BSB Opponent Preview: No. 21 Iowa

Iowa was predicted to be a Big Ten title contender and top-10 team in 2010, but three close losses have derailed the Hawkeyes' hopes. However, all could be right with a win Saturday vs. Ohio State. Get ready for the contest by reading up on Iowa in this preview, which includes depth charts, stats and more.

Saturday, Nov. 20
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Kinnick Stadium; Iowa City

The Hawkeyes
Head coach: Kirk Ferentz, 100-78, 15th season (88-58 at Iowa, 12th season)
2009 record: 11-2 (6-2, tied for 2nd Big Ten Conference)
Series mark: Ohio State leads 45-14-3
School location: Iowa City, Iowa
Enrollment: 30,825
Colors: Black and Gold
Stadium: Kinnick Stadium
Fight song: "Iowa Fight Song"

Iowa Players To Watch
QB Ricky Stanzi: The Mentor, Ohio, native has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country in his senior season, checking in third in the country in passing efficiency. A semifinal candidate for the Maxwell Award (top player), Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback) and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior QB), Stanzi has thrown 22 touchdown passes against only four interceptions.

"I think he's a pretty good player," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Right now he's really playing at a high rate. It's a real credit to him, credit to his teammates. He's worked extremely hard. He continues to do a great job. There are a lot of great players out there, but Ricky is doing a great job of leading our team right now (with) his decisions. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is really impressive."

WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos: The player known as DJK has led Iowa in receiving the past three seasons, making him just the third receiver to accomplish that feat at the school. He's going for four this year, as he is tied for the most catches on the team with 41 to go with a team-best 673 yards and nine touchdowns. Johnson-Koulianos averages 16.4 yards per catch as well, so he's a big-play thread.

"If you look at his production, it speaks for itself," Ferentz said. "I don't know how many records he's set, but they're all big ones – possessions, TDs, I'm losing track. It seems like every week he's surpassing someone else. He's really done great job."

DE Adrian Clayborn: Clayborn could have left early for the NFL, but he chose to come back for his senior year. One of four finalists for the Lombardi Award that goes to the best lineman in college football, Clayborn excels at facing both the run and the pass. He has 42 tackles on the year including seven for loss.

"He's one of those guys that he looks like an NFL-ready body," OSU center Michael Brewster said. "He's a pretty big guy that moves real well and is very powerful. You don't come across that many guys that have the look and also the power."

S Tyler Sash: Only a junior, Sash ranks fifth in Iowa's career annals for interceptions with 13, including two this season. A playmaker who always seems to have his nose in on the play, Sash has 58 tackles. He also authored one of the trademark plays of the 2010 Big Ten season, making an interception vs. Michigan State before tossing a lateral to teammate Micah Hyde, who returned it for a long touchdown.

Sept. 4, Eastern Illinois, W 37-7
Sept. 11, Iowa State, W 35-7
Sept. 18, at No. 18 Arizona, L 34-27
Sept. 25, Ball State, 45-0
Oct. 2, No. 20 Penn State, 24-3
Oct. 16, at No. 24 Michigan, W 38-28
Oct. 23, No. 10 Wisconsin, L 31-30
Oct. 30, No. 5 Michigan State, W 37-6
Nov. 6, at Indiana, W 18-13
Nov. 13, at Northwestern, L 21-17

Projected Starters
QB 12 Ricky Stanzi, 6-4, 230
RB 32 Adam Robinson, 5-9, 205
FB 26 Brett Morse, 6-3, 238
SE 15 Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, 6-1, 200
WR 7 Marvin McNutt, 6-4, 215
TE 82 Allen Reisner, 6-4, 248
LT 77 Riley Reiff, 6-6, 300
LG 63 Julian Vandervelde, 6-3, 300
C 53 James Ferentz, 6-2, 275
RG 67 Josh Koeppel, 6-2, 273
RT 56 Markus Zusevics, 6-5, 295

DE 94 Adrian Clayborn, 6-4, 285
DT 95 Karl Klug, 6-4, 270
DT 93 Mike Daniels, 6-1, 275
DE 46 Christian Ballard, 6-5, 297
OLB 48 Troy Johnson, 6-2, 235
MLB 44 James Morris, 6-2, 215
WLB 42 Jeremiha Hunter, 6-2, 235
LCB 28 Shaun Prater, 5-11, 180
FS 30 Brett Greenwood, 6-0, 200
SS 9 Tyler Sash, 6-1, 210
RCB 18 Micah Hyde, 6-1, 185

P 5 Ryan Donahue, 6-3, 190
K 96 Mike Meyer, 6-2, 175
KR 15 Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, 6-1, 200/6 Keenan Davis, 6-3, 215
PR 26 Paul Chaney Jr., 5-9, 170

Five Fast Facts
1. Adrian Clayborn's mother, Tracie, moved to Iowa City from St. Louis area to spend the season with her son.

