IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s defense was a big reason the Hawkeyes won 10 games and the Big Ten West last season.
The inconsistency of the offense played a big part in Iowa’s four losses, including a 42-3 defeat to Michigan in the Big Ten championship game and the 20-17 loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.
The Hawkeyes know they have to be better with the ball this season.
“I think it’s just consistency, doing the little things right,” wide receiver Arland Bruce IV said Friday at media day. “I think I left a lot of stuff on the field last year, and I think a lot of other players think that way about themselves. It’s about the details. It’s just the little things.”
The Hawkeyes finished 99th nationally in scoring offense at 23.4 points per game. They were 101st in rushing offense (123.6 yards per game), 109th in passing offense (180.1) and 121st in total offense (303.7).
“I’d say we have to improve in pretty much every measurable area, because I thought we were subpar in every measurable area on offense last year,” said quarterback Spencer Petras, who had his own struggles last season and is battling with Alex Padilla for the starting job in fall camp. “We need to be better in third downs, red zone, first half, second half. All of the above, we have to be better.”
“No one was happy from last year’s performance and what we did last season,” said offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz. “That’s not the expectation, and what we are trying to do. Every year you go back and look at what you were doing and dissect it. Figure out what’s good, what’s bad, what we need to improve, what we need to focus on, and what we need to move on. At the end of the day, we want to be effective and efficient. There is always plenty of room for improvement on both running and throwing the football.”
Iowa’s offense will have new personnel in several areas. Running backs Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams will combine to replace Tyler Goodson, who rushed for 1,151 yards before entering the NFL draft early. Bruce and fellow sophomore Keagan Johnson will take the wide receiver spots vacated by Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy Jr., after both transferred to Purdue. Logan Jones moves from the defensive line to center to replace All-American Tyler Linderbaum, and Kirk Ferentz said putting together the rest of the offensive line is still “a moving target.”
Petras completed just 57.3% of his passes last season, and he spent the offseason attending the Manning Passing Academy to work on the mental part of his game.
“If you go up there trying to hit a home run, you’re probably going to strike out, and as a young guy, especially, you want nothing more than to go out there and throw five touchdowns a game and have every play be perfect,” Petras said. “As you mature and get more experienced, you learn that’s not the way to play.”
“All he’s got to do is play, just relax and play,” Kirk Ferentz said. “He may press at times and try a little too hard at times, and that’s a good thing, but it can work against you, too. But from my vantage point just watching tape last year, I think the biggest thing is we have to help him a little bit more and support him.”