Iowa Football: Upshot Potential

The term ‘upside potential' gets thrown out a lot when it comes to life, and certainly when it comes to sports. Throw in ‘exponential upside potential' and we begin to formulate a sliding scale of upshot. Here is one man's look at the players on the Iowa football team that might be poised to have the biggest ‘upshot' from 2008 to 2009.

The term ‘upside potential' gets thrown out a lot when it comes to life, and certainly when it comes to sports.  Throw in ‘exponential upside potential' and we begin to formulate a sliding scale of upshot.

Here is one man's look at the players on the Iowa football team that might be poised to have the biggest ‘upshot' from 2008 to 2009.  I also recognize that there are going to be some names that come out of nowhere to make a big impact on next year's football team; that is always the case at a school like Iowa, and next year will be no different.  But here is a list, finishing with who I believe has the biggest upside growth potential based on what we have seen thus far.

Jewell Hampton:  He averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year and scored seven touchdowns.  Those are pretty heady numbers for a true freshman reserve running back.  I believe he will emerge as the primary ball carrier for Iowa, though I would not go so far as to call him Iowa's feature back in waiting; we will need to see what Jeff Brinson can do with regards to taking some carries away.  I remain convinced that Hampton, as a true freshman, could have gained over 1,200 rushing yards last year if he would have gotten 250 carries.  He had just shy of 100, and made the most of those.  If he is healthy, he is going to top 100 yards and he will likely end up with double-digit touchdown totals.  I don't think we can expect for anyone to have the yards after contact abilities that Shonn Greene showed us last year, but Hampton has some power in his game, and I also think he showed a better speed burst at times than Greene did last year.  I had a friend call me during the Michigan State game last year and tell me that Shonn Greene is a doubles hitter with home run holes.  I think that Hampton can be more of a home run hitter, but doubles are pretty good in Iowa's offense.  If he can learn patience in Iowa's blocking scheme, he is going to have a fabulous career toting the pigskin in this system.

Rick Stanzi:  Stanzi completed just shy of 60 percent of his passes, and I think he will do better than that this year.  He started in 11 games and threw for 1,956 yards, 14 scores and had 9 interceptions with 254 attempts.  He will probably throw at least 300 passes this year, with two more starts and perhaps more reliance on the passing game until Hampton proves he can handle the load.  I can see Stanzi throwing for somewhere near 18 to 20 touchdowns and keep his interception numbers in the same range as he had in 2008, and roughly 2,400 yards passing.  If the wide receiver position find stability early on and stays injury free, his numbers could improve even more.  You have to figure that after having had one year as the starter in this system, and this spring to get the majority of the reps, perhaps all of the reps with the number ones, Stanzi is going to find that ‘happy place' that veteran quarterbacks seem to find.  Iowa will need this out of him, as teams are probably going to load up to stop the run and to see if Stanzi has what it takes to beat them.  Last year, teams tried to load up to stop the run and for the most part, it didn't matter; the offensive line was just that good.  That is an ideal circumstance for a young quarterback to be thrown into, and Stanzi did the job.  But in 2009, it's time to go to a new level, and I believe the kid has the tools.

Pat Angerer:  Health has always been an issue for Angerer, ever since stepping on to the Iowa campus.  He played his last high school game with some cracked vertebrae, and he was still the best player on the field by a landslide.  He really came into his own last year, but I get the sense that he has another gear in his bag of tricks.  The same can be said of Jeremiha Hunter; last year, he looked like he was thinking at times, as opposed to reacting.  I think we will see more natural reactions this year, which is what you would expect from someone  that has had his time on the field in this system.

Tyler Sash:  I think the same can be said of Sash; he got by a lot on raw instincts and athleticism last year, and being in the right place at the right time.  Some may call that luck; you can label it what you want, but I love playmakers and the best of them seem to just be around the ball when it's available.  Sash was that for Iowa last year, snaring five interceptions, recovering one fumble and forcing another.  I expect big things out of Sash in 2009. 

Tony Moeaki:  Yeah, I know that I have been high on Tony even before he set foot on Iowa's campus, and I know the young man hasn't lived up to the All American hype he had when he arrived on campus.  He has been besieged by injuries, some of it being bad luck.  Yet I still hold onto the belief that Moeaki can be a dangerous weapon in Iowa's offensive arsenal the way Dallas Clark was in 2002.  I think Moeaki is a better blocker than Clark was and I believe the two could run a 40-yard dash and be within a tenth of a second difference.  If Moeaki can stay healthy in 2009, I think he is capable of a 40-plus reception season for 500-plus yards and six touchdowns.  That would be a big jump from his production to date, and a big shot in the arm for the Iowa offense.

Here are a few more names:

Christian Ballard:  I know that he has another gear to his game; it's just staying motivated to play in that gear for 40 snaps a game.

Amari Spievey:  Have we seen the best he has to offer?  If not, then we are talking about a future 1st team All Big Ten cornerback.  If he plays at his 2008 level next year, we might be talking about that anyway.

DJK:  I know he had a breakout year last year, but I still believe this kid has as much raw and exciting football ability, ability that you either have or you don't have, as any Iowa player since Tim Dwight.  This year has to be about consistency for DJK, and if he can find that, he can make exponential gains in his on field contributions. 

Trey Stross:  If he can stay healthy all year, he is a 25-35 reception possibility.

Dan Doering & Andy Kuempel:  One or both of these players needs to realize their potential, and time is running out.  The good news is that they both have the foundation.


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