his exclusive property with an eye-popping performance in the spring game. He completed 18-of-21 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns in leading an efficient and effective first-team offense.
"I like his demeanor out there," Ferentz told The Daily Iowan. "I really felt good about how [he] passed. He has the potential to be a very good passer. We are improving in all phases, but we can still improve our passing game. Banks is going to be a threat for us."
Banks was able to concentrate on refining his game this spring, instead of trying to impress his new teammates and coaches and justify his position as the No. 2 quarterback.
"It's a whole lot easier for me right now," Banks told The Daily Iowan. "I had a lot of reps this spring in practice-my reps doubled from last spring."
Blue Ribbon AnalysisIowa is once again a team on the rise in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are not quite back at the level of the teams Hayden Fry helped challenge for the conference title throughout the '80s, but they've got the right pieces in place for another bowl bid.
The biggest question mark remains with the skill players on offense, where a new quarterback, tailback, fullback, and primary receiver must emerge to help put points on the board. That's a lot to ask, especially early, but if Banks plays the way he did in the spring, the team's confidence will grow quickly and the Hawkeyes should get over that hump.
The lines are both solid and experienced, and with three Nagurski Trophy candidates on defense, opponents will once again find rough sledding against the Hawkeyes. A BCS bowl is not entirely out of the question, but given the youth on offense, a return to the Alamo Bowl should be viewed as a success.