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Tag:Derrell Johnson-Koulianos
Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 4:57 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big Ten team

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are one writer's choices for the preseason All-Big Ten team. 

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Kirk Cousins, Senior, Michigan State

For as many high-level quarterbacks as there are in the Big Ten, it looks as if the stars have aligned the best for Kirk Cousins this year. Cousins returns his stable of running backs, two of his top three wideouts (and experienced senior backups at the third receiver and starting tight end), and his same offense from 2010. Cousins also didn't suffer a catastrophic injury last year. Oh, and Cousins is a very, very good passer. There isn't another quarterback in the conference that can make all of those claims, so while the MSU schedule is just brutal this year, if any losses occur, it's unlikely that a healthy Cousins will be to blame for any of them.

Also watch for: Even without Terrelle Pryor lining up under center, this is a loaded position in the conference. Denard Robinson and Dan Persa can also make legitimate claims as the top quarterback in the conference, and Wisconsin newcomer Russell Wilson might get there by the end of the year. This is a conference where Nathan Scheelhaase and Taylor Martinez are competing to even be mentioned in the top five quarterbacks. Big Ten secondaries, beware.

RUNNING BACK

Edwin Baker, Junior, Michigan State

In a Spartan backfield loaded with depth, Baker is the best of the bunch, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 13 TDs in his sophomore campaign. Baker is a low, powerful rusher with some of the best instincts in the conference, and he’ll be counted on to produce even more -- provided he can keep his talented teammates from stealing even more carries in 2011.

Montee Ball, Junior, Wisconsin

Ball gets the nod here just for being a year ahead of his teammate listed below, but the truth is both are going to be major weapons for the Badgers this year. Ball was a hair away from hitting 1,000 yards rushing last year, but his nose for the end zone is impeccable; he scored 18 rushing touchdowns last year, which is even more ridiculous considering half-man, half-truck John Clay was also a Badger last year and scored 14 TDs of his own. 20 touchdowns is totally in play for Ball this year.

Also watch for: All the true sophomores. There's a lot of them. First of all, both Baker and Bell have superlatively talented teammates in their backfields; Ball's partner in crime is reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year James White, who racked up 1,057 yards and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman. Meanwhile, the Spartans have true sophomore big back Le'Veon Bell, who rushed for 605 yards at 5.7 yards a carry last year. Iowa boasted its own a true freshman breakout star in Marcus Coker, who scorched Missouri for 219 yards and two scores in the Insight Bowl. Penn State's starting tailback Silas Redd was also a true freshman in 2010, looking impressive as he tallied 437 yards (5.7 yards per carry) in relief of since-departed Evan Royster. Ohio State has a trio of workhorses in its backfield in Rod Smith, Jaamal Berry (8.3 ypc as, yep, a true freshman in 2010), and suspended starter Boom Herron. Meanwhile, junior Rex Burkhead (Nebraska) and senior Jason Ford (Illinois) have been significant contributors in the backfield for years, and both have opportunities to put forward a big year.

WIDE RECEIVER

Derek Moye, Senior, Penn State

Penn State may not have its quarterback situation shored up just yet, but one thing for sure is that whoever steps forward will have the conference's best target to aim at. Moye is 6'5" and fast, and he led the Nittany Lions' receiving corps with 53 catches, 885 yards, and eight TDs -- all team highs last year. Ostensibly, both Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin (PSU's dueling QBs) have an even better rapport with Moye than they did last year, so don't be surprised to see all three of Moye's stats rise in his senior campaign.

Marvin McNutt, Senior, Iowa

McNutt first came onto the scene in 2009, when he was listed ahead of returning starter (and future Iowa record-holder in career receptions and receiving yards) Derrell Johnson-Koulianos on Iowa's depth chart coming out of camp. McNutt and Johnson-Koulianos eventually played their way into starting roles alongside each other, but the more surprising aspect was that McNutt -- recruited as a quarterback out of high school, and the Hawkeyes' 3rd stringer under center the year prior -- could work his way into the starting lineup that easily. McNutt quickly emerged as the surest catcher on the team, and his big play ability has put the Hawkeyes' career touchdown reception record in dire jeopardy (he needs just five scores to match Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes at 21).

