Sep 15, 2012; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback James Vandenberg (16) leads the team to the field before the game against the Northern Iowa Panthers at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Purdy/The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Conference Football Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes (Part 1: Offense)

The Iowa Hawkeyes come into the 2013 season after finishing tied for 5th in the Big Ten – Legends with an overall record of 4-8 and a conference record of 2-6. The Hawkeyes will look to end this season a lot better than they ended last season. After opening with a 4-2 overall record, they lost six straight Big Ten conference games to end the year.

Here’s a look at the averages they had per game and their rankings compared to the other schools in Division I:

  • Total: 310.4 yards per game (117th overall)
  • Passing: 187.4 yards per game (102nd overall)
  • Rushing: 123.0 yards per game (104th overall)

September 29, 2012; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeye running back Mark Weisman (45) runs free against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the second half at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes beat the Gophers 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest challenges Iowa will face this upcoming season will be replacing starting quarterback James Vandenberg.

Vandenberg was the Hawkeyes’ main starter last season as he started in all twelve games. During his twelve starts, he recorded 2,249 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Vandenberg might not have produced many touchdowns in 2012, but his 2,249 passing yards was the fifth most passing yards in the Big Ten.

On top of passing, Vandenberg scored four rushing touchdowns on only sixteen yards.

Right now, Iowa has four quarterbacks on their roster, but there is a good chance that redshirt junior Cody Sokol could be starting for the Hawkeyes to start of the 2013 season.

Sokol was a junior college recruit who committed to Iowa in December 2011 (redshirted last season).

Sokol spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona. During his career in Scottsdale, he threw a total of 5,848 passing yards, 66 touchdowns, and fourteen interceptions. 43 of his 66 touchdowns came during his 2011 season.

The Hawkeyes should be in good shape if Sokol has half as good of a season in 2013 as he did at Scottsdale Community College.

Although they lost their starting quarterback, Iowa will be returning their leading rusher and receiver from last season. Mark Weisman and Kevonte Martin-Manley will both be returning to Iowa in 2013.

Weisman led the Hawkeyes in rushing last season as he recorded 815 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in just ten games. Martin-Manley led the team in receiving yards with 571 yards, but only recorded two receiving touchdowns.

In the end, Iowa’s offensive success in 2013 will come down to who is starting at the quarterback position and right now it looks like Cody Sokol gives them the best chance to win.

More Key Offensive Players:

  • Damon Bullock (junior running back) – 513 rushing yards and 167 receiving yards in 2012
  • Jordan Cotton (senior wide receiver) – 172 receiving yards in 2012
  • C.J. Fiedorowicz (senior tight end) – 433 receiving yards in 2012

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Tags: Cody Sokol Football Illinois Fighting Illini Iowa Hawkeyes

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