DB Bob Sanders
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
22-26, 4 years
2002 Record: 11-2
at Miami OH WON 29-24
at Penn State WON 42-35 (OT)
at Indiana WON 24-8
at Michigan WON 34-9
at Minnesota WON 45-21
Southern Cal LOST 17-38

2002 Final Rankings
AP-8, Coaches-8, BCS-5

2003 Outlook

Ferentz had slowly brought Iowa off the mat in his first three seasons as head coach…1-10 to 3-9 to 7-5 in 2001. The sudden leap to Top Ten status and BCS contention in 2002 was a stunner, but maybe not so surprising when you look at the experience presented on the Hawkeye roster. Where does that leave Iowa for 2003?

Taking a couple steps back, but not back to Square One by any means. The run defense will still be tough, the special teams solid, and while the offense will have to work its way through some adjustment getting the new OL to mesh, there's still enough talent available - especially with Russell and Brown - to keep the Hawkeyes humming in 2003.

But the sequence of their schedule brings only two tune-up games. The next six games are perhaps the toughest six consecutive games played by any Big Ten team all year. Iowa St, Arizona St, easier Michigan St, then Michigan, Ohio St, and Penn St… these teams will create as many as four losses, or as few as two. It's all down hill from there, and we'll see a battle-tested team emerge with a new profile of either arrogance or humility. Bet on arrogance, as Chandler will likely run the table for the remaining conference games. Overall, look for a drop-off from last season, but only by a couple of games at most. We fully expect Iowa to be quality competition and in a late-season bowl, maybe even playing January 1, 2004.

Projected 2003 record: 8-4
WR Mo Brown
SS Bob Sanders
LB Ed Miles
QB - 3.5 DL - 4
RB - 5 LB - 4
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Nathan Chandler, 20-12-0, 161 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Fred Russell, 220 att., 1264 yds., 9 TD's

Receiving: Maurice Brown, 48 rec., 966 yds., 11 TD's

Scoring: Nate Kaeding, 21-24 FG, 57-58 PAT, 120 pts.

Punting: David Bradley, 53 punts, 39.5 avg.

Kicking: Nate Kaeding, 21-24 FG, 57-58 PAT, 120 pts.

Tackles: Bob Sanders, 102 tot., 68 solo

Sacks: Matt Roth, 10 sacks

Interceptions: Jovon Johnson, 4 for 71 yds.

Kickoff returns: Jermelle Lewis, 14 ret., 25.7 avg.

Punt returns: Ed Hinkel, 27 ret., 12.0 avg.


K Nate Kaeding
OFFENSE: Brad Banks-QB, C.J. Jones-WR, Eric Steinbach-OG, Bruce Nelson-C, Andy Lightfoot-OG, David Porter-OT, Dallas Clark-TE (NFL)
DEFENSE: Colin Cole-DT, Fred Barr-MLB, D.J. Johnson-CB, Derek Pagel-FS

By Joe Howley
Royal Oak, Mich.

The eligibility clock struck midnight for many key Hawkeyes after the Orange Bowl, but coach Kirk Ferentz doesn't have a completely empty cupboard with which to work. He has senior running back Fred Russell (1264 yds, 9 TDs) at the tailback spot. Russell is a Barry Sanders-model runner (5-8, 175) whose per-carry average of 5.75 is tops among returning feature back, finished 14th in the final NCAA D-I rushing stats. If Ferentz simply wants a bigger look at the running back position, junior Jermelle Lewis (5-11, 208, 709 yds, 8 TDs) will step in. Lewis is more suited toward inside running, while Russell tends to try to break things to the outside. Iowa's 214.2 yds/game (17th in Div I-A) won't be matched, seeing as it was achieved with a well-seasoned offense powered by standout QB Brad Banks and a senior-laden offensive line, both now gone. Lewis and Russell will find the going tougher this season behind Iowa's rebuilding O-line and without Banks to help spread out the defense(s).

The Hawks run the multiple-look, split backfield, sometimes with a fullback (often sent out on the wing). Senior Edgar Cervantes (6-4, 240) brings the beef needed for his blocking duties at fullback, and enough running ability to be an effective ball-carrier a handful of times per game. Junior Aaron Mickens saw spot duty in relief of Cervantes and also returns to round out a capable group of backs who obviously have seen enough action to help this offense click. The question remains concerning the holes needed for actual successful runs to occur.

