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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 109 second on the team with 36 catches for 315 yards and 3 TDs. But the other traits of Iowa's offense could be an ongo- ing development. "I do think that Brian Ferentz will be a little more di- verse and probably brings in some of the elements that he is familiar with from his time in the NFL with the New England Patriots," said Tom Kakert, who covers Iowa for, the Rivals site. "I believe we will see Iowa return to featuring the tight end position more than they have the past few years." That's a good idea, considering only one receiver re- turns who caught a pass last season. And that guy, Matt VandeBerg, didn't play the last half of the season after breaking his foot and broke it again in the winter. If he can stay healthy, he'll be the unquestioned No. 1 after a solid junior season in 2015 (65 catches, 703 yards, 4 TDs). Also a good idea considering Iowa enters the season without a clear frontrunner to replace C.J. Beathard at quarterback. Nathan Stanley rose up to the backup spot as a true freshman last season and was listed as the starter to begin spring practice. But Stanley didn't grab control this spring, leaving room for Tyler Wiegers to make a move in camp. "My sense is the Iowa coaches would like to see Stan- ley step up and grab the job," Kakert said. "I think we will see that happen in the first couple of weeks of fall camp." Perhaps Iowa's defense will need to surge to allow the new QB to settle in. There's confidence, for one, in the linebacking corps that returns three starters: Josey Jewell (124 tackles, 9 PBUs), Bo Bower (91 tackles) and Ben Niemann (69 tack- les, INT). And there are good defensive ends in returning players in Anthony Nelson (6 sacks), Matt Nelson (5.5 sacks) and Parker Hesse (4 sacks). Plus, five-star true freshman A.J. Epenesa should provide immediate help. But there are questions in the secondary after losing long-time starters Desmond King and Greg Mabin and after free safety Brandon Snyder (85 tackles, 3 INTs) tore his ACL in the spring. Snyder will be replaced by Jake Gervase, who had three interceptions in the spring game. Miles Taylor is a three-year starter at strong safety but essentially lost his job late last year. At corner, Manny Rugamba proved more than capable filling in when Ma- bin was injured late last year. The schedule is loaded, though, with road games at Northwestern, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska and crossover home games with Ohio State and Penn State. So "success" could hinge on how well Iowa's new pieces develop. "For Iowa to win the Big Ten West, they are going to have to see a quarterback emerge to lead the offense and quick development at wide receiver," Kakert said. "The hallmarks of a 10-plus-win team under Kirk Ferentz are a defense that stops the run and creates turnovers. When they struggle to do both, it's usually the difference be- tween a six- or seven-win Iowa team and a 10-win squad." — Stacy Clardie

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