QB Drew Tate
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
42-31 ,6 years
2004 Record: 10-2
at Arizona State LOST 7-44
at Michigan LOST 17-30
at Penn State WON 6-4
at Illinois WON 23-13
at Minnesota WON 29-27
vs. Louisiana State WON 30-25

2004 Final Rankings
AP-8, Coaches-8, BCS-12

2005 Outlook

After going 11-24 in his first three seasons at Iowa, Ferentz has finally fulfilled expectations by leading this program to a 31-7 record the past three. The Hawkeyes have finished in the top 10 in each of those seasons and shared the Big Ten title in two. This was without ever landing a recruiting class ranked higher than No. 35 (SuperPrep). That changed this winter; Ferentz completed his first top-10 group, another sign that this program will remain a conference and national power.

You could also point to last fall as a sign. Despite rebuilding with a young but talented group, Iowa went 10-2 and beat LSU on a last-second TD pass. Kinnick Stadium is under a renovation project that won't be completed until 2006, but this team genuinely appears ready to challenge for the national title now. Tate has proven to be the trigger-puller that is right for this methodical offense, and the back-seven will be enough to bolster the green front line. The defense has three non-conference warm-ups to get it together, or the conference slate will quickly take the Hawkeyes out of any races in which they thought they could stay. And, of course, in the Big Ten, the second half only gets tougher. Tested early, this team will build character via confidence and tough wins, making them feared as mid-season rolls around.

Iowa has an experienced quarterback? Wow, Kirk Ferentz will be afforded the luxury to build a scheme around already-developed talent - a novelty at Iowa these days. This should worry foes. The running game and the defensive line are the biggest areas of concern, but there's enough talent in both areas (and around each) to keep things afloat. Even with the plague of injuries in the backfield, Iowa solidified any doubt about its commitment to the ground dimension by running the ball 43 more times that it threw - expect even more of the same classic approach. Accordingly, the Hawkeyes will be even more effective at letting the run set up the pass, resulting in more points, which should make up for any slippage on the defensive side of the ball. Expectations of another BCS bowl are not excessive, which would also mean the first outright Big Ten title under Ferentz, and a likely swirl of speculation (once again) of Ferentz's return to the NFL. The Hawkeye faithful realize that this much success could mean losing their vaunted head man, but we think they would gladly make that trade if offered the chance to have one championship season before he went. Hmm, tough trade…

Projected 2005 record: 9-2
QB - 4 DL - 3
RB - 2.5 LB - 5
WR - 4 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Drew Tate, 375-233-14, 2786 yds., 20 TD

Rushing: Sam Brownlee, 94 att., 227 yds., 0 TD

Receiving: Ed Hinkel, 63 rec., 744 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Kyle Schlicher, 21-26 FG, 29-32 FG, 92 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Kyle Schlicher, 21-26 FG, 29-32 FG, 92 pts.

Tackles: Abdul Hodge, 116 tot., 79 solo

Sacks: Abdul Hodge, Chad Greenway, 3 each

Interceptions: Antwan Allen, 4 for 54 yds.; Jovon Johnson, 4 for 13 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Damian Sims, 6 ret., 20.3 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Ed Hinkel, 22 ret., 11.8 avg., 0 TD


LB Abdul Hodge
OFFENSE: Jermelle Lewis-RB, Aaron Mickens-FB, Warren Holloway-WR, Tony Jackson-TE, Pete McMahon-OT, Lee Gray-OT (injured)
DEFENSE: Derreck Robinson-DE, Tyler Luebke-DT, Jonathan Babineaux-DT, Matt Roth-DE, George Lewis-OLB, Sean Considine-FS, David Bradley-P