Also watch for: Jeremy Ebert of Northwestern has a record of production that's as good as just about anybody else in the conference, and his familiarity with Dan Persa is going to be key as Persa continues to work his way back from a torn Achilles tendon. Ohio State wideout DeVier Posey was a favorite target -- by a pretty wide margin -- of Terrelle Pryor, and it's hardly a stretch to think that whoever OSU's new QB might be will depend on Posey often (once Posey comes back from suspension, anyway). 6'5" Indiana WR Damarlo Belcher would probably be in the NFL today if he had held onto a game-winning 4th down pass against Iowa last season. He didn't, the Hawkeyes won, new Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson convinced Belcher to stay, and here we are. Keshawn Martin and BJ Cunningham should both put up big numbers for Kirk Cousins at MSU.  

TIGHT END

Drake Dunsmore, Senior, Northwestern

From a purist's standpoint, Dunsmore is not technically a tight end; he's classified by Northwestern as a "superback," which means he can be found all over the place in the Wildcats' different offensive sets. He fits the same role that a tight end usually does, however, mixing a healthy amount of both blocking and receiving. Think of Dunsmore as Northwestern's Frank Wycheck. Also, think of him as Dan Persa's safety valve, being the second-leading receiver returning to the Wildcats and by far the leader among Big Ten tight ends with 40 receptions in 2010.

Also watch for: If Dunsmore's role as "superback" is too much of a departure from tight end for comfort, Nebraska TE Kyler Reed could easily take Dunsmore's place on this list. Reed's athleticism makes him one of the toughest tight ends to cover in the league, and at 18 yards per reception in 2010, he's proven the ability to move chains as well as any end in the conference. His eight touchdowns (tops among Big Ten TEs) don't hurt either.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Mike Brewster, Senior, Ohio State

Forget the Big Ten, Mike Brewster might well be the best center in the nation. In a position that usually attracts shorter linemen, Brewster stands tall at 6'5" 305 and still boasts elite technique. The four-year starter has become something of a folk hero in Columbus, and for good reason: he's probably going to be an All-Pro at the next level.

Guard Kevin Zeitler, Senior, Wisconsin

Now that First Team All-Americans Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt are gone to the NFL, the Wisconsin offensive line needs a new anchor, and Zeitler likely fits that bill. Zeitler is the most experienced offensive lineman on the Badgers, with 22 starts to his name, and his senior season should be his best.

Guard Joel Foreman, Senior, Michigan State

Foreman worked his way into the starting lineup early in his redshirt freshman season, and never relinquished the role. 36 starts later, he's the premier guard in the Big Ten, and his ability to get to the second level has been critical to Michigan State's considerable success rushing the ball. Foreman's pass protection skills are also stellar; it's no accident that Kirk Cousins has flourished as a passer over the last few years.

Tackle Mike Adams, Senior, Ohio State

Mike Adams shouldn't be on this list. He should be in the NFL, because he likely would have been a first-round pick last year. His role in the tattoo scandal and subsequent NCAA investigation led Jim Tressel to demand Adams return for his suspension-shortened senior season, and here we are. With the aforementioned Carimi off in the NFL, Adams takes over the mantle as the best tackle in college football, and his return to the Buckeyes' lineup after his five-game suspension is going to be a major factor in the Buckeyes' fight to stay atop the conference.

Tackle Riley Reiff, Junior, Iowa

As Iowa's left tackle, there's no denying Reiff has big shoes to fill; his recent predecessors include former All-Americans (and first-round NFL draft picks) Robert Gallery and Bryan Bulaga. Reiff could soon fit that bill himself; he's a big, mean masher who excels in downfield blocking and at the point of attack. Reiff's pass protection isn't as impressive quite yet, but he's still got two seasons left at Iowa to take that next step. He may not need two before the NFL comes calling.

Also watch for: Michigan center David Molk would probably be first-team in just about any other conference, but with Brewster manning the role for OSU, Molk is relegated to second-team status here. RT J.B. Shugarts is a third senior starter on the line for the Buckeyes, and if his foot injury is healed, he'll likely have a big year. Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby is back from an injury that robbed him of all but two games in 2010, and he could easily play his way into all-conference consideration.  

