Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 13, 2015

Kirk Ferentz will have plenty of veteran talent to work with as he embarks on his 17th season at Iowa. The defense has remained a steady force in recent years; the offense has been inconsistent. To that end, Ferentz tweaked his staff by naming his son Brian the run-game coordinator in addition. Brian will also remain coach of the offensive line, a mainstay unit on any Iowa team.

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The offense also has both quarterbacks returning, but the Hawkeyes need to establish go-to players at wideout and running back. Here?s a look at three key areas the Hawkeyes need to focus on this spring.

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1. Develop the offensive tackles. Iowa returns three interior linemen in senior center Austin Blythe and sophomore Sean Welsh and senior Jordan Walsh at guard. But tackles must be cultivated. The Hawkeyes lost two good ones in left tackle Brandon Scherff and right tackle Andrew Donnal. Both started every game and played full-time. Scherff leaves Iowa City as an all-time great, earning All-American honors and the Outland Trophy in 2014. Keep an eye on sophomores Boone Myers and Ike Boettger to step up at tackle. Others to watch are junior Cole Croston and redshirt freshman Keegan Render.

2. Develop defensive tackles. Just like the offensive front, the d-line has two good tackles to replace. Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat basically started every game over the past three seasons, from learning on the job as sophomores in 2012 to becoming top players in the Big Ten as seniors in 2014. Players like sophomore Nathan Bazata and juniors Jaleel Johnson, Faith Ekakitie and Kyle Terlouw are in the mix on the interior.

3. Find some running backs. Hard-charging Mark Weisman led the team in rushing the last three seasons after converting from fullback. He?s gone after rushing for 2,602 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. The list of hopeful replacements includes senior Jordan Canzeri, junior LeShun Daniels, Jr., sophomore Akrum Wadley, sophomore Jonathan Parker and redshirt freshman C.J. Hilliard. But none of those five has been a full-time back to this point in their career at Iowa.


Record: 7-6 overall; 4-4 Big Ten (lost to Tennessee in TaxSlayer Bowl)
Spring ball opens: March 25
Spring game: April 25
Key players lost: LB Quinton Alston; RB Damon Bullock; DT Carl Davis; OT Andrew Donnal; SS John Lowdermilk; WR Kevonte Martin-Manley; OT Brandon Scherff; DT Louis Trinca-Pasat; RB Mark Weisman
Key players back: QB C.J. Beathard; C Austin Blythe; LB Bo Bower; RB Jordan Canzeri; TE Jake Duzey; LB Josey Jewell; CB Desmond King; K Marshall Koehn; S Jordan Lomax; CB Greg Mabin; DE Nate Meier; DE Drew Ott; QB Jake Rudock; WR Tevaun Smith; G Jordan Walsh; G Sean Welsh


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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