2. Iowa has sold out Kinnick Stadium for 48 of the last home games 50 games, and the Ohio State game is sold out as well. Iowa has won 49 of its last 59 games (.831) in the venue.

3. James Morris, the team's starting middle linebacker, will be celebrating a birthday on game day.

4. Ohio State has won 10 of 11 against the Hawkeyes.

5. Iowa has defeated three ranked teams already, and Ohio State is the sixth ranked team the Hawkeyes will face this year. That matches the most a Kirk Ferentz-coached team has faced in a single season with 1999 and 2003.

Offensive Personnel Report
A year ago, Iowa's offense was handicapped by quarterback Ricky Stanzi's propensity for turning the ball over. He threw 15 interceptions, which tied for the most in the Big Ten, but things are different in 2010.

With Stanzi having thrown only four interceptions this season, the Hawkeyes are one of the most secure teams with the ball in Division I-A. Iowa is fifth in the nation in turnover margin at plus-1.2 per game, and the offense has lost only seven turnovers.

"He's basically just not pressing," OSU safety Jermale Hines said. "He looks a lot more relaxed back there, doesn't have happy feet. That's basically the main thing, why his picks have been cut down."

However, that ball security hasn't always led to points. Thanks to injuries at the running back position and an offensive line that has been hit or miss, the Hawkeyes enter the OSU contest sixth in the league in scoring (30.8 points) and yardage (405.9) per game.

There hasn't been much to complain about when it comes to Stanzi, though, as the senior from Mentor, Ohio, has completed 180 of 271 (66.4 percent) of his passes for 2,482 yards, 22 touchdowns and four picks while adding a pair of rushing scores.

His backup is sophomore James Vandenberg, who OSU fans will remember as the quarterback who started last year's game in Columbus and put in a solid performance. This year, the 6-3, 212-pounder has thrown only eight passes, completing five for 45 yards and a TD.

With Jewel Hampton injured for the season and Brandon Wegher having left the team for personal reasons before the season, Iowa's running game has fallen almost completely into the hands of Adam Robinson, just as it did a year ago. However, the sophomore has been up to the task, rushing 194 times for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Robinson's 101.6 yards per game sits fourth in the league, and his 105.8 yards per conference game lead all Big Ten running backs and is second overall to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

Robinson, who also has 20 catches on the year, did miss the Indiana game with what is presumed to be a concussion, forcing true freshman Marcus Coker into a starting role. A three-star prospect as ranked by Scout in the class of 2010 out of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic, Coker has rushed 51 times for 243 yards.

Senior fullback Brett Morse isn't a factor in the running game but has eight catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Out wide, the Hawkeyes have one of the better one-two combinations in the league in senior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and junior Marvin McNutt, both of whom have 41 catches.

Johnson-Koulianos is the school's all-time leader in both receiving yards (2,544) and catches (168). This year, the Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney product leads the team with 673 yards and nine touchdown snags.

McNutt is a converted quarterback who stands 6-5, 215 pounds. An ever-improving target with good size and athleticism, McNutt has 660 yards receiving and six scores.

"He's made a lot of big plays," Ferentz said. "He has improved. I think that's a real fair assessment. The good news is he's got potential to really to continue to improve. He's having a good year right now. We all think he can play at a higher level. He'd be the first to tell you that."

The third target is dependable senior Colin Sandeman (6-1, 200), who has 16 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Keenan Davis is another big target at 6-3, 215 pounds, and he has nine catches for 114 yards and a TD.

This being Iowa, there's bound to be a good pass-catching tight end in the mix, and this year it's senior Allen Reisner. A member of the midseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top player at the position, Reisner is a safety valve with 35 catches for 370 yards and two touchdowns.

His backup, 6-5, 247-pound junior Brad Herman, had a 56-yard catch vs. Michigan State. On the year Herman has seven catches for 149 yards.

Up front, the young Iowa offensive line was exposed when it gave up six sacks at Arizona, including sacks on the last three plays of its last-ditch drive. However, the Hawkeyes have given up only 12 sacks in the other nine games, although Northwestern had three.

A four-year contributor who has been an off-and-on starter since his freshman year, Julian Vandervelde is one of two seniors among the starting group, lining up at left guard.

He's flanked by a pair of sophomores in left tackle Riley Reiff and center James Ferentz. Reiff got his feet wet last year and has moved into a full-time starting role this year, while Ferentz is the son of the head coach.

All three of those players have started every game, as has junior right tackle Markus Zusevics. Zusevics is in his first year as a starter since coming to Iowa as a 225-pound prospect.