Wideout Maurice Brown is back as well. The speed-burning senior caught 48 balls for 966 yards and 11 TDs, and will again be the featured receiver. Clinton Solomon will challenge fellow sophomore and returning first-teamer Ed Hinkel at the other wideout spot. We will keep you appraised of this, but all three are battle-tested and, regardless of starting status, will make their new QB's drop-back style likely to succeed early and often.

That gives Ferentz solid backs and at least one deep threat to start his building. But who's going to throw? And who's going to block? Plenty of questions and only a few clear answers for the Hawkeyes.

Tight end turned from a beacon into a black hole when Dallas Clark declared for the NFL Draft. Clark (team's 2nd leading receiver) departure throws untested junior Tony Jackson (6-3, 265) into the breach. Jackson's speed and hands will make this position a strength as the distracting veteran receivers get him open. Jackson's best strength, however, comes as a run blocker, where the Hawks are going to need all the help they can get. Not only did Iowa lose four starters along the offensive line, but three of the top reserves also burned up their eligibility. Jackson will occupy a defender or two, regardless of his role. His overall ability will go a long way toward helping establish the new linemen.

Senior tackle Rob Gallery (6-7, 300) is the only returning starter on the Iowa offensive line. Ferentz' multiple-set offense depends on effective power blocking, and Gallery is going to have to lead in many ways. Iowa ranked 7th last year with 37.2 points per game. The Hawkeyes shall take a noticeable drop from that figure.

Ferentz must replace seven key starters, including Banks. Towering senior Nathan Chandler (6-7, 250) served as Banks' backup last year, and carries a reputation as a strong-armed drop-back passer. He'll be OK in the aerial department, but Iowa will definitely miss that extra running dimension. There's no indication he'll be able to do the same. Chandler's 12-20, 161 yds, 1 TD, 0 INTs season stat line reads well (like a good game), but shows how this position's inexperience is a weakness until eliminated by solid play against quality conference foes.

Seniors Kory Borchers, Eric Rothwell and Sam Aiello, and junior Pete McMahon, are the only offensive linemen returning with any game experience. It takes time to get zone calls and assignments straightened out, and Chandler doesn't appear to have anything close to Banks' 'escapability' in the backfield. In other words, it's going to be a bumpy early season in particular as the Hawkeyes try to work this group into a cohesive unit. The line's early success or failure will be the key factor in measuring the team's destiny. All that offensive talent could be rendered benign if they don't click quick.


RB Fred Russell


Returning Starters in bold
QB Nathan Chandler-Sr Matt Mohnet-So
FB Edgar Cervantes-Sr Aaron Mickens-Jr
RB Fred Russell-Sr Jermelle Lewis-Jr
WR Ed Hinkel-So Clinton Solomon-So
WR Maurice Brown-Sr Ramon Ochoa-Sr
TE Erik Jensen-Sr Tony Jackson-Jr
OT Robert Gallery-Sr C.J. Barkema-So
OG David Walker-So Sam Aiello-Sr
C Eric Rothwell-Sr Ben Cronin-So
OG Kory Borchers-Sr Fabian Dodd-So
OT Pete McMahon-Jr Blake Larsen-So
K Nate Kaeding-Sr ..



By Joe Howley
Royal Oak, Mich.

Iowa's defense (front seven especially) is going to have to carry the load until the offense can gel. The Hawkeyes, playing defensive coordinator Norm Parker's gap 4-3 alignment, ranked fifth in the nation with 81.9 rushing yards allowed per game, 2.6 yds per rush.

Three of the front four are back, along with two of three starting linebackers. Seniors Jonathan Babineaux (9 TFL, 7 sacks, 2 FF) and Howard Hodges (11 TFL, 9 sacks, 17 QBH) will man the the front wall, while another senior, DT Jared Clauss (10 TFL, 6 sacks, 10 QBH, 2 fumbles rec) returns to make this a feared group, to say the least (40 sack total - 2nd in Big Ten). Similarly, returning linebackers Grant Steen and Kevin Worthy are both seniors, so the Hawkeyes will have an iron-tested front-six-out-of-seven and will be again tough against the run. Senior O.J. Payne and juniors Matt Roth and Derreck Robinson are back and pushing for playing time roles on the line. One of them (Roth has inside track, extensive playing time) will take the open spot... we'll keep you posted.