After five years with five different guys under center, the Hawkeyes finally have a mainstay. The expectations for junior Drew Tate soared after the Texan burst onto the scene with a sophomore season that will be tough to top, but will be assuredly matched. He became Iowa's first all-Big Ten sophomore QB since Chuck Long in '83, and that's produced enough yardage for Tate to already rank among the school's top-10 career passers. And all of that was with a non-existent running game. The ground support will be there this fall, but, regardless, Tate is definitively the fuel that makes this engine purr. If Tate goes down, backup Jason Manson, who will be in his fourth year with this offense (though he's attempted just one career pass) comes in. Manson had an 89-5 career TD-INT ratio in prep (Connecticut state record nine TDs in one game), so his obvious talent just needs a little fine tuning if inserted. The heir apparent is Lockport, Ill., recruit Jake Christensen, a top-10 prospect who will likely redshirt. Either of these QBs makes an offensive shift occur, as each runs effectively, the one thing Tate doesn't really do. This fact is more aimed to warn opponents than to inform fans - a change would work, and foes had better realize the dimensions available to this offense given a QB switch.

Running Back
The stockpile of talent here has been tested - back after back was replaced as the guy in front of each went down. The result was a two yards per carry average. But stability and battle scars, along with defenses kept honest by Tate, should easily vault Iowa back into a top ground team. The talent is there and ready - and healthy again! Nothing in this arsenal packs more potential boom than redshirt sophomore Albert Young, a two-dimensional threat who can't seem to stay healthy. After missing the '03 season with a leg injury, Young played in just three games before becoming one of four (yes, four) Iowa backs to undergo knee surgery last fall. With plenty of time to recuperate, he will be back and strong. Young will be a dangerous target for Tate out of the backfield. Marcus Schnoor and Marques Simmons return after their knee surgeries, as does senior Sam Brownlee, a former walk-on who started the last five games. None of those three has Young's eye-popping talent, but each fit in the dependable category when healthy. Tom Busch, a 5-11 redshirt soph, takes over at fullback after proving to be an option on the ground and in the passing game despite his lack of size. If Tate could lead this team to 10 wins without a running game, it's scary to think what he might do with one (and a strong line, see below).

The potential here is scary, and Tate will get to work with his two favorite targets once again. With sure hands and breakaway speed, leading wideout Ed Hinkel will keep opposing secondaries busy. His counterpart, lanky Clinton Solomon, is a deep threat who will occupy safeties, or burn them accordingly. This unit will spread the field that much more with the return of junior speedster Calvin Davis, who had a promising '03 but was sidelined by a leg injury as a soph. Eric McCollom, a talented all-around guy who backed up Tate last fall, will be tough to stop as an underneath target. With or without a ground game, this unit will be difficult to match up against and is good enough to create even more impressive numbers for Tate.

Tight End
This is the same offense that made Dallas Clark a first-round draft pick, and the Black and Gold still like to get big plays out of the TE spot. Scott Chandler, a 6-7 junior, emerged with fellow Texan Tate last fall, making a 13.5 yards per grab average the bane of LBs and safeties. He's another sure-handed, dangerous target, and he'll (benefit) from/help spread defenses. Chandler is not known as a ferocious blocker. That's more of a role for senior Mike Follett, who will see plenty of time when Iowa goes to its frequent double-tight sets. Anthony Moeaki comes in anew this fall, and is highly touted enough (Rivals.com No.2 TE) to get reps.

Offensive Line
After two years of rebuilding, there's finally some cohesion up front. That's good news for what has been a marginally weak link. Having some raw size up front doesn't hurt, either. Four starters (and a total of four seniors in the two-deep chart) are back from a unit that should improve on its - ouch! - Big Ten-worst 40 sacks. There are four other returnees who got starts last fall. While developing linemen has been a constant during the Ferentz era, don't be surprised if someone - like Juco-transfer Marshal Yanda or highly-touted recruits Dan Doering and Dace Richardson - end up starting at right tackle. Inexperience led to a tough campaign for this group, but there won't be a repeat as long as Ferentz is on the sidelines to develop these diamonds in the rough and mix them in with the solid veterans.

