QB Drew Tate
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
49-36, 7 years
2005 Record: 7-5
at Iowa State LOST 3-23
at Ohio State LOST 6-31
at Purdue WON 34-17
at Northwestern LOST 27-28
at Wisconsin WON 20-10
vs. Florida LOST 24-31

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2006 Outlook

Like his basketball counterpart there in Iowa City (Steve Alford), Kirk Ferentz can never escape speculation about that possible “next gig” whenever his team gets hot. Heck, with so much gritty success, we thought he would never be allowed to leave. Still, questions pertaining to Coach Kirk’s commitment predictably dominated the post-game interviews at the Outback Bowl, though Ferentz and his players were already together in looking ahead to this fall. "If he was going to leave," Drew Tate said, referring to his head coach and mentor, "he would have left a long time ago."

Photo updates of the Kinnick Stadium renovation (purported to be completed by the home opener) are readily available online. Likewise, we've been able to watch the same slow building of this program back into a national power under Ferentz. Last year's 7-5 mark can be perceived as a step back, considering many of us were thinking top-10 finish. Then again, Ferentz has always succeeded in getting the most out of his players, usually via developing recruiting classes generally ranked in the top 30 or 40 nationally. Maybe it all caught up to the Hawkeyes last year, but the football played at Iowa still drips with integrity and promise.

The bar has been lowered to a more realistic level this year, and this group can certainly meet and exceed those projections. A tough O-line and an explosive backfield led by Albert Young will key one of the best rushing attacks in the Big Ten. This is a relatively simple offense that passes to set up the run, so the average group of receivers shouldn't be too much of a concern, not with an experienced QB like Tate to get them the ball.

The offense could have to make up for some shortcomings on defense, especially early on as new faces at LB and DB learn the hard way. That could lead to some rough times in September for a team that needs to do a better job in the early going. Iowa is 13-10 since 2000 in games played in the ninth month (2002’s lone regular season loss was to rival ISU 36-31 on 9/14/02, or the Hawkeyes would have been in the championship mix.) Last year, surprising blowout losses to Ohio State and Iowa State lowered expectations pretty quickly. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, their first four contests are relatively easy, with the exception of a Week 3 rematch with a strong Iowa State at home. "We need to do better in September," Ferentz said after the Outback Bowl. "That's something that's been on my mind for quite some time.”

Iowa could easily be 4-0 heading into a home showdown with Ohio State, but watch out for State (won 15 in a row before this recent 2-6 skid versus the Cyclones). Penn State and Michigan State are off the schedule, and the biggest conference road test comes Oct. 21 at Ann Arbor. By then, this team should be firing on all cylinders. An undefeated record seems too much to ask, but a share of the Big Ten title is an achievable goal.

If they can gel quicker than anticipated, Ferentz could be in line for more coach-of-the-year accolades, as well as more questions about his future. There's already talk of Browns GM Phil Savage, who once worked with Ferentz in Baltimore, luring him to Cleveland if current coach Romeo Crennel struggles. Then again, we'll probably be making speculations about Ferentz in the 2016 Iowa preview. "[NFL teams] offered him complete control, I'm sure, a long time ago," Tate said. "Why does[n’t] he want to leave? He does whatever he wants now." And what Ferentz wants is wins in Iowa City, and this classy ball coach makes this program a winner, regardless.

Projected 2006 record: 10-2
QB - 4.5 DL - 4.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Drew Tate, 352-219-7, 2828 yds., 22 TD

Rushing: Albert Young, 249 att., 1334 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: Scott Chandler, 47 rec., 552 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Kyle Schlicher, 17-21 FG, 43-44 PAT, 94 pts.

Punting: Andy Fenstermaker, 49 punts, 38.5 avg.

Kicking: Kyle Schlicher, 17-21 FG, 43-44 PAT, 94 pts.

