By DUANE NOLLEN
IOWA CITY — Hawkeye football coach Kirk Ferentz said he and his staff are excited about the coming football season as the Hawkeyes take the field as a young, but experienced squad.
Ferentz told assembled members of the press on Hawkeye Football Media Day Monday that there’s “very healthy competition” for positions on both sides of the football and on special teams. Six members of the defense graduated this past year, and both running backs and the full back graduated on offense.
On defense, Ferentz said he “feels good about our guys,” especially senior defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul.
On offense, there’s “a lot of competition” on the offensive line with eight or nine in the mix. However, lineman Dace Richardson is out for the year after another surgery, Ferentz said.
At tight end, the Hawkeyes have junior Tony Moeaki and senior Brandon Meyers, while sophomore Allen Reisner made progress in the spring.
At quarterback, junior Jake Christensen has the experience, while sophomore Ricky Stanzi has been out for a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury. Ferentz also wants to see how red-shirt freshman Marvin McNutt develops.
At running back, “it’s a jump ball in all regards,” Ferentz said. Shonn Greene returns to the Hawkeye lineup this fall, but he will have to compete against fellow running backs such as Paki O’Meara, Jayme Murphy and Nate Guillory.
On special teams, while Ryan Donahue has “outstanding potential” at punter, the place kicking position is a matter of concern.
“Might have been worse in the spring than we were in the fall. That’s not a good thing,” Ferentz said. “But I think both Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker have an opportunity there.”
Ferentz also took questions in a question-and-answer session.
When asked how the season finale loss to Western Michigan impacted the team, Ferentz said: “The past is the past. You don’t ignore your past. ... You move on.”
Ferentz also fielded a question about how off-field legal problems and tough losses have affected the team.
“It’ll be a distraction if we let it be a distraction,” Ferentz said. “We’ve been pretty decisive, pretty firm.”
On questions about the defense, Ferentz was optimistic.
“I feel good,” about the linebackers, Ferentz said. “We’re going to be young initally.”
About King and Kroul, the Hawkeyes’ veteran defensive tackles, Ferentz said, “I can’t say enough.”
“They’re totally committed,” he said. As an example, some seniors will slack off in spring camp, but not King and Kroul, Ferentz said.
Ferentz also thought the new defensive ends are coming along well.
“I’ll be disappointed if our defensive line doesn’t play well,” he said.
On offense, Ferentz also praised senior wide receiver Andy Brodell. He hopes to see more of Brodell’s play that he displayed in the Minnesota game in 2006 and then at the Alamo Bowl.
“He’s been a good role model” on and off the field, Ferentz added.
The Hawkeyes take the field at home on Aug. 30 against Maine.
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at email@example.com