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Cameron Meredith, Junior, Nebraska

In Meredith’s first year starting in 2010, he racked up 10 quarterback hurries and 6.5 TFLs. That would be disconcerting enough by itself, but with the bevy of talent in the front seven, most of the help blocking will have to be devoted to other defenders -- meaning Meredith will likely be on an island with his opposing tackles, terrorizing them and opposing quarterbacks all season long. Look for his sack numbers to go way up in 2011.

DE Vince Browne, Senior, Northwestern

One of the most underappreciated players in the Big Ten is probably Vince Browne, who registered seven sacks and 15.5 TFL in relative obscurity last year. The spotlight's on Browne now as a consensus preseason first-team all-Big Ten player, and his production continues to improve, he'll quickly make Wildcats fans forget about former all-conference DE Corey Wootton.

DT Jared Crick, Senior, Nebraska

It's slightly unfair to Crick (pictured above right) that he shared a defensive front with former Heisman candidate DT Ndamukong Suh, because it only invites comparisons between the two rather than letting Crick define his own legacy at Nebraska. On the other hand, earning comparisons to Suh is fantastic news for Nebraska, because it means Crick's incredible. Crick is a likely All-American at DT, with 32 TFLs to his name over the last two seasons and the potential to pass 20 TFLs this year. He's big, strong, and disruptive, which probably means instant double-teams on the majority of snaps in 2011. That still might not be enough to slow Crick down.

DT Mike Martin, Senior, Michigan

Last year, Mike Martin faced the same challenge that former teammate Brandon Graham did in 2009: being the best defensive lineman on a truly terrible defense. At the very least, Martin gets another crack at helping the Wolverines turn their defense around, and with the arrival of Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator, that looks to be a real possibility. Martin wasn't at 100% very often last year, but he's healthy right now, and that plus the move back to a 4-3 lineup (with space eater William Campbell next to him at NT) should be enough to propel Martin and the Wolverines DL to a much-improved season.

Also watch for: Jerel Worthy is a monster on the interior for Michigan State and may supplant Martin as a first-team DT by season's end; Worthy's production needs to improve, though. Iowa DT Mike Daniels is in his second year of starting, and the aggressive senior showed flashes of potential last season. He's going from the "fifth starter" in 2010 to the leader of the retooling Iowa defensive line. Ohio State DE Nathan Williams is in his second year starting for the Buckeyes, and he's expected to put together a solid senior year.

LINEBACKER

Michael Mauti, Junior, Penn State

When healthy, Mauti is one of the most fearsome linebackers in the Big Ten. It's that health that poses a bit of an issue. Mauti missed all of 2009 with an ACL injury, then struggled through various maladies last season -- including a shoulder injury suffered against Ohio State. Sheer probability suggests Mauti will have better luck with injuries this year, and he's manning the inside linebacker spot in a defense that puts the ILB in the best position to make plays. Tackles will be plentiful for the talented junior this year.

Lavonte David, Senior, Nebraska

It's bad enough for Nebraska's opposing offensive linemen that they have to deal with Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler at defensive tackle at the same time. It's worse that behind them lurks All-American candidate MLB Lavonte David. With needing three blockers to engage Crick and Steinkuhler a near-certainty, Davis will be free to get to the edges and and hit the point of attack, both things the speedy linebacker can do extremely well. Look for unholy amounts of production from David in 2011.

Chris Borland, Sophomore, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's defense wasn't spectacular last year, but with an offense scoring over 30 points in all but one Big Ten game, it didn't need to be. That defense is getting a major boost this year as 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Borland returns after taking a medical redshirt last season. Borland is strong and aggressive, and he represents a significant step up from departing MLB Culmer St. Jean. It wasn't exactly easy to run on Wisconsin last year, but it'll be legitimately tough now.

Also watch for: Andrew Sweat takes over as the leader of Ohio State's defense now, and the rangy OLB is poised for a big year. Iowa MLB James Morris stepped in as a 215-pound true freshman last year, and now that he's bigger, he may never leave the starting lineup; Iowa coaches are especially high on him. Senior Nate Stupar is versatile and productive, and he'll help bolster the Penn State linebacking corps in a big way.

SECONDARY

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Senior, Nebraska

With former teammate and All-American CB Prince Amukamara off to the NFL, it's Dennard's time to shine as Nebraska's lockdown cornerback. He showed all the necessary potential last year as opposing quarterbacks threw for under 50% all season long (tops among BCS teams), and while the loss of Amukamara might push opposing passer ratings up a bit, throwing at Dennard is still going to be a terrible, terrible idea. 

