Friday, October 26, 2012

In Defense of Ferentz

So, I wanted to give my two cents on the state of the Iowa Hawkeye football program (maybe only 1.5 cents, but it's something). It's that time of the year when everyone is calling for Kirk Ferentz to be fired. First off, it's not gonna happen, so you can give up on that notion, because Iowa is not going to pay him $20 million to sit on the couch at home.

Next, and more importantly, it shouldn't happen. Kirk Ferentz is a hell of a football coach. Is he the best coach in the country? Probably not. Is he overpaid? Probably, but I hope to God that I one day can get people complaining that I am overpaid. I can't blame a guy for being overpaid, that's a good job by him and his agent.

And, really, had Iowa recovered an onside kick, they would be 5-2 right now, and although we had dreams of 6-1 or 7-0, Iowa State is a pretty good football team, and most people thought Michigan State's offense would be good enough to win a home game against Iowa before the season started. We got a good win over Michigan State and took an absolute beating against Penn State. It's only the surprise of how those things turned out that anger Iowa fans. Oh, and back to that onside kick. Yeah, that was really bad. I'm trying to come up with a positive, but it was really awful and frustrating. Still, I'm not going to put a freak play (that admittedly has happened over and over) as enough to get a guy fired.

On top of that, this year was predestined to suck. Iowa's best years are when they have experienced offensive and defensive lines. They returned two starters between those two lines. They have had young guys step up and show they can play this year, which means the future is looking bright. I know everybody remembers the glory boy quarterbacks, Brad Banks, Drew Tate, and Ricky Stanzi, who I loved too, but they are not the same type of talent that has been on our offensive and defensive lines. Even a guy like Matt Roth, who never had a huge impact in the NFL, was an AWESOME college football player. Meanwhile, you have guys like Jonathan Babineaux who got overlooked a lot of times at Iowa, who has been a great defensive tackle in the NFL (feel free to substitute Robert Gallery and Marshall Yanda if you want an example of offensive linemen). That's what makes the Hawkeyes great.

Now onto that elephant in the room, Greg Davis. I'm as frustrated as everyone else with the offense. I have trouble giving Davis a whole lot of credit for the running game, since it is based on a zone blocking scheme that has been around as long as Ferentz. Maybe that's unfair. Maybe he should get credit, but we judge offensive coordinators on the passing game more than the running game, and the passing game has been hot garbage.

Is Greg Davis completely to blame? Not completely, but this horizontal offense is bad. People wanted to anoint Vandenberg as the greatest quarterback since Chuck Long, but there were warning signs going into this season. He struggled badly against good defenses. He has also been awful at handling pressure. And those problems have continued and possibly gotten worse. I think teams have game planned for him better this year. Still, all of you Ken O'Keefe haters are being awfully quiet right now, because he actually fit Kirk's offensive philosophies pretty damn well.

So, where are we? Well, the good news is that we lack experience and our offensive and defensive lines have played better than expected (we'll see how they deal with the injuries, but at least it gets more experience for guys). The other good news is that the defense has played pretty well for the most part. I know our worst games seem to stand out, but the front and back end (safeties) are inexperienced, so we're going to have those problems.

The bad news is that Greg Davis's offense has not shown us much. It's worrisome. They do have an easy out at the end of this season. But Kirk is a fiercely loyal guy who has never bent to criticism, and that's an admirable trait. Whether Davis's one year on staff has built up that loyalty remains to be seen. Kirk's not going to call out his offensive coordinator in the middle of the season. Actually, he's never going to call out any coach, ever.

There's worse things than going to bowl games every year and winning double-digit games every three or four years. There are worse things in the world than winning seven games. Just take a look at Auburn. Kirk's done more than enough to earn our trust, and I, personally, am happy that he is the Iowa Hawkeyes Head Football Coach.

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