LB Abdul Hodge
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
32-29, 5 years
2003 Record: 10-3
at Iowa State WON 40-21
at Michigan State LOST 10-20
at Ohio State LOST 10-19
at Purdue LOST 14-27
at Wisconsin WON 27-21
Florida WON 37-17

2003 Final Rankings
AP-8, Coaches-8, BCS-13

2004 Outlook

In six seasons, Ferentz has brought a program that had hit the rocks when Hayden Fry stepped down back to elite status. He also helped lay part of the foundation for the Baltimore Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl season as an assistant head coach there before taking the Iowa job. The question now is, how far he can take this program?

This team should be a good indicator. Most programs lose what this one did, and the next year they're fighting just to get into a bowl. This one will fare much better. And fans are talking as much about 2005 as they are about '04. Rumored for jobs in the NFL and at Nebraska, but don't expect Ferentz to leave before '05 as he returns a team that will have the look of a national-title contender. That's also son Brian's senior year.

His youthful offense will be tested early, so a 2-2 start isn't out of the question. The final two games, at the Metrodome and then at Kinnick Stadium against Wisconsin, will be another good measurement for this team's growth since September. By then, barring another injury plague, the passing game will have gelled and the O-line will be more cohesive. But with pretty much the hardest schedule of all Big Ten slates, Iowa's 2004 record may not reflect the team's true strength. Look for NCAA rankings to be a more honest portrayal of their eventual qualities, for Iowa's team developments will be transparent as to how they measure up these ways. Hawkeye fans must remember this as they reflect next January back on a season that may have, by then, seemed marginal.

Projected 2004 record: 7-4
QB - 3 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Drew Tate, 11-6-0, 55 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Jermelle Lewis, 46 att., 241 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Calvin Davis, 23 rec., 330 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: WR Matt Melloy, 3 TD’s, 18 pts.

Punting: David Bradley, 79 punts, 40.8 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Abdul Hodge, 141 tot., 83 solo, 9 TFL

Sacks: Matt Roth, 12 sacks

Interceptions: Jovon Johnson, 6 for 81 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Marcus Schnoor, 5 ret., 17.8 avg.

Punt Returns: Ed Hinkel, 3 ret., 6.7 avg.


LB Chad Greenway
OFFENSE: Maurice Brown-WR, Robert Gallery-OT, Eric Rothwell-C, Sam Aiello-OT, Erik Jensen-TE, Nathan Chandler-QB, Ramon Ochoa-WR, Fred Russell-RB, Edgar Cervantes-FB, Nate Kaeding-K
DEFENSE: Howard Hodges-DE, Jared Clauss-DT, Grant Steen-OLB, Bob Sanders-SS, Chris Smith-SS

A new starter at QB is a trend that's marked the Kirk Ferentz era. For the fifth straight season a new name will lead the offense, but for the first time it won't be a senior. The likely heir apparent to Nathan Chandler will be true sophomore Drew Tate, the most prolific passer in Texas high school history. Tate felt that starting four years in a spread offense at Robert E. Lee High, the same school that wrought Ell Roberson, helped him see the field better and adjust more quickly to the college game than expected. Ferentz has officially made this a four-man QB derby, with sophs Eric McCollom, Cy Phillips and Jason Manson also in the mix. Don't expect the talented McCollom, who saw time at receiver before suffering an undisclosed injury, to be kept off the field if Tate wins the job.

Running Back
Jermelle Lewis, who missed the first seven games last year due to knee surgery, will take over for two-time 1,000-yarder Fred Russell. Lewis eventually averaged 5.2 yards per carry, an encouraging sign that the knee is fine. And he's multi-dimensional (Russell caught just six passes). Redshirt freshman Albert Young should be the backup. With 4.4 speed, Young should also be a target for Tate. As a sophomore two years ago, Lewis teamed with Russell to form the most productive backfield duo in school history. Lewis and Young should resemble that one-two punch, complicating things for opposing defenses.

Wide Receiver
This group needs some work, but the talent will surface with Tate at the helm. The Hawkeyes were 11th in the Big Ten in passing offense, thanks to injuries. The injuries did present an opportunity to develop several of this campaign's returning WRs, and good thing - last year's leading receivers are gone. Soph Calvin Davis has deep threat potential. He will stretch the field, for he won nine in-state track titles (100 meters in 10.73). Lining up opposite Davis will be Ed Hinkle, a possession guy who began '03 atop the depth chart, but was limited to six starts due to a groin injury. These two have the jets and the mitts to spread defenses and open things up for the running game and underneath routes. Others on the depth chart bode well for speed and hands, so expect more and you will likely see such - just wait for time to aid the learning curve for all on this side of the ball so the WRs can flourish.

Tight End
Junior Mike Follett and senior Tony Jackson, though not starters, played in every '03 game and will split time this fall. Follett is a former outside backer who runs the 40 in 4.6 and should be a part of the passing scheme. Jackson, on the other hand, is a 265-pounder who will be used primarily to open holes for Lewis and Young.