Tackles: Edmond Miles, 68 tot., 37 solo

Sacks: Kenny Iwebema, 7 sacks

Interceptions: Adam Shada, 3 for 9 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Damian Sims, 12 ret., 20.1 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Herb Grigsby, 2 ret., 5.5 avg., 0 TD


DB Marcus Paschal
OFFENSE: Marcus Schnoor-RB, Clinton Solomon-WR, Ed Hinkel-WR, Ben Gates-OT, Brian Ferentz-C
DEFENSE: Mike Follett-DE, Abdul Hodge-LB, Chad Greenway-LB, Jovon Johnson-CB, Antwan Allen-CB

Like the Hawkeyes in general, Drew Tate might have had unrealistic expectations heaped upon him heading into last season. No doubt the undersized Texan is a skilled leader with excellent arm strength. But he's never shown consistent accuracy, he's not much of a threat to run, and he's always lacked a reliable receiving corps. Tate is more of a gritty thrower who seems to be at his best when his team's collective back is against the wall, and that's not a bad thing, necessarily. With a solid line protecting him, and an efficient ground game to balance things out, he has the potential to take this team to another 10-win season as a senior. His accuracy and decision-making will continue to improve (given his age, a stronger supporting cast and lowered expectations). Tate will still be among the Big Ten's best bets at QB, but all is not lost if he's lost. Senior backup Jason Manson returns after seeing action in seven games last season. In his limited time on the field, Manson ran for enough yards to be the team's fifth-leading rusher. He'll be pushed by redshirt freshman Jake Christiansen, who is expected to take over for Tate next year. Though lacking in big-game experience, both reserves are bigger and quicker than Tate and add more mobility to the position. Expect rotations to help their future beyond ‘06, but if Tate gets hot, watch head coach Kirk Ferentz and OC Ken O’Keefe ride him until he falters.

Running Back
After a brief hiatus, Iowa's ground game has re-emerged. With a quality passer like Tate directing the air attack, this offense should be among the most balanced in the Big Ten. Albert Young, after two years of injuries, finally lived up to his Signing Day hype last fall with a four-digit rushing season. An explosive two-dimensional threat with 4.4 speed, Young’s compact, rugged body-type is a chore for most linebackers to deal with, especially on short routes out of the backfield. He had 24 grabs last year, but Iowa needs to get him more even involved in the passing game, especially early when their receivers are developing. Tate took more than half of the total rushing attempts last year. Damian Sims, a junior speedster, averaged 9.9 yards on 30 attempts, but true soph Shonn Greene is more of a complete back who could handle the load if Young is sidelined. Young got plenty of blocking from fullback Tom Busch, an occasional option on the run or pass who could be utilized more for optimal effect(s), especially with Young commanding so much attention.

It will be key, but not vital, for someone to emerge here. The top three returnees -- Herb Grigsby, Calvin Davis and Andy Brodell -- have some talent, but they're not battle-tested. Grigsby is the only member of the trio who has pulled in double-digit receptions at this level. A small, sure-handed guy, he's an ideal possession target, but he has the quickness to go deep, too. Davis, a senior speed demon, also has deep-threat potential, but he's flashed it sparingly. Brodell is a bigger target and should be used more in their vertical game, as could lanky redshirt frosh Trey Stross, a scout-team hero last fall. One of the primary needs coach Kirk Ferentz wanted to address during the recruiting season was speed, and he landed a pair of high school track champs in St. Louis' Paul Chaney and Detroit's Anthony Bowman. The deck here is stacked, but how will they play it? If Grigsby, Davis, Brodell, et al., flounder this spring, don't be surprised if Ferentz utilizes those true freshmen burners to stretch defenses so as to open up some room for the run.

Tight End
The WRs can get away with being an average lot, thanks to Young's hands and the pass-catching productivity that will come out of this unit. Expect Iowa to use plenty of two-TE sets, and not necessarily to aid in the run game. Converted wideout Scott Chandler, the team's leading receiver last year, is back, along with promising soph Tony Moeaki. Chandler is big, fast and will help spread out the middle for Young, while his blocking continues to come along. He'll line up primarily in the slot. Moeaki, once a four-star recruit, is better-rounded for dual effect and also has big potential. The Hawkeyes have fully utilized this variable during the Ferentz era and will continue to do so.

