DES MOINES — Iowa coordinators Greg Davis and Phil Parker have pretty much the same problem.
Their units have proven to be effective — but only in spurts.
The Hawkeyes will need to be more much consistent on both sides of the ball if they want to escape a four-year stretch of average results.
Davis and Parker met with reporters Wednesday — a rarity for a program that typically lets Coach Kirk Ferentz be its voice with the media — to discuss what they’re looking to improve.
It’ll be a critical fall for the Hawkeyes, who finished a disappointing 7-6 and were blown out by Tennessee in their bowl game.
Iowa concludes spring ball with a scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
“I think we’ve accomplished a lot of (things). We’re not ready to play. If we had to play Saturday there (are) still too many mistakes being made,” said Davis, the offensive coordinator. “But the kid’s attitude and the way they’re going about it, we’ve been pretty pleased with that.”
One big key for Iowa’s offense next season will be an improved run game.
Davis believes that the Hawkeyes are deeper at running back than they’ve been in years. He also said that converted wide receiver Derrick Mitchell has been so impressive this spring that he has a chance to be Iowa’s third-down back by the fall.
And now that Jake Rudock has transferred to Michigan, the quarterback job belongs to junior C.J. Beathard.
Beathard is much more athletic than Rudock, a prototypical pocket passer. So Iowa will look to use its quarterbacks more in the run game — without exposing Beathard to a hit that might end his season.
Iowa can’t afford to lose Beathard, because he’s the only quarterback they have who’s taken a collegiate snap.
“We will incorporate a little bit using his legs because he has the ability to run. At the same time you don’t ever want to expose a quarterback to undue hits,” Davis said. “I think he will do some things just leaving the pocket on unscheduled runs.”
Asked what the Hawkeyes learned from letting Tennessee score 35 points in the first half in January, Parker said they simply “didn’t show up.”
Parker is looking to see a more focused defensive effort moving forward.
“Is it disappointing? Does it hurt? For a while, yeah. But you have to get back up and get back after it and start coaching the guys the way we’ve always coached them. I think guys are more involved,” Parker said. “I’m not going to change the way I did it, my approach. You always look at your scheme. Is your scheme good? What’s the breakdown? There are some things we’ve got to fix.”
Parker has spent much of the spring looking for replacements for star tackles Louis Trinca-Pasat and Carl Davis and moving around his young linebackers in search of the right fit.
Parker said that expected starting tackles Jaleel Johnson and Nate Bazata have made progress. He also thinks the depth and added experience the linebackers got this spring should cut down on the numerous missed reads they made in 2014.
“You’ve got to make sure when you’re tracking a guy that you have your eyes on him to track him, and you’ve got to read his body language and see if he’s going to cut back or what direction he’s going,” Parker said.