Every Friday through the football season, I will be featuring Guest Commentators, fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes, to give their pre-game opinions.
Additionally, I will be featuring fan opinions from other Big 10 teams and a team or two from the Big 12 and other conferences.
Ideally, I'd like to have one fan for each Big 10 team. Check out the teams at the end of this post that still need fan commentary. If a team catches your eye without a fan and you know a big fan, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, if you or someone you know is a fan of a team outside of the Big 10 and would like to provide weekly commentary or just a one time only commentary on their team's upcoming game, shoot me an email, puleeze :) I have Texas covered but it would be nice to hear from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State and even outside of the Big 12.
The questions asked of the guest commentators this week were:
1. How do you feel your team will do this year? What do you think their overall record will be?
2. How do you feel the offense is going to do?
First up is the
Silver Fox: With this being the first week of camp and three weeks yet until the first game, I usually like to make a prediction how the season might turn out record-wise for the Hawkeyes. Not so this year because of lack of experience at two key areas; quarterback and linebacker. I'll only discuss linebacker here. The only starter returning is James Morris, and that was only for part of the season. And when you consider how many teams will probably use the spread offense against us this year, maybe the Hawks should go more to a 3/4 to shore up the linebacking capability by giving more help to the middle of the field, which ought to still keep us strong against the run. Check you next week.
Hawk Guy:This year the Hawks could poise theirselves as a suprise team in the Big Ten. Expectations are lower with fewer returning starters capturing the media spotlight. I look at this as an opportunity for the Hawks to capitalize as a team. Black and Gold Girl makes a great point by phrasing this a 'rebuilding year'. I think this year won't be unlike any other in the recent past, the team will be prepared with solid fundamentals and a fortitude to win. With no one superstar, I believe it could be a good opportunity to strengthen team unity and team strength. Less emphasis on certain players could be a good thing! I have yet to decide what their record will likely be, but better than expected I will predict a 9-3 campaign. It is lofty mark, but possible.
We certainly have questions on the offensive side of the ball this year. With a vertually untested quarterback and upcoming lineman and wide recievers it could be a slow and low scoring offense. However, it is up to the athletes to decide what type of offense they can be capable of. The running game will be the staple. Iowa will run the stretch play, and do it well, initially relying heavily upon Marcus Coker and the stable of backs. Vandenburg is hungry to avenge his long awaited second debut as a starter. This time he should be more prepared to take over the job, and he should be more confident and composed as a junior rather than a freshman coming in for an injured starter, have faith my Hawkeye friends.
Black and Gold Girl: I think this will be a rebuilding year, but I hope that Iowa surprises and comes out strong. The optimist in me would love to say 10-2 but I'm going with 8-4.
We're pretty good on pass protection, but we need a QB that will fire off the shot on time. I think Vandenburg will be jumpy at first, but if he can calm those nerves he'll be effective. Coker returning is as major bonus, and we all know McNutt is an all star. With DJK gone we might lose some of the "ritz" we saw over the last few years when we had Stanzi throwing to DJK, but overall I'm confident we can get the chemistry going that we'll need to make it a good year. Chemistry is the key.
Turnkey Tim: I actually feel good about this year's team. We graduated many people, but I really feel we are re-loading, not starting from scratch. Defense wins championships. Many players have starting experience. This is a fast defense. Fastest ever in my opinion. James Morris has the potential to be the best linebacker ever.
Offensively I believe we have one of the best offensive lines in the Big 10. Riley Reiff at left tackle - future NFL material. James Ferentz at center, you want a great signal caller, must be smart, he calls offensive line plays - give him and A, he was groomed for this role. Vandenberg at QB, with the wide receivers and tight ends that we have, Vandy could have some impressive numbers, that is if he has success early, especially against Iowa State. If Vandy looks good here, things will get better fast. Coker at running back will balance out the attack. Who backs him up? True freshman McCall gets my vote; this guy is fast and physical. If he gets the offense down, look out. Otherwise Jason White, best athlete on the Iowa team that could make an impact. Tight end? Heard of CJ Fiedorowicz? No? You will. Wide receivers - they could be crazy good or just okay, that's why we play the game. Coaching staff - consistency is the key. Is there a more intact staff in the country in the last 12 years? I think not. I predict a record of 9-3. What influences the record; injuries. Go Hawks!
Herman of Frytown: Opinion coming...
Now, on to other Big 10 Teams
Buck-I: Wow - talk about an off season that brought so many uncertainties! Today (friday the 12th) we find out what the penalties will be from the NCAA. I have this feeling that many Buckeye haters will complain that it wasn't enough. With the suspensions for the first 5 games, expectations might be a little high to think they can win all those games - but.... I think they will do it. I would say a successful season would be 10 and 2. Anything less and Fickel may not keep his job.
The offense is what gives me the biggest questions. With Pryor gone and last years backup Bauserman not having locked up the job - it could open the door for highly touted Freshman Braxton Miller. So the quarterback position is very uncertain. Boom Herron, the most consistent running back is out for the first 5 games along with DeVier Posey at wide out. There is a lot of talent coming in but lack of experience is where it could really give some problems. It appears that there is a lot of versatility on the offensive line but the question is - who is going to play where? Hopefully it won't be hard to figure that out and everything will be in place by the time the season starts! Go Bucks!!!