Offensive Line
The O-line will remain solid despite the loss of two key starters (at center and left tackle). There are plenty of experienced hogs to plug in there. Mike Elgin moves from right guard to center, his old spot, where he'll be looked upon to anchor the inside. The athletic senior is regarded as the best returning lineman here and should excel back at his natural position. Marshal Yanda and Mike Jones have settled in at right tackle and left guard, respectively, and will continue to learn and improve. Look for redshirt soph Seth Olsen to go to right guard and true soph Dace Richardson to step in at left tackle after getting plenty of reps in reserve last year. If Richardson can't guard Tate's blindside, look for tackle Lee Gray to step in, if he's granted a sixth-season of eligibility after missing last year with a knee injury. As improved as last season's line was, this one should retain the cohesion to better last year's 19 sacks allowed.

Even with a questionable group of wide receivers, Tate will chip away and eventually put up big numbers. If he can strengthen his consistency and accuracy to perform well for four solid quarters, this offense will improve on last season's already strong rankings in scoring offense (36th in nation), rushing (35th) and passing (27th). That, along with development at WR, will be the difference between a good season and a great season for this offense. The line will re-gel quickly, igniting a fast, explosive running attack as they do while their quality backs and TEs will be available all over the field for Tate. Defenses will struggle to contain this multi-dimensional offense, especially if someone emerges as a reliable deep-threat. (Note to Ferentz: Play the freshmen!) Coach Kirk seems to make offensive magic occur annually, and it is often with substantially less talent than what/those we see here.


RB Albert Young


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Drew Tate-Sr (6-0, 192) Jason Manson-Sr (6-1, 195)
FB Tom Busch-Jr (5-11, 231) Champ Davis-Sr (6-2, 238)
RB Albert Young-Jr (5-10, 209) Damian Sims-Jr (5-9, 185)
Shonn Greene-So (5-11, 225)
WR Calvin Davis-Sr (6-1, 197) Andy Brodell-So (6-3, 193)
WR Herb Grigsby-Jr (6-0, 175) Eric McCollom-Jr (6-0, 190)
TE Scott Chandler-Sr (6-7, 257) Tony Moeaki-So (6-4, 250)
OT Dace Richardson-So (6-6, 306) Andy Kuempel-Fr (6-7, 295)
OG Mike Jones-Sr (6-5, 302) Rashad Dunn-So (6-3, 290)
C Rafael Eubanks-Fr (6-3, 288) Rob Bruggeman-So (6-3, 280)
OG Mike Elgin-Sr (6-4, 288) Seth Olsen-So (6-5, 301)
OT Marshal Yanda-Sr (6-4, 305) Dan Doering-Fr (6-7, 290)
K Kyle Schlicher-Sr (5-9, 184) ..



Defensive Line
Expectations are high for this unit, which developed during last year's rebuilding project into the foundation for this entire eleven. If healthy, these guys will continue supplying the penetration that keyed the Big Ten's No. 3 run defense, while wreaking enough havoc to aid in the development of a rebuilding LB corps. Inside, undersized DTs Mitch King and Matt Kroul use their speed and athletic ability well to get into the backfield. Big, quick juniors Ken Iwebema and Bryan Mattison are a potentially devastating tandem of pass-rushing DEs, though containment will have to be their focus until the LBs settle in. Both ends can handle both aspects of line play well. With experienced youngsters Ryan Bain, Alex Kanellis and Ted Bentler back, and the addition of incoming frosh Adrian Clayborn, there's enough quality here for a solid rotation and therefore fresh legs for 60 minutes. Overall, this is a young but experienced group that will wear on opposing lines with its collective speed.

Converse to the D-line, this unit goes from foundation to perceived question mark with the departure of possibly the best duo in school history (Greenway and Hodge). The key here is senior Ed Miles, the starting strong-side backer. This former wrestler is small and quick but packs plenty of punch – he plays the run well, but has to learn the finesse of pass coverage before his potential is to be realized. Smaller junior Mike Humpal brings plenty of speed and coverage ability to the outside. Junior Mike Klinkenborg, another junior who steps in for Hodge in the middle, is a big athletic head hunter who just needs experience. “Klinky” is capable in all areas of defense, so watch his star as it quickly rises. Backups Zach Gabelmann and Pat Angerer aren't far behind Klinkenborg and Humpal, while incoming freshman Jeremiha Hunter is a super-quick four-star recruit out of Harrisburg who could make an immediate impact. These guys are blessed with a stellar front four and some relatively weak opponents the first two weeks. Both facts will quicken the gelling process and the adjustment to new roles. But early on, expect opposing QBs to have some success with shorter routes.