With every excuse to fail in his first year as starter, Tate emerged as one of the best young passers in the game. Barring injury, there's no reason he shouldn't exceed last year's accomplishments, even with the expectation bar raised considerably. Now, Tate will have even more time to throw, experienced receivers open all over the field, and a dually-capable running corps to provide the balance that was missing in '04. Any hopes for a Big Ten (and therefore national) title rest with Tate. The offensive dimensions he brings to this side of the ball are rather conventional, but he has them down pat. Coach Ferentz will continue to pound the running game to set up Tate's passing options…if he can win 10 games this way with a barely functioning ground game, think of what this crew will achieve come September. Consistency will again be the key to any success.


WR Clinton Solomon


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Drew Tate-Jr (6-0, 185) Jason Manson-Jr (6-1, 195)
FB Tom Busch-So (5-11, 231) Paul Wilson-Sr (5-11, 242)
RB Marques Simmons-Sr (5-8, 202)
Albert Young-So (5-10, 207)
Marcus Schnoor-Sr (6-1, 198)
Sam Brownlee-Jr (5-10, 200)
Damian Sims-So (5-9, 185)
WR Clinton Solomon-Sr (6-3, 196) Calvin Davis-Jr (6-1, 197)
WR Ed Hinkel-Sr (6-1, 190) Matt Melloy-Sr (6-3, 208)
Herb Grigsby-So (6-0, 170)
TE Ryan Majerus-Jr (6-3, 245) Scott Chandler-Jr (6-7, 242)
OT Ben Gates-Sr (6-6, 286) Nyere Aumaitre-Fr (6-5, 290)
OG Ben Cronin-Sr (6-5, 285) David Walker-Sr (6-2, 295)
C Brian Ferentz-Sr (6-3, 282) Todd Plagman-So (6-3, 295)
OG Mike Elgin-Jr (6-4, 277) Seth Olson-Fr (6-5, 297)
OT Mike Jones-Jr (6-5, 299) Marshal Yanda-Jr (6-4, 305)
K Kyle Schlicher-Jr (5-9, 179) ..



Defensive Line
It wouldn't be a Ferentz team without at least one unit starting from scratch (his specialty). While it's true that few players in this game are irreplaceable, you're still going to take a step back when you have to replace an entire starting group that was one of the best in the country (ranked 5th in run stopping). "People are making a big deal out of it," defensive coordinator Norm Parker said before the Capital One Bowl. "You just take the best four guys you got, throw them out there, and that's what it is." So simple and so true, especially now. He'll toss a quartet of inexperienced redshirt sophomores out there in DEs Ken Iwebema (4.75-sec 40) and Bryan Mattison (4.8), along with unrated newbies DTs Alex Willcox and George Eshareturi. None of these guys is overwhelmingly huge, but their emphasis up front is typically on speed, and this group is quick. Richard "The Big Human" Kittrell, who missed last year with an ACL tear and academic problems, and incoming DE stud Ryan Bain should also be key parts of a rotation that will take its lumps in September, but be sturdy by midseason.

There's no dropoff here as this unit will again be the heart and soul of the defense. MLB Abdul "Hitman" Hodge and weakside backer Chad Greenway, all-Big Ten the past two seasons, earns NC.net first team all-American honors, even without a stellar D-line capable of garnering multiple double-teams. Hodge, the defensive leader and an NC.net third-teamer, was fourth in the conference in tackles. Greenway was seventh, and his strong coverage skills helped him to pile up three INTs and five pass breakups. Ed Miles, a high school wrestling and power-lifting standout with 4.6 speed, takes over at the "leo" spot after two starts last fall. These guys are bone-rattlers who cover a lot of territory, including on short routes (opponents averaged just 10.3 yards per catch). With the inexperience up front, they'll have to fight a lot harder to keep up with last year's numbers. This will be especially true in the early going, as foes pound the running game to sucker them into the box, which will allow them to exploit the areas left open. Iowa can win only if these guys are able to roam and not made to baby-sit.