Cornerback Shaun Prater, Senior, Iowa

Prater's interceptions are about to drop precipitously. Not because the returning All-Big Ten cornerback is about to get any worse, but with his accolades and the uncertainty in the rest of the Iowa secondary, there isn't going to be a whole lot of sense in testing Prater anymore.

Safety Aaron Henry, Senior, Wisconsin

Henry, a cornerback for the Badgers until 2010, made a successful transition to safety by registering 58 tackles, seven PBUs, and a pair of interceptions last year. With a year of experience at free safety under his belt and a wealth of athleticism to boot, Henry should be even better in 2011.

Safety Trenton Robinson, Senior, Michigan State

It's hard to argue with results, so it's hard to argue with Trenton Robinson's eight passes broken up and four interceptions; only Northwestern cornerback Jordan Mabin had more passes defended last season, with 14 PBUs and a pick. Robinson is also the leading tackler among returning MSU starters, so look for a big senior year in center field for him.

Also watch for: Iowa CB-turned-safety Micah Hyde might have a case for being on this list after scoring two touchdowns off interceptions last year, but he’ll need to produce at his new position for Iowa before any accolades come his way. True sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen is a rising star in Purdue’s secondary after two defensive scores of his own; he’ll be getting All-American consideration before his career’s over. Also, as mentioned before, Jordan Mabin led the conference in passes broken up by a pretty substantial margin. That's worth something.

Specialists

KICKER

Derek Dimke, Senior, Illinois

Dimke is the returning first-team All-Big Ten kicker, and for good reason; the Lou Groza watch list member was 24-29 on field goals last year, and he's got one of the strongest legs in the conference. Look for another all-conference performance this year.

PUNTER

Brad Nortman, Senior, Wisconsin

Not only is Nortman one of the best (if not often-used) punters in the conference, he also led the Big Ten in rushing average after gaining 17 yards on a fake punt in Wisconsin's 31-30 win over Iowa last year. Sadly, Nortman's one rushing attempt did not qualify him for the official league crown. With the top three punters in the 2010 Big Ten all graduating, Nortman has an opportunity to step up and put together a big senior year.

Posted on: February 26, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Marvin McNutt out for spring after surgeries

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As the Iowa Hawkeyes head into spring practice, the passing game is going to look a little different. Okay, a lot different. Between the starting quarterback (Ricky Stanzi), starting tight end (Allen Reisner), and top three wide receivers (Marvin McNutt, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Colin Sandeman), all were seniors except for McNutt, a junior.

As it turns out, even McNutt won't be around for spring practice either; as the Cedar Rapids Gazette's Marc Morehouse reported today, McNutt is out for the spring with multiple maladies:

McNutt had surgery on a thumb and shoulder recently. He probably wouldn’t have done much this spring anyway, being a decorated senior receiver who’s put up numbers the last two years, but this clinches it. He is expected to be ready for fall camp.

Junior-to-be Keenan Davis is a likely beneficiary here, as Davis is now the most experienced wideout in spring practice. In fact, with McNutt sidelined, Davis' 11 catches for 131 yards and a score not only lead the returning wideouts in 2010 production, they do so by default; none of the other wide receivers in spring practice caught a pass in 2010. That Davis spent most of last season taking practice snaps with presumed 2011 starting QB James Vandenberg is a nice bonus. 

Thus, there's going to be a wide-open competition for the spot opposite Davis in the first team for spring practice. Johnson-Koulianos publicly praised freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley (redshirted in 2010) as having "my senior skills as a freshman", but considering the way DJK's Iowa career ended, it's probably safe to assume that Kirk Ferentz isn't exactly clamoring to hear endorsements from him. Still, so long as DJK's recommendation wasn't made from whole cloth, the McNutt/Davis/Martin-Manley trio could be formidable in 2011.

Also, as noted before, McNutt should be good to go for the start of the 2011 season, and that's notable from a record book perspective; McNutt has 16 career touchdown receptions, and the Iowa record is 21 (held by Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes). Six more is not only doable, but downright expected. That shoulder needs to hold up first, though.

