Iowa has a new-look staff heading into spring drills

Yahoo! Sports Staff
Yahoo! SportsMarch 19, 2012

For the first time since he was hired as Iowa's coach before the 1999 season, Kirk Ferentz won't have Ken O'Keefe and Norm Parker by his side.

O'Keefe had overseen the offense coordinator and Parker the defense from day one of the Ferentz regime. But Parker retired and O'Keefe left to become the Miami Dolphins' wide receivers coach. The Ferentz-O'Keefe-Parker trio had been the longest-serving coach/coordinator grouping in college football.

The new coordinators are Greg Davis on offense and Phil Parker on defense. Davis, who was Texas' OC when the Longhorns won the national title in the 2005 season, was out of football last season. Parker has been at Iowa since Ferentz was hired and was promoted from secondary coach.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has new offensive and defensive coordinators this spring.
(US Presswire)

Iowa at-a-glance

Coach: Kirk Ferentz
Last season: 7-6, 4-4 Big Ten
Spring practice dates: March 21-April 14
Returning starters
(minimum 7 starts last season):
Offense (5): WR Keenan Davis, C James Ferentz, FB Brad Rogers, G Matt Tobin, QB James Vandenberg
Defense (5): E/T Dominic Alvis, CB Micah Hyde, LB Christian Kirksey, FS Tanner Miller, LB James Morris
Special teams (1): K Mike Meyer

The revamped staff should have a busy spring, with numerous holes on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Iowa lost its starting tailback, its go-to receiver and three starting linemen, including projected first-round pick Riley Reiff at tackle. Defensively, Iowa has to rebuild its offensive line and revamp its secondary.

Tom Kakert of HawkeyeReport.com – a Rivals.com website that covers Iowa – provides a more in-depth look at spring practice.

The biggest problem: Defensive line. Iowa has a couple of issues heading into the start of spring practice, but the biggest is on the defensive line. Iowa will be looking to replace each of the four linemen who started the 2011 Insight Bowl, and this comes one year after losing three starting linemen to the NFL. To make matters worse, no one really emerged on a consistent basis up front last season. Longtime offensive line coach Reese Morgan is the Hawkeyes' new defensive line coach, and he will have his hands full teaching a young group. There's talent on the line, but it's young and it's inexperienced.

[ More Big Ten: Quarterback issues could derail Wisconsin Badgers ]

On the spot: WR Keenan Davis. He heads into his senior season with the expectation meter running high as he follows in the footsteps of Marvin McNutt. Davis had a breakout year last season, but now faces the pressure of being the go-to guy for quarterback James Vandenberg in 2012 and the focus of opposing secondaries. Davis has all the tools to be an All-Big Ten receiver and must now show it.

On the verge: RB Jordan Canzeri. The circumstances weren't ideal, but Canzeri took over the role of starting running back for the Hawkeyes in the 2011 Insight Bowl following the departure of Marcus Coker. Canzeri rushed for 58 yards and had 28 yards receiving and one touchdown. The Hawkeyes went through another year of significant losses in the backfield, and this spring offers Canzeri the opportunity to grab the starting spot heading into fall camp.

For in-depth coverage of Iowa athletics, go to HawkeyeReport.com

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Pat Forde: Kendall Marshall injury could be the last straw for North Carolina
Les Carpenter: Tim Tebow must step aside for Peyton Manning, but he'll be heard from again
New insights put twist on Tiger Woods' obsession with Navy SEALs
Y! Finance: Baseball's Jerry Hairston Jr. trains with high tech fitness gear