Ohio State Football: Scouting Iowa

Jake Rudock and Iowa present the next opponent for Ohio State football. We take a look at what kind of challenge the Hawkeye quarterback and his supporting cast provide in this weekly scouting report of the Buckeyes' next challenger.

The Hawkeyes come into Ohio Stadium 4-2 on the season with both losses coming to good-not-great teams. None of Iowa's win would qualify as good wins, either, but they are pretty clearly better than the 4-8 squad that bottomed out last season.

Since the Buckeyes last tangled with the Hawkeyes in 2010, a few things have changed for Iowa.

Yes, Kirk Ferentz is still the head coach but he has had to hire two new coordinators to mixed reviews.

The 2012 Iowa offense was one of the worst all-around in the country last season under Greg Davis, but it has had fits of competency this season.

Quarterback Jake Rudock doesn't wow you with his arm strength, but he seems pretty accurate, especially on short and intermediate throws. He's not a dynamic runner, but he has good straight-line speed and can pick up a third down if a lane is there. They have also added some zone read, though it's not a big part of their package and he doesn't seem too apt to keep it.

Iowa still prefers a downhill running game from the I-formation (or two tight ends with one back) on early downs and appears to be very left-handed with its zone-blocking scheme behind tackle Brandon Scherff and guard Conor Boffelli.

The Hawkeyes have a solid one-two punch at running back with 236-pound junior Mark Weisman, a former fullback who arrived in Iowa City as a walk-on after initially attending Air Force, and Damon Bullock, a 200-pound junior who was a two-star recruit as a Texas high schooler. Weisman is a pure power back without much wiggle, but Bullock has quick feet and acceleration who provides a nice change of pace and is a weapon in the passing game.

As usual, Iowa has a solid corps of receivers with good size, though the best by far is also one of the shortest. That would be 6-0, 205-pound junior Kevonte Martin-Manley, a dangerous playmaker who brings pretty much everything you want at the position. He's fast and strong with good ball skills and the ability to make people miss. He's also at least statistically one of the nation's top punt returners thanks to burning Western Michigan for a pair of touchdowns.

Martin-Manley is by far the most productive receiver as he has more than twice as many catches (26) as any other Hawkeye (Bullock has 13), but junior Damond Powell could be an emerging threat. He is a speedster who transferred from a junior college after prepping at Toledo Rogers. He has 225 yards on only six catches, including a 74-yarder for a touchdown.

In CJ Fedorowicz and Ray Hamilton (from Strongsville), they have a pair of good tight ends who can block and have combined for 17 catches for 185 yards.

Under Davis, they have added some no-huddle and get in the shotgun more but seem to fall into the trap that Ohio State used to of being kind of formation-predictable. As mentioned, they dabble with some zone read but generally throw from the shotgun and run from under center, though they do still like to run bootlegs for Rudock, who can be dangerous on the edge if someone doesn't stay home and keep contain.

Defensively, Iowa still runs a 4-3 but isn't as married to Cover 2 as it was under legendary coordinator Norm Parker.

You'll see safety John Lowdermilk (a junior from Carrollton, Ohio) in the box frequently, and the Hawkeyes are not afraid to press with their corners from time to time.

Like most corners, senior B.J. Lowery (from Cincinnati Hughes) likes to play aggressively, but he was beaten for a couple of explosive plays in the Minnesota game when he missed jams at the line of scrimmage and was beaten deep by Michigan State as well. In off man or zone, he's not afraid to jump a route and took a pair of passes to the house against Western Michigan.

The front four is stout but doesn't wow you with talent. The strong-side DE Dominic Alvis is a nice player who leads the team with two sacks. As a team, they only have six sacks on the season. Look for them to stunt up front on most passing downs.

All three linebackers are seniors who play every down, including SLB Christian Kirksey, who will lineup over the slot against spread formations. The line does a good job setting the table for middle linebacker James Morris, a four-year starter who reads and reacts very quickly, and fellow veteran Anthony Hitchens, who leads the team by far with 59 tackles and has a team-high 5.5 tackles for loss.

The linebackers are obviously involved a lot in pass coverage and Morris has three interceptions to tie Lowery for the team lead.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories