Kirk Ferentz points to Iowa football offensive line as source for 2022 struggles, focal point for improvement in 2023

Ferentz told reporters Wednesday the offensive line was more inexperienced than he’d like last season, but he anticipates a better performance up front next fall.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz watches action during a football game between Iowa and Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 24-3.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz pointed to his team’s offensive line play as a source for the lack of offensive production in 2022. With another year of experience for returning players, along with a few additions through the transfer portal, Ferentz expects that position group to improve next year. 

The Hawkeyes’ group of offensive linemen that played significant snaps last season consisted of two redshirt freshmen, four sophomores, one junior, and one senior. 

“If you look at our offensive line right now, we weren’t where we needed to be a year ago and felt the same way this year,” Ferentz said at a press conference on Wednesday. “ I think we had, I don’t want to say suffered from, but we were forced to play some guys that probably weren’t quite ready to compete at the level we’re looking for … The facts are that when you can’t do things up front, kind of cascades to the entire offense. It’s hard to run an offense when you can’t block with proficiency.”

Iowa was last in the Big Ten last season in rush yards per game and yards per rush — the only conference team that had under 100 rushing yards a contest and 3 yards a carry. The Hawkeyes also came in second-to-last in sacks allowed with 38.

Ferentz said, however, he expects better results from the offensive line in 2023.

“We’ve had some tough circumstances up there, but again, I’d just point to the way the guys have pushed forward, what they’ve done moving forward, fighting through some tough times, and right now they’re poised to really turn the corner and do some good things,” Ferentz said of his offensive line. “Excited about the two players with college experience, both Daijon [Parker] and obviously Rusty [Feth] joining our group. I think that’s going to put us in a better position.”

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The Hawkeyes added both Parker and Feth via the transfer portal this winter. 

Parker, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, originally committed to Virginia after entering the transfer portal from Saginaw Valley State. He officially flipped his commitment from Virginia to Iowa on Jan. 7.  

Feth, checking in at 6-foot-5 and 304 pounds, committed to the Hawkeyes on Jan. 29 after playing four seasons at Miami (Ohio). He started all 13 games at center during his junior season and played in 12 of the RedHawks’ 13 contests in 2022. 

Ferentz maintained that 2022 starting quarterback Spencer Petras was not solely to blame for the lack of offensive production last season. He pointed to an inexperienced offensive line and injuries at the wide receiver position for the Hawkeyes’ lackluster offense.

But Ferentz believes new projected starter Cade McNamara, who transferred from Michigan on Dec. 1, 2022, will bring a different element to the Hawkeyes’ offense in 2023. As a more mobile passer than Petras, McNamara may take some pressure off the offensive line. 

“We were always going to try to get the best guy and fit what he can do best,” Ferentz said of the Hawkeyes’ search for a quarterback in the transfer portal. “Cade is a little bit more mobile, so yeah, will look a little different.”