Steve: Steve predicts. Russell Wilson. Stop. Big Ten championship...who cares about Nebraska. BCS Bowl. Stop. National Championship? Steve's blog for this week.
A'maize'n Blue: The perennial epidemic that was Rich Rodriguez is out, Brady Hoke is in! Don't expect to see a "new era" of football at Michigan, but with all hopes a return of the pre RichRod days, the good ol' days. Denard "shoelaces" Robinson, the talk of Michigan, quite possibly the most electrifying player in the Big 10 is back, but this year he won't be alone. Michigan is returning NINE starters from the offense this year, and at receiver expect to see Jr. Roy Roundtree step up and approach 1,000 yards again with the suspension of Darryl Stonum. Opposite Roundtree will be Sr. Junior Hemingway, giving Michigan big play receivers on either side of Robinson, who is no stranger to making the big plays with his arm or his legs. Koger will be the go to TE this year, primarily a receiving TE last year it is reported he bulked up in the off season to add value as a blocker as well. Denard is back and will be as deadly as ever, but it make look a little different under a new offensive coordinator and completely new offense this year. Don't expect to see 250 carries out of Denard like last season (which did lead to a team leading and Big 10 conference leading 1700 rushing yards), but you can guarantee he will be making the highlight reel week in and week out. Michigan will be trying to reestablish themselves as a "power-run" offense, but in order to do so they need a standout back to take the load off of Robinson, which they have yet to find. There is a lot of depth at running back with about five worthy candidates looking for the starting job. So far the front runners for the position are Jr. Vincent Smith and Sr. Michael Shaw.
As for the O-Line Michigan is set. Four out of the 5 starters are returning for at least their 4th season on the team, and the youngest, Soph. LT Taylor Lewan (Big 10 freshman team honors last year) has the potential to become as good as former LT Jake Long, the number one overall pick of the 2008 draft. Depth is an issue on the O-Line, but barring injuries they should be opening up holes for the return of the running game and be giving Robinson plenty of time to make those huge plays. Overall Michigan looks to be on the right track to reclaiming greatness within the Big 10, expect them to turn some of the non-believers' heads this year. Regular Season record: 9-3, falling to bitter rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, and newcomers to the conference Nebraska.
Minnesota...my Minnesota fan is MIA this week...
Turnkey Tim: This past week in practice, Joe Paterno accidentally got tackled by one of his own players. This is true. My version of the story goes like this: Joe fall into a deep sleep, he's putting in a new-fangled offense for the 2011 season. No one will be able to figure it out. It is actually the same offense they used in 1957. But it is so out-dated, no team can figure our how to defend it. They ask the ref, "Is that running back former Heisman Trophy winner John Cappeletti? Hasn't his eligibility ran out yet?" After waking up from dreaming of another championship season, Paterno wakes up to see his team has gone 8-4 for the 2011 season. P.S. Someone help me, we need someone to write on Penn State, I do not want Angie to ban me from the website.
Still Need Big 10 Fans of
Illinois located right next to Iowa, now I know Zook thought our running back was Nate Kaeding a few years ago, but come on, certainly there's an Illini fan left.
Michigan State is there a Spartan out there?
Purdue I'm stumped on this one, this could be tough
Northwestern hmmm, this could be a tough one too
Indiana I know there's a fan or three out there, now unearth yourself
Nebraska I think I got my fan for this one, stay tuned
Penn State Come on, there must be a Nittany Lion fan out there. Isn't there?
Now on to a Big 12 Team:
A Fan In Texas Whose Commenter Name Is Yet to Be Determined: Tough questions for pre-season... Texas did NOT have a good season last year with a 5 - 7 record.Our offensive philosophy of 'basics football with good execution' had become predictable and stale - we got pushed around real good. High school kids could figure out the plays we'd be calling. With 7 seven new ass't coaches & coordinators this year, we're looking for a new style of play and new attitudes going forward. Will keep you posted on that as the season begins in 3 weeks. The Longhorns are looking for improvement, but with cautious optimism. We don't yet have that swagger, I'll have to keep you posted as it progresses. I know and speak with a lot of 'Horns' followers from casual fan to 'avid orangebloods', and the optimistic ones think a record as good as 8 & 4 is possible while others say 5 & 7 is realistic in this transition year. (We got lessons in humility last year, but we have hope again).
Heavy emphasis on the "O" line this season. Offensive line was porous last year - our running game got "stuffed" consistently and our quarterback got beat up pretty good & pretty often. We were reacting to opponents defenses, not dictating how the game would go. Four good QB candidates, but no #1 yet; more on that later on. This is Texas - we NEED a running game! "Hook 'em Horns"!
Also looking for a fan of other Big 12 teams or other conferences....
A BIG Thank You to all the volunteer
commentators!!!!! I appreciate it!!!!!
Commentary will be added throughout the week as it comes in.....Keep checking back.....