Offensive Line
There's plenty of beef, but little cohesion up front for a unit that's reloading for the second straight year. Seven 300-pounders are among the 10 linemen likely to fill top two slots on the depth chart. That doesn't include center Brian Ferentz, the head coach's son who returns after missing the final seven games due to a knee injury. David Walker is back at left guard after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3. RG Pete McMahon is the lone senior up front. Mike Jones filled in nicely at left guard for Walker but will be moved to left tackle to replace graduated Outland Trophy recipient Robert Gallery. There's more experience here, overall, than last fall. Even without Gallery, this unit can pave the way for a gritty running game and keep pressure off a young QB. But a few injuries would be like sugar in the gas tank for a group that still has to learn how to play together.

This gutted O has enough holes to fill a doughnut factory. But victories in the recruiting wars have turned a rebuilding year into a reloading one. With more speed at the skill positions, and several Big Ten defenses on the makeover, this unit might even be that much more successful in the 'W' column. It will certainly be more balanced, with the tight end and running back spots more involved in the passing game, as well as a dual backfield threat. There's depth everywhere, a silver lining in some of last fall's injuries. And there are variables, with McCollom a possibility to line up anywhere. Despite its youth, Iowa will fare much better than eighth in the conference in offense.


RB Jermelle Lewis


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Drew Tate-So (6-0, 185) Jason Manson-So (6-1, 195)
FB Champ Davis-So (6-2, 237) Aaron Mickens-Sr (5-10, 232)
RB Jermelle Lewis-Sr (5-11, 216) Marcus Schnoor-Jr (6-1, 205)
WR Ed Hinkel-Jr (6-1, 188) Matt Melloy-Jr (6-3, 211)
WR Calvin Davis-So (6-1, 199) Warren Holloway-Sr (5-10, 188)
TE Tony Jackson-Sr (6-3, 265) Mike Follett-Jr (6-5, 257)
OT Lee Gray-Jr (6-6, 315) C.J. Barkema-Jr (6-8, 295)
OG Mike Jones-So (6-5, 304) Ben Cronin-Jr (6-5, 288)
C Mike Elgin-So (6-4, 267) Brian Ferentz-Jr (6-2, 282) inj.
OG Chris Felder-So (6-7, 303) Blake Larsen-Jr (6-7, 311)
David Walker-Jr (6-2, 303) inj.
OT Pete McMahon-Sr (6-7, 333) Greg Dollmeyer-So (6-8, 284)
K Kyle Schlicher-So (5-9, 184) ..
Jermelle Lewis....JIR-mel
Kyle Schlicher....SCHLIK-ir
Marcus Schnoor....SCH-noor
Mike Follett....FAH-let
Brian Ferentz....FAIR-ints
Greg Dollmeyer....DOLE-my-ir



Defensive Line
The front-four will be quick and interchangeable. Left end Matt Roth was the Big Ten's No. 2 pass-rusher with 12 sacks. The rest of the line is minus two starters, but returnees Jonathon Babineaux, Tyler Luebke, Matt Neubauer and Derreck Robinson each got starts inside. Each of the four has also seen time at end, and Neubauer is a converted linebacker. Babineaux, a former end who moved inside last year and started the first seven games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, will move back outside. But expect the staff to constantly shuffle the deck to utilize the overall speed of this group and overwhelm slower O-lines. Finishing eighth in the entire NCAA for rushing defense may not occur, but results will be similar in impact. Early tilts with ASU and Michigan will make for trial-by-fire lessons that will pay off in the campaign's ladder half.

All-Big Ten backers Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge are back to form one of the most fierce LB duos in the Big Ten. Hodge calls himself the "Hitman," and with 4.5-40 speed, he has the range to take out anybody from the Mike position. Greenway moves over to the strongside. Hodge led the Big Ten in tackles, and Greenway was third, indicating the hogs up front are allowing these guys to roam free and clean up the garbage. So, unless this year's bigmen can also garner constant double-teams, don't expect the same production levels. Senior George Lewis, a senior, could be a weak link next to Hodge and Greenway.

Defensive Back
This could be the best defensive backfield in school history, even with the losses. The Big Ten's top scoring defense was somewhat vulnerable to the pass, but that won't again be the case. Juniors Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson are back at the corners. Johnson, an undersized playmaker, is the top cover guy. He was second in the conference with six picks as a soph. Allen is a solid open field tackler. Free safety Sean Considine, regarded as the brains of the secondary, returns as well. The last role could be filled by juco-transfer Wallner Belleus, a cover corner who dominates in bump-and-run coverage. Expect this unit to be the defensive barometer all can follow.