Posted on: January 26, 2011 8:03 pm
 

Iowa news conference a near-total disaster

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the wake of the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis that sent now 13 Iowa players to the hospital (another was admitted today), fans have understandably been looking for more answers from the university than just "'safe and stable' with an undisclosed illness." To that end, the university athletic department held a press conference late this afternoon to address the situation.

Except, head coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't there; he was still getting back into town from his recruiting trip. And athletic director Gary Barta wasn't there; he presumably had better things to do. No Iowa football coaches were there at all, including strength and condiitioning coach Chris Doyle or any of his asistants. In fact, the only three people at the press conference were director of football operations Paul Federici, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics kidney specialist John Stokes, and freshman linebacker Jim Poggi's father, Biff Poggi.

What ensued, at least for the first part of the the conference, was another exercise in stonewalling and excessive privacy from Iowa. While we can't expect Stokes or Federici to address the players' identities and conditions -- that would be a direct violation of not only the trust of players and their families, but federal HIPPA laws about patient privacy as well -- we can certainly expect more than Federici's abject refusal to admit any knowledge of any particulars about the offseason workouts other than what days they took place. Again, he's the director of football operations at Iowa. Does Federici -- who was a former head of training at Iowa before moving into his administrative role -- seriously have no personal knowledge of what happens during these offseason workouts? Is that even remotely acceptable? 

In fact, Biff Poggi went into more detail about the workouts and the conditions of the players than both Stokes and Federici ever did, as the latter two hid behind lack of personal knowledge and an unusually broad interpretation of the HIPPA laws. Obviously, when Jim Poggi started posting (since-deleted) details of his hospitalization on Facebook, that expectation of privacy went out the window and Biff Poggi was allowed to address his son's condition. Poggi also addressed the prevailing mood of the hospitalized players, saying "they want to get back and start playing."

While it's obviously disconcerting that neither Barta nor Ferentz were at the press conference, it's also naive to believe that either would have said, well, anything substantial or above what Federici would have said -- namely, that the workouts happened on specific days and that they were within NCAA regulations. Anyone who believes otherwise has a very short memory, considering the dearth of specifics that came from the last press conference Iowa held. That was just last month, as Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had been arrested the week prior and rumors had been flying about potential drug use on the team. That day, it was 60% an overview of Iowa's drug testing, 35% of hectoring the Internet, and 5% of new information; the ratio would likely have been similar today.

It's like this far too often at Iowa. Whenever something bad happens, communication from the athletic department is so insufficient that it creates a vacuum of information, and speculation from outside sources fills that vacuum every single time. That's not an Iowa-only phenomenon, it's how PR works. To have 12 (eventually 13) players admitted to a hospital at once with a similar medical issue (and make no mistake, the Iowa trainers clearly had a very good idea of what that issue was when they referred the players to the hospital, to say nothing of by the time that press release had been sent the next day) and expect the matter to be resolved with "no further comment" is at best irresponsible behavior for an athletic department. At worst, it's incompetent and borderline exploitative.

And it's just par for the course for Iowa.

Posted on: January 24, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 4:42 pm
 

Johnson-Koulianos drug charges dropped, deferred

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (or "DJK," as he's commonly known), a charismatic and productive senior wide receiver who was dismissed from the Iowa football team after being arrested for numerous drug charges, may have a clean criminal record again in just 12 months. Last week, Johnson County prosecutors declined to pursue drug house charge, leaving just the possession charges. Now, as the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports, Johnson-Koulianos has pled guilty to marijuana possession in exchange for all the other charges being dropped.

Better yet for Johnson-Koulianos, the judge granted him a deferred judgment on the marijuana charge, meaning that if DJK stays out of trouble for 12 months while on unsupervised probation, the charge will be dropped:

Sixth Judicial District Associate Court Judge Stephen Gerard II said in the ruling that he granted the deferred judgment based on Johnson-Koulianos’ age, lack of prior record, absence of any weapons used in commission of the crime, and “greater opportunities for rehabilitation outside of a place of incarceration.”

Now, this is a college football blog and not a drug policy blog, so we'll keep this brief: it is refreshing to see a judge recognize that prison is no place for a non-violent, first-time drug offender, regardless of his or her football acumen or affiliation. The responsibility is squarely on DJK's shoulders to make sure he keeps up his end of the bargain, of course, but granting people in his situation responsibility is generally a much more positive decision for society as a whole than locking someone like that up for an extended period of time.

