Position Battles, Projections: WR/TE

Iowa's offense didn't set the world on fire last year, but you knew that already. Iowa ranked last or next to last in every major statistical category last season. This year, if healthy, they should perform much better than that. Here is a look at the upcoming position battles at wide receiver, plus a player by player statistical projection for that position as well as tight ends...

The countdown clocks are ticking; there are 73 days until Iowa kicks off (or receives) against Maine in the season opener and just 37 days until the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago, the ‘unofficial' start of Big Ten football.

 

Iowa will hold its annual Media Day roughly a week to ten days after the Chicago meeting, which signals the start of fall practice.  So believe it or not, football is rapidly approaching.

 

Given that Iowa's offense ranked last or next to last in nearly every major offensive category last season, it stands to reason that there will be some significant position battles this fall.  Here is a look at some of those expected contests:

 

WIDE RECEIVER:  Last year was a rough year for this position, due to on and off field attrition. Things began poorly when Dominique Douglas and Anthony Bowman were suspended indefinitely before two-a-days were even finished.  The situation went from bad to worse when Andy Brodell was lost for the season three games and one quarter into his junior year with a hamstring injury at Wisconsin.  Sophomore Trey Stross battled  nagging leg injuries for much of the season as well.

 

That left Iowa with an all freshman receiving corps for part of the time, and a less than 100% Stross to go along with freshmen Derrell-Johnson Koulianos, James Cleveland, Paul Chaney and Colin Sandeman.

 

DJK and Chaney were high school quarterbacks, so there was not a lot of experience at wide out for the Hawkeyes.  But since we are several months removed from that experience, one can look on the bright side now and say ‘those players saw a lot of action and gained some valuable playing time.'

 

Brodell returns for his senior season having shown flashes of brilliance during his career; back to back 159 yard receiving games to end the 2006 season still stand out.  This will be his year to find consistency from down to down.  Stross will be a junior, and it's time to put health issues behind him and become a go to receiver each and every snap.  The good news is that he has the physical tools to accomplish that objective. 

 

The same can be said of DJK; no one on the team possesses the raw talent that he has, and his upside is significant.  He has to capture a significant portion of that upside this year and like the entire receiving corps, he has to make the routine plays, run crisp routes and pick up hot reads.  Chaney is fast, and showed against Wisconsin that he can get behind a defense, even when they are playing for the home run ball.  He showed some toughness late against Michigan State catching a ball in the seam and having a nose for the end zone.  He could grow into a weapon out of the slot, and like DJK, should benefit from another year at the position.

 

Sandeman showed some flashes as a true freshman, but he too struggled with hot reads and hanging onto the football.  The spotlight of criticism was probably too hot on him last year, given his age and inexperience.

 

Of course, James Cleveland is no longer with the football team, which is certainly a loss for Iowa. 

 

As we look at all of these positions, we will make an assumption on health, which isn't a given as we all know.

 

Brodell is one starter, with Stross having an inside edge on the other side.  If DJK doesn't rise up and grab the opportunity that will be before him to either push for the #2 receiver spot, or lock down the #3, then that would be a big time red flag.  But there is opportunity for playing time at this position this year, and the battle between DJK and Stross for significant reps will be one of the main battles to watch for this fall.

 

PROJECTED STATISTICS

 

                                    REC    YDS    TD

Andy Brodell                45        684      6

Trey Stross                   26        416      3

D. Johnson-Koulianos        35        525      3

Paul Chaney                 15        180      1

Colin Sandeman           12        144      0

 

TIGHT ENDS

Tony Moeaki                45        450      6

Brandon Myers            20        200      2

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