Kirk Ferentz gives definitive answer on who's calling the plays

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Offensive coordinator Greg Davis will continue to call the plays for Iowa's football team, even though Brian Ferentz was given the new role of run-game coordinator last month.

"You know, it's probably more of a title than anything else," 17th-year head coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday of his son's promotion. "I think we've worked pretty well together."

Kirk Ferentz was speaking for the first time since announcing a light coaching-staff shuffle that added to Brian's responsibilities as offensive line coach. The head coach said Brian, in his fourth year, would be given more responsibility to "tweak" a rushing attack that ranked seventh in the Big Ten Conference.

"He'll kind of have some final say on some run game stuff," Kirk Ferentz said. "He can veto my bad ideas probably as much as anything."

Ferentz reiterated that Davis, who is entering his fourth season as offensive coordinator after succeeding Ken O'Keefe's 13-year run, would pull the play-calling strings.

"That won't change at all," Kirk said.

Many wondered if Davis' job would be safe after a season that saw Big Ten West title aspirations turn into a 7-6 stinker, including a home loss to 2-10 Iowa State and blowout defeats vs. Minnesota and Tennessee. But Ferentz chose not to fire anyone, instead re-upping with the guys already on staff.

"We left way too many opportunities out there, but I firmly believe we've got the right people here," Ferentz said. "We've got good people, and we just have to do a better job, and that's going to be our challenge right now. If I didn't have that confidence, we would have made changes."

• New information: Ferentz said in January he and other Iowa coaches would tour opposing football programs to glean information in an effort to improve. He made good on that promise — the staff visited five universities in the past two months.

"It was really good, and I can't thank the people that have allowed us to come see them," Ferentz said. "They've been great. It's just food for thought, watch people operate in a different way, not only X's and O's but program-wise, recruiting-wise, all those types of things. I think it was healthy for us, and we'll make sure we're doing that on a periodic basis."

• Position changes: The hunt for running back depth seems never-ending at Iowa. As a result, there are two new faces in the Hawkeye backfield this spring.

Marcel Joly, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound redshirt freshman from Hyattsville, Md., approached the coaches about moving from defensive back, and they agreed.

Perhaps more intriguing, sophomore-to-be Derrick Mitchell Jr. — listed at 6-1, 205 — has moved to running back from wide receiver. He saw limited action last fall on special teams.

Ferentz was impressed with the St. Louis, Mo., native's performance on scout teams while imitating opposing running backs.

"We presented it to him, and he was really enthusiastic about it," Ferentz said. "It's an area that we're an open book right now. Just real eager to see what he does back there."

• Injuries and more: Defensive tackle Darian Cooper, who had knee surgery in August, likely is out for the spring. "I think he's got still a significant road ahead of him," Ferentz said. "We'll probably know more in June, like where he's really at, and if he can make it back." ... Ferentz said tight end Henry Krieger-Coble (shoulder) and offensive lineman Brett Waechter (shoulder) are not cleared for contact drills this spring. … Iowa's 12:30 p.m. open practice at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines on April 11 for the first time will not require a ticket.