Iowa will have to be strong on rushing defense, because the Hawkeyes ranked a horrid 110th among D-I schools on pass defense, and the two returning DBs -- senior SS Bob Sanders and soph corner Antwan Allen -- are going to have to step up more than a little bit. The Hawkeyes had big leads in a lot of games last year, and opponents were constantly throwing in futile attempts to play catch-up. But that only explains part of the problem; any way you cut it, the Iowa defensive secondary needs to improve… a lot.

Senior Jermire Roberts, junior Sean Considine and sophomore Jovon Johnson all saw backup duty in the secondary, but if they weren't able to crack the starting lineup even with the glaring weakness of the Hawks' DBs, it's not likely any of them are going to be huge difference-makers now. The secondary is going to have to see some immediate talent infusion from redshirts, recruits or possibly a JUCO transfer or two. It is too early to detail all the possible scenarios. Look for two- and three-deep zones, with plenty of LB help in coverage, regardless. If the season really tanks for the Hawkeyes, this (and/or the O-line) will be the team's Achilles heel, in hindsight.



DE Howard Hodges


Returning Starters in bold
DE Howard Hodges-Sr Tyler Luebke-Jr
DT Jared Clauss-Sr Jory Helms-Sr
DT Jonathan Babineaux-Jr George Eshareturi-Fr
DE Matt Roth-Jr Derreck Robinson-Jr
OLB Grant Steen-Sr Jermire Roberts-Sr
MLB Abdul Hodge-So Kevin Worthy-Sr
WLB Chad Greenway-So Ed Miles-So
CB Jovon Johnson-So Chigozie Ejiasi-Jr
CB Antwan Allen-So Adolphus Shelton-So
SS Bob Sanders-Sr Marcus Paschal-Fr
FS Sean Considine-Jr Chris Smith-Sr
P David Bradley-Jr ..




Iowa will be terrific on special teams. Nate Kaeding had a super year placekicking (21-24 FGs, 57-58 PATs) as a junior, and gives the Hawkeyes one of the top kickers returning in Division I. Junior David Bradley averaged 39.5 yards per punt, but showed excellent hang time (returners 2.5 yards per runback made net 37.0 yards per punt -2nd in Big Ten). Jermelle Lewis (25.7 yds/KR) helped Iowa lead the nation in that category. Even though sophomore Ed Hinkel was "less spectacular" on punt returns, his 12.0 yds/return was 34th nationally - 3rd in Big Ten. Quality recruiting and depth mean hungry players will make these special teams the difference-makers for a few games. There may be holes to fill in the offensive and defensive units, but the Hawkeye special teams look rock solid.


QB Nathan Chandler has not thoroughly impressed, leaving the QB race open in the fall. Coaches talked about possibly using a two-QB system if redshirt freshman Jason Manson blossoms like they expect… With Jermelle Lewis going down in the spring (ACL injury - those ALWAYS leave questions and concerns), depth at RB is thin. This will give an opportunity for incoming (true) freshmen Albert Young and A.J. Johnson to see action. Smart money is on Young making more of an impact. He is quick, evidenced by his being named second team all-conference at WR as a high school freshman, as well as the New Jersey Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He should fit right into the mold of a Kirk Ferentz Iowa running back… Fabian Dodd has made the switch from DT to OG. There is the possibility that he could find himself starting on the O-line, potentially even at center. OG Sam Aiello will be suspended this off-season due to undisclosed reasons. Look out for the name Tyler Fanucchi (frosh WR) over the next couple of years. His brother, Lou, was a standout WR at Boise State and word is that the he has a leg up on big bro.

Defense was the strong point this spring, but maybe that's because the offense has so many questions to deal with. Matt Roth was involved in an altercation this off-season that may involve a suspension. No word yet on whether he will miss any game time. The door is open at DT, as far as reserves are concerned. The Hawks are so thin that we feel true freshman George Eshareturi will see the field a considerable amount this season… Adbul Hodge holds the edge as starter at MLB heading into the fall. Worthy will back him up… The progress made by sophomore CB Jovon Johnson has elevated him to be the best cover man the Hawkeyes have. He has improved nearly every phase of his game and will depended on as a shutdown corner this fall. Coaches also say that if the occasion arises, they won't hesitate to throw freshman Khaliq Price into the two-deeps at CB.