Past that, this ruling doesn't affect DJK's standing with the Hawkeyes in any material fashion. Kirk Ferentz closed the door on any further involvement between DJK and the football program back in December, and DJK has already moved to Chicago to train for the NFL Draft with EFT Sports Performance. He's also currently in Texas training for February's NFLPA Game (formerly "Texas vs. the Nation"). As to whether he'll be drafted, that's tough to say; arrests are always red flags in a NFL GM's eyes regardless of their resolution, and that executive-level paranoia only intensifies the closer the incident is to the draft itself. But as Iowa's all-time leading receiver, Johnson-Koulianos should at least be on several teams' radars, and if he's really got the talent to play at the next level, a roster spot is all he'll need.


Posted on: January 17, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Adam Robinson wants to return to Iowa

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's been two weeks since Adam Robinson was kicked off of the Iowa football team by head coach Kirk Ferentz, and now that some time has passed, Robinson is hoping he can work his way back on the team.  Over the weekend, and under the advice of his attorney, Robinson called a pseudo-press conference with select members of the Iowa media.

In that press conference Robinson apologized for the actions that led to his dismissal, and expressed his desire to return to the Hawkeyes.

“I apologize to my family, former teammates, coaches, my friends, the Hawkeye nation and everyone who supported me,” said Robinson. "I know I have disappointed you, and let you down. For that, I am sorry.  I promise to do better, and I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me.”

Robinson is seeking forgiveness for what Kirk Ferentz coined as "academic indigestion" along with a charge for marijuana possession after being pulled over in a car with marijuana in it.  Considering Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had recently been arrested for living in what the police deemed a "drug house," it's hard to blame Ferentz for his decision.  He's trying to clean up the image of his program.

That being said, what Robinson has done is not exactly along the lines of a "drug house."  He was a college kid caught with pot.  Imagine that.  Robinson is enrolled in classes at Iowa this semester, and if he gets the work done and clears up the "indigestion," then I'd like to think Ferentz would reinstate him on the football team.  He's made a mistake, he's apologized, and now he's working to fix it.

I'm not sure what else Ferentz or the Iowa football program could ask of him.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Iowa gives Adam Robinson the boot

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Iowa may have won the Insight Bowl against Missouri last week, just about all the news coming out of Iowa City over the last month has had to do with players getting busted with drugs.  There was Derrell Johnson-Koulianos running that drug house of his, and then, after he was already suspended for the bowl game, running back Adam Robinson got busted with marijuana in his car.

Well, it seems that, once again, pot is a gateway drug to Coker.  Or in this case, Marcus Coker.  I guess that seeing Coker rush for 219 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri was all Kirk Ferentz needed to make a decision on Robinson's future at Iowa.  That decision being that Robinson will no longer have a future at Iowa.

“Running Back Adam Robinson has been dismissed from The University of Iowa Football team,” said Ferentz in a typically verbose, and confusing statement.

Which means that the three running backs who began 2010 on top of the Iowa depth chart are no longer with the team.  Robinson follows Brandon Wegher and Jewel Hampton out the door.  Robinson was rather productive during his first two seasons with the Hawkeyes, too, rushing for 1,775 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 8:36 am
Edited on: December 29, 2010 8:47 am
 

Bowl Grades: Insight Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Iowa used a interception return and a late replay overturn to upend Missouri in the fourth quarter, 27-24.

Iowa

Offense: A star was born for the Iowa Hawkeyes in Marcus Coker , a 230-pound true freshman tailback who gashed Missouri for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. Coker's workhorse production -- both his carries and yardage were Iowa bowl records -- overshadowed the absence of starting tallback Adam Robinson , who was already suspended for academic reasons before his arrest Monday night. Coker showcased both power and speed, running over some tacklers and and running away from others, and his blitz pickup was stellar: Ricky Stanzi wasn't sacked all night.

