On Monday, Kirk Ferentz announced that Brian Ferentz would become Iowa’s next Offensive Coordinator.
In nine months, Brian Ferentz will have every opportunity to look like an offensive mastermind.
That’s the funny thing that can happen when you follow an era where offense was difficult to come by and never consistent, unless we deem it to have been consistently poor…or very poor.
For all of Greg Davis’ career accomplishments, his final lap around the offensive track will be remembered as being very poor. I think the numbers, relative to Iowa’s peers in the FBS, were Licliter-esque in their atrociousness.
Below are Iowa’s offensive and defensive statistical rankings in all of the FBS, dating back to 2001. I used 2001 because I could not hold 1999 and 2000 against Ken O’Keefe and Norm Parker, as Iowa was in a total rebuilding mode.
The ‘FBS Teams’ row, with black background and white text, shows the total number of teams that were in the FBS level in that given year.
The bottom set of numbers pits the O’Keefe era averages against the Davis era averages, and the same for Norm vs Phil Parker.
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Take a look at 2016 for a second, if you dare. Iowa’s total offense ranking was 121 out of 128. That is the worst offensive production of the Ferentz era relative to every other team in the sport. The passing offense ranked 118 out of 128. Greg Davis presided over two of the three worst scoring offensive totals since 2001.
In comparing Davis to the Ken O’Keefe era, O’Keefe’s offenses look downright explosive. A 31 position difference in passing offense, a 29 position difference in total offense, a 30 position difference in scoring offense and a 34 position difference in passing efficiency. Davis came to Iowa with a bit of a ‘QB Guru’ reputation. He leaves Iowa with it being clear that the marriage of his offensive philosophies with Kirk Ferentz’s offensive philosophies was simply a bad marriage.
The ‘marriage’ with Brian Ferentz should be a smooth one, with Brian being perhaps one of the few people on the planet who can get in Kirk’s ear and possibly get his own way here or there.
I believe we will see a lot of the same principles, route trees and favorites from the Ken O’Keefe era return under a Brian Ferentz led offense. I hope this means the end of the sight read fiasco, and running routes short of the first down marker.
I also think we’ll see more imagination with Iowa’s usage of the tight ends, and get back to the point where Iowa’s tight ends are a feared offensive weapon as opposed to 4th option. It will also help that Iowa looks to have an exciting group of tight ends for the next few years as it relates to ‘ball skills’.
If Iowa can get back to their KOK level of production, where the offensive statistical rankings are middle of the road in FBS, that would en an enormous boost and give them a better chance to win more than 8 games per year, which is the average for Iowa since 2001.
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If you’re hoping for some degree of tectonic shift in Iowa’s offensive philosophy going forward, you will be disappointed. But in my opinion, I don’t think Iowa needs that. They just need to get back to being a competently balanced offense, as they were (on the whole) during the Ken O’Keefe years. I also believe Brian Ferentz can inject some of his own personality into the schemes and bring forth the most Ferentzian of offensive styles…the best of the KOK schemes along with things he learned with the New England Patriots, who have used their tight ends as offensive weapons throughout the years.
So Brian Ferentz is set up to look real, real smart. That’s what happens when your work is compared to one of the worst (if not THE worst) five-year eras of Iowa offense in the last 40 years, but I also think Brian will look smart because he is smart and is a great selection for this role.
And oh by the way…Phil Parker is doing a bang up job. Where his rankings in rushing defense have dipped from what Norm Parker’s defenses put forth, teams are not lining up and running the ball out of power formations in today’s game the way they did for most of the Norm Parker era. Offenses (other than Iowa’s) run more often out of spread formations which empty the box and forces a defense to tackle more in space. But Iowa’s passing defensive numbers have been very good under Phil and the scoring defensive numbers are right on par.
If Phil can continue this pace, and if Iowa can once again become a competent offensive football team, it will give itself a chance to get back to Indianapolis a time or two during the course of the next five years.