With the 2013 season behind them, the Iowa Hawkeyes are ready to get to work and put their bowl loss behind them. They will look to parlaying their end-of-season momentum into a strong 2014 football season.
The Hawkeyes’ coaching staff is well aware of the hard work that needs to be done in the months from January to August, and are ready to step up to the challenge. In fact, how could one of the most tenured staffs not be aware of the rigors of the offseason? Their coach may be another year older and is the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten, but age will not slow down Kirk Ferentz as he was clearly full of passion.
One of the first tasks for the Iowa staff will be to assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses so that can address the latter. While the Hawkeyes’ weaknesses clearly need to be a focal point of the offseason, their strengths should not be overlooked.
It is during this critical time that a coaching staff can devise a plan on how to maximize the team’s strengths on the gridiron, and the Hawkeyes have plenty of strengths to focus on this offseason as they will attempt to obtain a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl bid in 2014.
Offense should be a strength for the Hawkeyes in 2014. Coach Ferentz may be losing his offensive line coach, son Brian Ferentz to the NFL’s Houston Texans, but replacing the younger Ferentz may not prove to be as difficult as one would think. Kirk Ferentz’s teams always seems to feature a very productive offensive line.
Directly behind that offensive line will be Jake Ruddock, who had to earn his starting job for the 2013 football season in a hard-fought offseason battle. He won the job and held onto it for the majority of the season. With a season under center behind him, Ruddock should make some great improvements in 2014. Look for him to continue to embrace a leadership role and produce for the Hawkeyes both with his legs and his arm.
Finally, the most glaring strength for the Hawkeyes will likely be their returning running backs. Mark Weisman started off the season as a force for the Hawkeyes and though his role diminished at times during the season, his ability as a runner was always evident. Weisman is a converted fullback and is a very punishing runner.
Along with Weisman, Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri both had very productive years. The Hawkeyes will likely be using a running back-by-committee in 2014, but that will undoubtedly be one strong committee.