#36 Iowa Hawkeyes: College Football 77 in 77

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What’s the key to the Iowa Hawkeyes having a much better 2011 than 2010?

“Got to make sure we’re practicing well, and we go eliminate off-the-field distractions, and making sure we’re finishing games,” wide receiver Marvin McNutt told me at Big Ten  media day.

So all those off-the-field distractions were they a big reason the team went downhill fast toward the end of last season?

“Personally I think it did, but it also comes down to execution in the 4th quarter that was a huge part of it,” McNutt answered.

There were marijuana offenses among the skill position players, controversy stemming from the multiple player hospitalization following a conditioning session and the Iowa Hawkeyes took home a #2 ranking in a dubious category. Among the national preseason top 25, only the Pittsburgh Panthers had more players get arrested.
But 2011 is a new day…………..

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2010 was: a bowl winning season, but FAR BELOW preseason expectations. After rising to #4 in late 2009, they dropped two to Northwestern and Ohio State. They had a nice start in 2010, but fell apart at the end, due to all the arrests off the field and a tendency to not play football in the 4th quarters. Michigan hung 21 on them in the 4th. Special teams may have cost them the Wisconsin and Arizona games. But the Insight Bowl win brought a positive end to a negative year. And it showed they found an answer for their dismissed and transferring tailbacks.

BMOCs: McNutt of course, who could be this year’s college football version of Kevin Pittsnogle, a good player who gains cult hero status due to his funny name. I hope I don’t refer to new Iowa starting QB James Vandenburg as James Van Der Beek (also known as Dawson from “Dawson’s Creek” too much because then you’ll get the show’s annoying theme song “I don’t want to wait. For our liiiiiiiives to be over. I want to do know right now what will it be” stuck in your head. God, I hate you Paula Cole.

Can’t forget Lebron. Yes, their starting DE is named Lebron Daniel. OT Riley Reiff is potentially a first day NFL Draft guy. DBs Shaun Prater and Michah Hyde, as well DT Mike Daniels could play their way into becoming late round prospects. Also starting RB Marcus Coker and C James Ferentz (yes, the coach’s son) have major juice in Iowa City.

2011 will be fruitful if: Head Coach Kirk Ferentz continues his recent tradition of getting the most out of his team when they’re not projected to do anything special. Iowa is green at the DL and all the offensive skill positions.

2011 will be awful if: They can’t improve upon last year’s unIowalike 70th in rushing. Part of the reason they kept collapsing in the 4th is because the running game wasn’t what it usually is. They’ll need to chew up clock, and hope that Vandenburg excels in his first year as the #1. He has shown poise and talent.

Bottom Line: Probably a re-loading year, but there’s still enough to get to 7-5. I think this Ferentz Media Day quote says it best:

“Really in a nutshell for us, last year came down to how we handled close games. We dropped three games in November, total of 10 points. If you look at all of our losses over the season, about four points a game. If you contrast that to the year before, we ended up in the Orange Bowl. That was a year we did very well in close games. I think it’s probably true for a lot of us in the conference. We play in a competitive league. This year will be no different. The better you can handle those close ballgames, the more successful you are in those, the better your season will be.”

UI Rankings: #48 Athlon, #41 Lindy’s, #50 Phil Steele

CHECK OUT ALL THE 77 IN 77s

#37 Utah Utes

#38 Illinois Fighting Illini

#39 Arizona Wildcats

#40 Tennessee Volunteers

#41 USF Bulls

#42 Auburn Tigers

#43 Baylor Bears

#44 Maryland Terrapins

#45 Syracuse Orange

#46 Pittsburgh Panthers

#47 Clemson Tigers

#48 Boston College Eagles

#49 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

#50 Southern Miss Golden Eagles

#51 Central Florida Knights

#52 Washington Huskies

#53 SMU Mustangs

#54 Houston Cougars

#55 Iowa State Cyclones

#56 California Golden Bears

#57 Cincinnati Bearcats

#58 UConn Huskies

#59 Louisville Cardinals

#60 Oregon State Beavers

#61 Purdue Boilermakers

#62 San Diego State Aztecs

#63 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

#64 Kentucky Wildcats

#65 Tulsa Golden Hurricane

#66 Navy Midshipmen

#67 Toledo Rockets

#68 Duke Blue Devils

#69 UCLA Bruins

#70 Nevada Wolfpack

#71 Ole Miss Rebels

#72 Hawaii Warriors

#73 Colorado Buffaloes

#74 NIU Huskies

#75 Army Black Knights

#76 Indiana Hoosiers

#77 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter

 

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