Finally, the starting right guard is senior Josh Koeppel. A former walk-on, Koeppel gained headlines during camp when his moped was hit by a car, but he's recovered and started the last two games.

Redshirt freshman Nolan MacMillan started the first six games at right guard and could see time as well, while projected starter Adam Gettis has fought off injuries and could play vs. the Buckeyes.

Defensive Personnel Report
Despite a spate of injuries to its linebackers and the hospitalization of coordinator Norm Parker, Iowa has put together one of the better defensive units in the Big Ten yet again. The Hawkeyes rank atop the league in rush defense with 86.8 yards allowed per game while sitting second in scoring (15.0) and yardage allowed (307.0) to Ohio State.

Iowa accomplishes this goal by largely sticking with its 4-3 base personnel and using a cover-2 shell with a pair of deep safeties.

"In the past we haven't really gotten more than two blitzes a game," Brewster said. "They just play you straight up. The big thing is their front four guys are always moving, which is a blitz for them, kind of. We know we're going to get a lot of twists and slants. We have to be ready for that."

The team also has Parker back after he missed a number of games earlier this season and had to have his foot amputated because of complications from diabetes.

The whole defense starts up front, where the Hawkeyes have one of the best lines in the country led by returning All-Big Ten end Adrian Clayborn.

"Iowa is the real deal," OSU left guard Justin Boren said. "People say they arguably have the best defensive line in the country. As an offensive line, we're looking forward to that. You want to see how you match up."

Clayborn hasn't been the same dominating presence as in past seasons, but he's still a fearsome presence with excellent skills and a motor that doesn't stop. The senior has 42 tackles on the year including seven tackles for loss, 3½ tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

The starter on the other side is senior Christian Ballard, who has started every game. A third-year starter who can also move inside and play tackle as he did a season ago, Ballard has 33 tackles including three TFL on the year.

When Ballard moves inside, the starting end is junior Broderick Binns (6-2, 261), who was a starter a season ago with Ballard inside fulltime. Binns has 22 stops this year and also an interception return for a touchdown.

Senior Karl Klug has developed his body from a 200-pound defensive end in high school into a 6-4, 270-pound starting tackle. Klug's quickness helps him out, as he has 46 tackles on the year including 8½ for loss and 3½ sacks.

The other tackle is junior Mike Daniels. A hole filler who is extremely active, Daniels leads the team with 11 tackles for loss and four sacks among his 38 stops. Known as "Spark" last year as a super sub, Daniels has started five games.

Two of the linebackers who started the opener in Tyler Nielsen and Bruce Davis are out for the year with injuries to their neck and knee, respectively, and senior Jeff Tarpinian aggravated an injury vs. Northwestern and is likely out for the game.

Senior Jeremiha Hunter is a third-year starter who lines up on the weak side and brings steady play, and he leads the squad with 65 tackles while recovering two fumbles and making an interception.

True freshman James Morris of Solon, Iowa, has stepped up become the starter in the middle. A three-star prospect according to Scout, Morris has 46 tackles, including 13 vs. Northwestern.

"He's really doing outstanding," Ferentz said. "Couldn't be more pleased. I think all of us feel that way. He's a young player who's learning on the fly. It's just how it goes sometimes, but he's playing with great energy. He's really a tough, competitive guy. He's going to be a tremendous football player."

With Tarpinian – who has 44 tackles – out, the No. 1 outside linebacker on the depth chart is senior Troy Johnson, who has 38 tackles and an interception.

Redshirt freshman Shane DiBona has two starts on the year, and the 6-2, 230-pounder has 13 tackles.

The Hawkeye secondary is led by a pair of play-making safeties in junior Tyler Sash and senior Brett Greenwood, who have started together for three seasons and have a strong working knowledge of each others' games.

Sash is the more talented of the two, and the strong safety earned first-team All-Big Ten status last year with six interceptions. This year, Sash has 58 tackles and two interceptions.

Greenwood came to Iowa as a walk-on but has become a dependable contributor. This year he leads the Big Ten with four interceptions and has 41 tackles.

"He's done a good job each year, just improved," Ferentz said. "He's gotten better physically. He's worked hard at that. He's got the knowledge and wisdom to play faster than maybe with time out. That's what experience does for you. He's a guy that gets it, to maximize. Boy, he's done a great job for us."

Hyde is a Fostoria, Ohio, native who is starting in his sophomore season. He is second on the team with 61 tackles – including 12 vs. Northwestern – and has two interceptions.

The starter on the other side is junior Shaun Prater, who has come back from an early-season hamstring injury to start nine straight games. Prater has 52 tackles and three interceptions.

The Hawkeyes don't often use a fifth defensive back, but sophomore corner Greg Castillo (5-11, 180) started the opener Prater missed and has six tackles and two pass breakups.

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