And yet Stanzi was dismal in the second half; he threw two interceptions, and about three more passes that deserved to be picked off. A Missouri interception with under eight minutes to go seemed to put Iowa in a major hole, and if it weren't for the Micah Hyde pick-six on the ensuing possession -- more on that later -- there's no telling whether Stanzi could have driven the Hawkeyes for one last touchdown. It's an odd end for Stanzi's career as a Hawkeye to see him struggle, but get a win for it anyway, but college football can be an odd sport. Grade: B

Defense: What's better to focus on? The Micah Hyde interception and return for a touchdown that eventually won the game for Iowa, or the other 56 passes in which Blaine Gabbert passed for over 400 yards? In truth, both are immensely important in evaluating the Hawkeye defense, which took its "bend but don't break" philosophy to its absurd extreme tonight.

Still, for as much as Iowa's pass defense has been lauded, linebacker Troy Johnson was routinely victimized by Gabbert to the point that he was taken off the field in the first half and never heard from again -- to the point that Johnson was passed up for by true freshmen during the second half. It's good that Iowa took those steps, but if they were necessary, why was Johnson on the field in the first place? Grade: B-

Coaching: Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz deserves a great deal of credit for getting his team focused on the bowl game in spite of numerous off-field distractions, culminating in Robinson's arrest the day before the bowl game. It would be ridiculous to say Iowa didn't miss arrested wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos at the other WR spot -- just look at Stanzi's production in the second half -- but the offense stil produced all the same. That was hardly a given coming into the game, and the fact that Ferentz's boys come through to finish the first three-game bowl winning streak in Iowa history speaks volumes to Ferentz's abilities as a coach. Grade: B+

Missouri

Offense: Blaine Gabbert threw 18 completions for over 10 yards on the day, and his 41-57 performance doesn't truly give proper credit for his ability to hit his receivers in stride--half of Gabbert's incompletions hit his targets before bounding harmlessly incomplete. That was basically all the Missouri offense could do; situational running was a noted for its fumbles and failures as it was for its chains-moving. Blaine Gabbert threw for over 400 yards and his offense scored only 20 points; clearly, there's a bottleneck in play.

And yet, the Missouri receivers absolutely excelled. Wes Kemp had some highlight-reel catches as he overcame his season-long bout with the dropsies, T.J. Moe set an Insight Bowl record with 15 catches, and All-American TE Michael Egnew came alive in the second half to finish with seven catches for 64 yards and a score. Assigning blame for Missouri's loss to anybody on the offense seems a little silly. If T.J. Moe hadn't bobbled the 4th down pass after hitting the ground late in the game, as replay officials determined, there's no telling how Missouri would have finished the game. Grade: A-

Defense: Missouri's pass defense was its stingy self, but the image of the night was Marcus Coker trucking Missouri safety Jerrell Harrison on a 3rd and 1, then taking the ball for 30 more yards. Missouri's vaulted secondary ket Ricky Stanzi in check, but it ceded about seven yards a carry to Coker, and Iowa was wable to move the chains pretty much at will as a result. Aldon Smith and the rest of the Missouri defense line were essentially non-factors. Grade: C

Coaching: Iowa's first MVP for the game is Marcus Coker. Its second MVP is Missouri coach Gary Pinkel , who had a 3rd and 2 inside Iowa's 10-yard line after Gabbert had shredded the Iowa secondary on the opening drive, then called a QB keeper and a field goal. Oh, then Pinkel punted from Iowa's 40-yard line on a 4th and 6 in the second quarter. Pinkel also called numerous unorthodox runs in late-half situations, none of which got the ball out of bounds or otherwise challenged the Iowa defense. For as close as this game was and for as easily as Missouri moved the ball in the first half, it would be enormously presumptive to assume Miisouri wouldn't have scored any points if it had attempted both 4th downs. Would Missouri have struggled to keep a lead in the second half if it had maximized its point production in the first half? Grade: D

Final Grade

This may not have been quite as exciting a game as the Little Caesar's Bowl, but it was close, and the fact that Iowa made the fourth quarter comeback that eluded it during the entire 2010 season makes the game quite an important relic. The overturned catch call that handed Iowa the game will properly be scrutinized during the off-season, and Missouri fans can call foul until next September. Still, what a wonderful game for fans of both the Big Ten and Big 12 to watch, and what a redemption for an Iowa program that desperately needed a shot of good news for its seniors, who won 28 games and three straight bowl games -- the last of which is an Iowa senior record. If there's a mitigating factor for Missouri, it's that too much is generally made of bowl results; recall that just last year, Iowa was celebrating an Orange Bowl championship and setting its sights on higher accolades, while only the hardest of hardcore Missouri fans were tabbing this team for 10 wins.

