IOWA CITY– There are plenty of questions as the Hawks go into their two-a-day mode in fall camp.
Can Dace Richardson be effective and healthy all year after sitting out two seasons with injuries?
If Jewel Hampton starts, who will be No. 2 at running back?
When Rick Stanzi goes to the sideline with Iowa up, who will come in at quarterback?
Finally, after 101 years, is this the time for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series?
Okay, the last one is for Brian Fleck, longtime Cubs fan.
With Dace in mind, it all starts up front with the offensive line.
The last couple of years the Hawkeyes have loaded up on good offensive lineman. With the coaching of Reece Morgan and Kirk Ferentz, the depth and talent continues to improve.
Three starters are back, including all Big Ten tackles Bryan Bulaga (6-6, 315) and Kyle Calloway (6-7, 315). Julian Vandervelde (6-3, 300) also started at guard but will miss the first game or two after knee surgery this summer.
Rafael Eubanks (6-3, 280) has started at guard and center while Dan Doering (6-6, 300) and Andy Kuempel (6-7, 300) both have starting experience at guard and tackle.
That leaves Riley Reiff (6-6, 280) and Markus Zusevics (6-5, 278) as back-up tackles. Dace and Adam Gettis (6-4, 280) will be fighting for playing time at the guard positions.
“We have three guys returning, which is positive,” said coach Ferentz. “Julian, Kyle and Bryan were all playing well at the end of last year so that gives us a good nucleus. We have a lot of guys who have played and are in contention. We may be as deep as we’ve been in some time. We need the younger guys to keep coming along.”
At the start of fall camp Dace was listed as the No. 1 left guard.
“The best story of the spring might have been Dace coming back from injury. He appears to be on the road to recovery,” said coach about his 6-6, 305-pound lineman. “I’m not sure how it will shake out, but I feel pretty good about it overall.”
The Iowa Hawkeyes have won or shared five Big Ten championships since 1981. Kirk Ferentz was offensive line coach in two of those (1981, 1985) and was head coach in two (2002, 2004), so if he feels pretty good then I feel pretty good.
The Hawks have three tight ends with game experience: senior Tony Moeaki (6-4, 250), junior Allen Reisner (6-3, 235) and sophomore Brad Herman (6-5, 242).
Isn’t it interesting that Tony and Dace Richardson came in the same class that was rated one of the top 10 classes in college football?
Tony, like Dace, has been injured throughout his career and has the potential to be one of the best in the nation…if he can stay healthy.
“We feel Tony, like Andy Brodell a year ago, can come back and play at a high level in his final year,” said coach Ferentz. “If anybody deserves a year to stay healthy and enjoy the season, that would be Tony.\