Defensive Back
This group will be a strength once again as three starting DBs from the No.3 pass defense in the conference (and No.17 pass efficiency defense in all I-A) return. These guys will be stingy enough to force opponents to focus on running against that young line, which will allow Parker to flood the box. They'll still be at the top of their game even when the line doesn't get much pressure on the QB. Seniors Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson are back at the corners. Johnson is the shut-down guy; he's four picks shy of the Iowa career mark shared by Nile Kinnick. Deadly in the open field, Allen was fourth on the team with 41 solo stops. Tall, talented Marcus Paschal is back after taking over at strong safety last fall, and quick Miguel Merrick would be a nice fit at the open free safety spot. There's plenty of depth here, so expect frequent nickel and dime looks, which would allow the LBs to be in the box as needed. Wallner Bellenus, a special teams maven, has the ability to come in and be a shut-down corner in three- and four-receiver sets.

Not many teams will be able to throw against this secondary and linebacker group. Problem is, Iowa doesn't play in the WAC. If the line doesn't grow up fast, even Hodge and company will struggle to contain the run, and opponents won't need to pass. But don't expect disaster. This program has made its mark developing (to their fullest potential[s]) middle-of-the-pack-ranked recruiting groups. With all the attention on the front four entering the spring, Parker is sure to have a steady/worthy group in place by kickoff Sept. 3. The Hawkeyes will be easier to run against up front, but they'll still be stingy enough to keep this team near the top of both the conference standings and the polls. If the line steps up early, the Hawkeyes have a chance at the BCS regardless of whether they win the conference or not.


LB Chad Greenway


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Kenny Iwebema-So (6-4, 255) Jacob Spratt-So (6-2, 245)
DT Matt Kroul-Fr (6-3, 267) Alex Willcox-So (6-2, 280)
Ettore Ewen-Fr (6-0, 280)
DT Nate Roos-Sr (6-0, 280) Mitch King-Fr (6-3, 250)
DE Bryan Mattison-So (6-3, 262) Mike Follett-Sr (6-5, 255)
OLB Edmond Miles-Jr (6-1, 228) Chris Kuehl-So (6-2, 230)
MLB Abdul Hodge-Sr (6-2, 234) Zachary Gabelmann-Jr (6-1, 227)
WLB Chad Greenway-Sr (6-4, 244) Mike Klinkenborg-So (6-2, 230)
Mike Humpal-So (6-2, 225)
CB Jovon Johnson-Sr (5-9, 177) Bradley Fletcher-Fr (6-2, 195)
CB Antwan Allen-Sr (5-10, 180) Adam Shada-So (6-1, 180)
SS Miguel Merrick-Jr (6-0, 201) Marcus Paschal-Jr (6-0, 199) (inj.)
FS Charles Godfrey-So (6-1, 202) Andrew Becker-Jr (6-1, 201)
P Andy Fenstermaker-Jr (6-3, 221) John Gallery-Sr (6-2, 240)




Junior Kyle Schlicher improved drastically as the season progressed. He hit 21-of-26 field goals, missing just once inside 39 yards, yet only going 3-of-7 from 40+. Along with missing three PATs and having two kicks blocked, much has to be tightened up here if this facet is to avoid losing the team a few close ones. Kickoff coverage was stellar (19.5 yards per return and no TDs), and should again be a help to a defense susceptible to the run.

Ferentz has some holes to fill here if he wants to continue the trend of near-flawless special teams play he's enjoyed during his tenure. Four-year mainstay David Bradley is gone, as is long-snapper Cody Asmus. John Gallery, the younger brother of first-round NFL draft pick Robert, is the likely pick to take over.

Return Game
Despite splitting opportunities with Hinkel, talented Juco-transfer Belleus emerged as the playmaker needed here. He had the team's lone return TD, going 83 yards on a punt return. He was second in the Big Ten in punt return average (17.0) but averaged only 18 on kicks.