If Blaine Gabbert comes back, Missouri is easily a 10-win candidate again in 2011. If this game is an encapsulation of a larger truth, Gabbert's pro prospects are definitely higher than those of Ricky Stanzi, who struggled mightily against an upper-echelon secondary in the second half. And yet, Iowa takes one last whack at its awful "Can't Finish" reputation with this win and sets the Law of Averages back on its way, while Missouri fans hope the loss means Gabbert's got another year in him in Columbia. All that and a 60-minute, 3-point game to show for it's pretty good, no? Grade: A


Posted on: December 28, 2010 4:40 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 4:41 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Insight Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Why to Watch: For those who enjoy a good storyline, the Insight Bowl's got plenty of reasons to imagine that a blood feud is about to get its next chapter. The Iowa - Missouri rivalry is one that predates football itself, as the "Honey War" can attest, and a series of racist and savage acts by the Missouri fans led to a 100-year freeze in the rivalry (not that the 100-year thing was specifically mandated; Iowa and Missouri were contracted to start a series in 2005, but that fell through). These guys must really hate each other (if they're historians)!

For those more concerned with actual football, the Insight Bowl represents an opportunity to see two highly touted quarterbacks at work, not to mention two big-play defenses. Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi spent a good portion of the season in the top 5 nationwide in passing efficiency, and while Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert didn't go downfield nearly enough to match Stanzi's efficiency numbers, Gabbert did lead the Tigers to more points than the Hawkeyes scored on the year.

Keys to victory for Iowa: Obviously, the Hawkeyes' season didn't quite go as fans had hoped, and summer BCS dreams quickly gave way to a cold autumn's angst as the Hawkeyes melted down in November. Those who looked at Iowa's three-loss streak as a low point of the season were quickly proven wrong when star wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was arrested on a litany of drug charges, and rumors swirled about other misdeeds on the program for days until Kirk Ferentz addressed them at a press conference the next week. Not helping the matter was the fact that Ferentz was announcing that other players (all tailbacks) would be missing the Insight Bowl.

Thus, if there's one challenge for Iowa, it's to put the past behind it and have the seniors go out and play one last good game in the black and gold. Easier said than done, of course, when the team has such a rich history of 4th quarter collapses, but the talent's at least there to give Missouri a fight.

Keys to victory for Missouri: The Tigers allowed a hair under 16 points a game in Big XII play, and that defense is going to have another opportunity to shine tonight. As mentioned before, Iowa is without Derrell Johnson-Koulianos after his multiple drug charges got him kicked off the team, and it also misses starting tailback Adam Robinson , who was suspended for academic reasons even before his arrest (drug charges!) on Monday night. Combine those losses with a patchwork Iowa offensive line, and Missouri should be able to disrupt the Iowa offense without much difficulty.

That's not to say that the Tigers' offense will find an easy task ahead on the field; Iowa's defense has also been stout on the season, and while it struggled in the 4th quarter on numerous occasions, Iowa also had no problem running up insurmountably large leads on bowl teams Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State over the course of the year. Fortunately for Missouri, Iowa's pass defense has struggled on medium-range throws, thanks to inexperience and injuries in the LB corps, and that's where Gabbert likes to find All-American TE Michael Egnew . Egnew won't stretch the field, but he'll move the chains and wear down the defense. Getting Gabbert into a rhythm with Egnew and top wideout T.J. Moe will be crucial.

The Insight Bowl is like: a beloved upscale restaurant that recently lost a Michelin star. Iowa and Missouri both spent time in the Top 10 this season, and if you'd have heard back in October that they'd be meeting in a bowl at the end of the year, you'd have probably guessed a BCS bowl before the Insight Bowl, which hosted 6-6 powerhouses Iowa State and Minnesota last season. Yet here we are, after Iowa took a dive in the standings and Missouri tumbled down the iist of Big XII bowl priority for the umpteenth year in a row. The drop in reputation for both is troubling, but like your next meal at that restaurant after losing the Michelin star, the next experience will be instructive as to why that happened. Are the teams really not as good as advertised? Is it just the result of correctable mistakes? Can we enjoy them as if nothing bad had ever happened? Is it really worth it to spend three hours with them this late at night after this hit in the ratings? Tune in and we'll find out.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com