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...was a mess. Hawkeye fans know that.
It was 102nd nationally in yards per game, tied for 116th in yards per attempt, was 115th in efficiency rating and was tied for 121st in touchdown passes.
And that was with a returning senior quarterback, three experienced pass catchers and a solid offensive line. It was also out of a pro set, unlike the three Academy offenses that employ the triple option and regularly inhabit the bottom of the passing stat sheet.
The question that Hawkeye fans are eager to have answered concerns whether the offensive ills were a natural, if excessive, product of transition, or whether it was a matter of a bad idea that will never work.
Consider the offense in question.
The running game still employs Kirk Ferentz's zone scheme. For the previous 13 years, the rushing scheme was offset by a passing attack that was heavy on play-action and downfield throws. This forced the safeties out of the box for fear of getting burned deep.
However, as Jon Miller of Hawkeyenation pointed out, the current scheme that Greg Davis has installed features a vertical passing game that rarely takes any downfield shots.
This, in turn, allows safeties to creep into the box to take away the run game.
This allows cornerbacks to sit on routes, which makes it difficult for receivers to get off the line. This leaves the quarterback waiting for his receivers, which invites blitzes. The quarterback then has to get the ball out faster. This leaves the opposing secondary with no fear of getting burned deep.
In effect, the safeties can creep into the box and the cornerbacks can sit on routes.
It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of making things harder on the offense than it has to be.
What if the problem with the 2012 passing game wasn't a problem of transition or fielding players who were bad fits for the system? What if it was a matter of combining a running game with an uncomplementary passing system?
If that is the problem, it is unlikely to be fixed, or even improved upon, next year or at any point in the future.