Defensive Back
While the attention is on the LBs, there's plenty of work to do here as well. Both CBs depart from a unit that ranked 96th in the nation against the pass. As typically occurs in this type of scenario, the Hawkeyes will bank on addition by subtraction. Adam Shada has shown flashes of playmaking ability; he moves into the shutdown-corner role after starting just three games. Seniors Marcus Paschal and Miguel Merrick return at the safety spots. Paschal, who had a solid season last fall despite coming off an ACL tear, has the ability to blossom into the standout player needed here. If he doesn't, Ferentz recruited four defensive backs, any of whom could step in right away. But none of his DB newbies have ranked above three-stars in the past two classes, so the work is cut out here (a classic Ferentz challenge). Pressure from the D-line will help this unit solidify, though these guys will have to sneak up to help the green LBs on underneath routes.

The top red-zone D in the Big Ten enabled Iowa to finish a mediocre 67th nationally in total defense, but a strong 22nd in scoring defense. Without leaders like Greenway and Hodge, it's tough to see that happening again, especially during the first half of the season as adjustments in the back seven will create holes for opponents. Moreover, if this coverage bends, it is likely to break. The fast, physical front four should keep the run in check, but will have to be stauncher until the secondary gets settled and the LBs master their roles/coverages. Once mastered, then the corps can traverse the run and/or the pass equally well, which is truly the key for how/why the last LBs were the cohesion of the D. Quick development of non-blue chippers, a mark of the Ferentz era, is the key at LB and DB. If the program can duplicate for the current back seven the same success it had last year with the green D-line, this defense could be one of the nation's biggest surprises. Realistically, though, there's going to be some kind of drop off (early) that will have to be made up for on the other side of the ball.


DE Ken Iwebema


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Ken Iwebema-Jr (6-4, 270) Alex Kanellis-So (6-4, 281)
DT Matt Kroul-So (6-3, 271) Ryan Bain-So (6-2, 282)
DT Mitch King-So (6-3, 264) Vernon Jackson-Fr (6-1, 265)
DE Bryan Mattison-Jr (6-3, 272) Justin Collins-Fr (6-2, 250)
OLB Edmond Miles-Sr (6-1, 228) Bryon Gattas-Jr (6-1, 232)
MLB Mike Klinkenborg-Jr (6-2, 240) Zach Gabelmann-Sr (6-1, 233)
WLB Mike Humpal-Jr (6-2, 232) Pat Angerer-Fr (6-1, 222)
CB Charles Godfrey-Jr (6-1, 208) Bradley Fletcher-So (6-2, 195)
CB Adam Shada-Jr (6-1, 185) Ma'Quan Dawkins-Sr (5-9, 166)
SS Miguel Merrick-Sr (6-0, 203) Devan Moylan-Sr (5-10, 201)
FS Marcus Paschal-Sr (6-0, 207) Marcus Wilson-Fr (6-3, 198)
P Andy Fenstermaker-Sr (6-3, 225) ..




Along with QB, RB and D-line, this area is the most secure for Iowa as second-team all-Big Ten kicker Kyle Schlicher returns. With the exception of a 30-yard miss in the Outback Bowl against Florida, he was money from within 40 while hitting at a respectable 3-for-6 clip from beyond 40. On KOs, his average kick made it to the 4, helping the coverage rank first in the conference. The senior could turn out to be the MVP of the defense due to field position wins.

While the defense often stopped opponents deep in Iowa territory, it didn't get much help in field position from Andy Fenstermacher, who was 10th (second to last) in the Big Ten. Fenstermacher, who eventually won the job from John Gallery last fall, did land nearly half of his kicks inside the 20, while coverage ranked fourth in the conference (a testament to the overall team speed, which remains strong this year). With Gallery still fighting for the job, Fenstermacher figures to be better as a senior, which will be a needed boost for a retooling defense.

Return Game
Look for the speedy Damian Sims to take on a larger role here. He split KOs with Young last year and averaged better than 20 yards per try for a return team ranked a dismal 115th out of 117 I-A teams. He's a good bet to take over on PRs, too, where the Hawkeyes fared much better (15th). There are plenty of other speed merchants to choose from if Sims doesn't improve. Overall consistency on special teams would be that one extra variable that could easily propel Iowa to higher echelons.