April 11, 2012

Vandenberg talks new offense

It's been a spring of change for James Vandenberg with a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. So far, so good for the senior to be signal caller. He spoke with Big Ten writers on Tuesday about Iowa's offensive tempo speeding up, which players on offense were taking a step forward this spring, and much more.

Opening Statement

Spring ball has been going good. We are in our fourth week now and it is flying by faster than any other year. We are learning a new offense and everyone on our team is excited. Our practices have been good so far and we are looking forward to finishing off the spring right.

Q: Could you comment on the MSU defense and what stood out about them last year?

VANDENBERG: I thought they were a well rounded defense. They tackled very well and the thing that probably sticks out the most is they covered us very well. They made it hard for us to get anything easy and stopped our run game enough that we weren't able to get anything consistent going to make them honor it. They had a lot of team speed out there and covered our guys really well.

Q: When people watch Iowa's offense this year, what will be the most apparent change from last year to this year?

VANDENBERG: I think having a new play caller, you will have some different tendencies. Maybe what he likes on 3rd down compared to what Coach O'Keefe liked. We still know that we want to be balanced running the ball and passing the ball. Our passing game has maybe expanded a bit and hopefully that will help us on 3rd down situations.

Q: You guys had issues with consistency on a week to week basis last year. Is that something you guys can work through?

VANDENBERG: Yeah, I think that was something we noticed going through the season. We knew we could play good football and we didn't do it consistently enough. I think that started with road games and that was something we struggled with. That is something we are working on this spring and will work on this fall. We know that is something we have to change because you can't be a good team in this league without winning on the road, so that will be a heavy focus. Playing on the road really isn't that much different. You just have to concentrate more and we didn't do that well enough last year.

Q: How would you compare the speed of the offense to last year in terms of getting things in? It seems like you guys are going at a faster pace.

VANDENBERG: Yeah that is something Coach Davis really adds. He comes from a system that in recent years has really been up tempo, almost no huddle type offense. That is something we are experimenting with and that is something we want to do if needed. It is probably one of the harder things to do, learning a new offense and going at that pace with all the new lingo. We want to be able to do that proficiently in the fall.

Q: You lose Marvin McNutt from last year's team. Talk about some of the receivers that are coming back.

VANDENBERG: We have several guys returning that have experience, starting with Keenan Davis. He is a really big target and very similar to Marvin. Obviously his role will expand now with Marvin gone. Kevonte Martin-Manley is a young guy that did a really nice job for us. He got his feet wet for the first time and did well. We expect a lot from him as well. To go with them, I think we have a very talented group of tight ends. We have some young guys and some guys that have been here for a while in C.J. Fiedorowicz and Zach Derby. Some of the young guys are in the mix, so we have a lot of guys that can catch the ball and they have been doing really well this spring.

Q: Are there some guys that have stood out that fans will want to pay attention to?

VANDENBERG: I think the tight end group as a whole has done well for us this spring. They have come a long way, starting with the veterans in C.J. and Zach. Some of the young guys like Ray Hamilton, Jake Duzey, and Henry Krieger-Coble have been catching the ball well and expending what we can do at the tight end position. That has been really positive for us this spring.

Q: Does Coach Davis use the tight ends in the same way that Iowa has used them in the past?

VANDENBERG: I don't think it will be much different. It's a personnel group of ours that we know we need to do a good job of getting the ball to and they do a good job of catching the ball. They are all big bodies that can create space and as long as they keep catching the ball, I am going to keep throwing it to them.

Q: Talk about the challenge of going against your defense every day, especially guys like Micah Hyde and Tanner Miller in the secondary.

VANDENBERG: Those guys are what make practice enjoyable and challenging at the same time. Those guys are both experienced guys. It seems like Micah has been out there forever now and Tanner as well. They do a really nice job. They make it difficult, especially for young receivers when they get in there against the 1's in practice. They have been doing a great job all spring out there and they are doing a great job of bringing some of those young guys along as well.

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