Iowa runs a basic 4-3, with two-deeps their pass-coverage of preference. Fast and experienced are the two adjectives that keep popping up here. There's no reason this defense, which carried this team in '03, won't be stronger. Especially with an offense that puts a little less pressure on it. The D gave up some yards, especially through the air, but led the Big Ten in scoring defense, red-zone defense and fourth-down stops. Finding an adequate weakside backer and a strong safety are the keys, as are more defensive TDs (only two last year, both fumble returns). But there's plenty of young talent around to fill any holes. Expect plenty of three-and-outs and good field position for the O.


DE Matt Roth


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Derreck Robinson-Sr (6-5, 287) Ken Iwebema-Fr (6-4, 242)
DT Tyler Luebke-Sr (6-1, 278) Alex Wilcox-Fr (6-2, 280)
DT Jonathan Babineaux-Sr (6-2, 287) Derreck Robinson-Sr (6-5, 287)
DE Matt Roth-Sr (6-4, 270) Bryan Mattison-Fr (6-3, 242)
OLB George Lewis-Sr (6-2, 237) Mike Humpal-Fr (6-2, 227)
MLB Abdul Hodge-Jr (6-2, 232) Mike Klinkenborg-Fr (6-2, 230)
WLB Chad Greenway-Jr (6-4, 239) Edmond Miles-So (6-1, 222)
CB Jovon Johnson-Jr (5-9, 177) Chigozie Ejiasi-Sr (6-0, 199)
CB Antwan Allen-Jr (5-10, 180) Walner Belleus-Jr (5-10, 180)
SS Marcus Paschal-So (6-0, 205) Miguel Merrick-So (6-0, 197)
FS Sean Considine-Sr (6-0, 206) Andrew Becker-So (6-1, 201)
P David Bradley-Sr (6-2, 204) ..
Tyler Luebke....LUBE-kee
Jonathan Babineaux....BAB-uh-no
Jovon Johnson....juh-VON
Marcus Paschal....PASS-cull
Ken Iwebema....I-wuh-BEE-muh
Mike Humpal....HUM-pull
Chigozie Ejiasi....chik-O-say E-jee-OZ-e
Walner Belleus....BELL-us
Miguel Merrick....mee-GELL




Forget Gallery, Sanders, Chandler and Russell. The hardest Hawkeye to replace will be two-time Groza Award winner Nate Kaeding. Still, only five of Iowa's games in the last two years were decided by six points or fewer, meaning Kaeding wasn't the franchise, and replacement Kyle Schlicher, a redshirt sophomore, won't have to be either.

Solid special teams have been one of the cornerstones of Ferentz's success, and this group is a reflection of that emphasis. David Bradley returns for his fourth tour, and his average punt numbers have improved steadily since his freshman year. This unit has only allowed one block the past two seasons, and was fourth in the Big Ten in net punting in '03.

Return Game
Ochoa took 40 of the 48 punt returns, but accounted for just one of the team's four TDs. On kickoffs, Iowa was second in the conference at 22.2 yards per return, with Ochoa getting the majority of the opportunities. Expect Davis and Hinkle, the punt return specialist in '02, to man the return spots. The overall team speed and, more importantly, the special teams emphasis, is there for both units to pick up where they left off regardless of who gets the call.


The QB derby gave no concrete answer heading into fall camp. Jason Manson had the better spring game, delivering a perfect seven-of-seven for 139 yards and three TDs, while competitor Drew Tate finished 6 of 9 for 83 yards. Tate is credited with being more polished (and having more moxie), while Manson has a better grip on the offense. Regardless of the winner, the competition has made each QB stronger. RB is loaded with talent. Jermelle Lewis is the senior leader, but Nebraska-transfer Marques Simmons exploded this spring and will give him a push (after serving a one-game suspension). Redshirt frosh Albert Young is also in the mix. The Hawkeyes are contemplating moving FB Champ Davis over to TE. Iowa may be plagued with the loss of two anticipated returning starters on the offensive line. Center Brian Ferentz was sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, while OG David Walker has a ruptured Achilles- both are likely to miss most (if not all) of 2004.

The recent death of Jeff Parker, son of DC Norm Parker, has taken an emotional toll on the coach and members of the team. Our regards and best wishes go out to the Parker family. Letterman DE Matt Neubauer has decided to leave, seeking other academic opportunities. Backup MLB Zach Gabelmann underwent knee surgery to repair a torn ACL, prompting RSF Mike Klinkenborg to his post. Look out for incoming freshman Kyle Williams to give him a run for it in the fall. SS Marcus Paschal has made progress in efforts of replacing Bob Sanders. Coaches say he's a hitter just like Sanders, and once he gets a feel for the defense, he'll fit in well. JUCO stud CB Walner Belleus steps in to help shore the depth in the secondary.

** NOTE - Iowa's historic Kinnick Stadium will be undergoing renovations that are set to be completed in time for the 2006 season.

LB Kyle Williams (fr)
CB Walner Belleus (jr)
C Todd Plagman (rsf)