Iowa Football Predictions: 10 off-the-Wall Predictions for 2011

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IMay 10, 2011

Iowa Football Predictions: 10 off-the-Wall Predictions for 2011

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  (L-R) De'Andre Johnson #30, Ricky Stanzi #12, Marvin McNutt #7, Adrian Clayborn #94 and Jeremiha Hunter #42 of the Iowa Hawkeyes prepare to take the field for the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on D
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    With a number of seniors departing this past season, Iowa is heading into a season full of question marks in 2011.

    There is plenty of young talent, and there are some seasoned veterans, but the Hawkeyes will be very inexperienced compared to last year.

    For that reason, it's hard to predict where Iowa will end up come December. However, here's 10 odd predictions that could wind up coming true if everything falls into place.

Marcus Coker Will Rush for over 1500 Yards

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Runningback Marcus Coker #34 of the Iowa Hawkeyes rushes the football against the Missouri Tigers during the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Marcus Coker burst onto the college football scene as a freshman last season, rushing for 219 yards in an Insight Bowl win over Missouri.

    Coker will be the Hawkeyes' clear starter in 2011 and will need to carry a workload similar to Shonn Greene's in 2008. Like 2008, Iowa will be breaking in a new quarterback and will likely be a run-heavy team.

    While that could be a blessing—it means more carries and more yards behind a veteran offensive line—it will also mean a lot of hits and a tough workload.

    However, expect Coker to be up to the challenge and be near the top of the Big Ten in rushing.

Iowa Will Finish 10-2

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  (L-R) Ricky Stanzi #12, Marvin McNutt #7 and Adrian Clayborn #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes walk out onto the field for the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona. The Hawke
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Looking at the Hawkeyes' schedule, there is no game that they can't win. The Nebraska game will be tough and it's never easy to play in Happy Valley.

    However, if Iowa plays disciplined, it can theoretically win every game on its schedule. Realistically, Iowa tends to lose a few games each year that it shouldn't, so 10-2 seems like a fair prediction.

Iowa Will Finish 6-6

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Ricky Stanzi #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes prepares to snap the ball during the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    While the schedule gives Iowa a chance to finish with a double-digit win season, their inexperience, especially on offense, may be cause for concern.

    Is new quarterback James Vandenberg the quarterback that nearly came back to beat Ohio State or the quarterback that struggled against Northwestern and Minnesota? If it's the latter, the Hawkeyes could be in for a long year, regardless of how well Coker plays. There is also inexperience along the defensive line.

    Even if Vandenberg has an off year, the schedule is so easy that an sub-.500 season is hard to imagine.

Marvin McNutt Will Break Derrell Johnson-Koulianos's Career Receiving Record

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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 30- Wide receiver Marvin McNutt #7 of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes drives the ball into the end zone for a touch down during the second half of play against the Michigan State Spartans at Kinnick Stadium on October 30, 2010 in I
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Marvin McNutt only needs 1,071 yards this season to break DJK's career receiving record. At some schools it would be very possible. However, at a run-based school like Iowa, it's a stretch.

    One thing working in McNutt's favor is that he will be the sole go-to receiver this season, while Johnson-Koulianos had to share that title with McNutt for the last two years.

    McNutt will certainly be Iowa's No. 1 target in 2011. If Vandenberg can hit his stride, McNutt has a shot to break the record.

Micah Hyde Will Be an All-American Safety

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    TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Cornerback Micah Hyde #18 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 34-27.  (Photo by Chr
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Thanks to two incredible interception returns for touchdowns, Micah Hyde became one of the stars of the Iowa defense last season.

    This year, because of the departures of safeties Brett Greenwood and Tyler Sash, Hyde will likely be switching from corner to safety.

    Hyde is a tremendous talent, combining good speed and ball skills with good coverage and tackling skills. He and defensive coordinator Norm Parker said the transition is going well, and if Hyde can become the ball-hawk that Greenwood and Sash were, he could be an All-American in 2011.

Norm Parker Will Not Retire

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  Defensive corrdinator Norm Parker of the Iowa Hawkeyes arrives at the stadium to coach against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    This is likely the safest prediction on this list.

    Parker has had medical problems on and off throughout his career at Iowa, particularly in the last two seasons, as he missed some of 2010 and coached the rest of the time in the press box.

    Diabetes complications have forced Parker to have a more limited role with the defense. However, he has been excited to get back on the field and hopes to be back for many years to come.

Iowa Will Beat Penn State and Lose to Northwestern

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes shakes hands with head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittnay Lions after defeating them 21-10 on September 26, 2009 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (P
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Okay, this might be the safest prediction on this list.

    However, it might actually have some merit besides the "curse" argument this year.

    Penn State is still rebuilding and hasn't found a quarterback after struggling at that position all of last season. Northwestern, meanwhile, has arguably the best quarterback in the conference and should be stellar on offense.

    Look for the same old story against Northwestern and Penn State this year as the tension between the programs builds even more.

James Vandenberg Will Be in the Top 5 in the Big Ten in Passing

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 14:  Quarterback James Vandenberg #16 of the Iowa Hawkeyes gets set to hand off the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    This is assuming we see the Vandenberg that played at Ohio State and not the one that struggled against Northwestern.

    The junior quarterback has had two years to learn behind Ricky Stanzi and the coaches have been very pleased with his development.

    He will have the benefit of working behind a veteran offensive line and playing beside a strong running back.

    There are definitely question marks for Vandenberg. However, he has plenty of players around him that can help him succeed.

The Hawkeye Offense Will Mix Up the Playbook

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes stands in the tunnel before the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo b
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    After being criticized for playing too conservatively early in the year, Iowa's coaching staff tried to mix up the playbook in the second half of the year, particularly against Michigan State.

    The Hawkeyes were still conservative, but they added in a few trick plays—more than they had in the past, that is.

    That trend could continue in 2011 and may involve the athleticism of backup quarterback AJ Derby or the passing skills of wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who came to Iowa as a quarterback.

Michael Meyer Will Gain a Reputation as the Next Nate Kaeding

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Kicker Michael Meyer #96 of the Iowa Hawkeyes high fives teammate Ryan Donahue #5 after kicking a 21 yard field goal against the Missouri Tigers during the third quarter of the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 20
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A freshman walk-on, Michael Meyer surprised a lot of people last year by gaining the starting kicking job. He had a few bad kicks—as expected from a freshman—but was fairly consistent, hitting on 14 of 17 field goal tries.

    That's better than Kaeding (14 of 22) as a freshman.

    While he still has a long way to go to catch the Hawkeye great, Meyer could be well on his way and could be one of the top Big Ten kickers this season. However, before he becomes a legend, he needs to hit a big kick with a game on the line.

    With three years left in Iowa City, his chances are pretty good.