Iowa (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) has only four Big Ten regular-season games left and for the team to continue improving, C.J. Fiedorowicz must live up to his potential as the next great Hawkeye tight end.
Last week, Fiedorowicz caught the game-winning touchdown to beat Northwestern in overtime 17-10. The problem is that he only caught two passes from sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock and is seldom used in the passing game.
Fiedorowicz doesn’t have impressive stats thus far – he has 17 catches for only 153 yards – but he does have Rudock’s trust in the redzone and that’s why he leads the team in touchdown receptions (4).
Last season Fiedorowicz was billed as the next great Hawkeye tight end – following in the footsteps of Dallas Clark, Tony Moeki, and Scott Chandler – but the offense didn’t adjust to offensive coordinator Greg Davis’s new system.
Fiedorowicz finished the 2012 season with 45 receptions for 433 yards and just one touchdown.
The Hawkeyes passing game has never been very dynamic – minus the 2009-10 season with Ricky Stanzi was at the helm – becuase head coach Kirk Ferentz’s prefers to rush the ball with tailback Mark Weisman.
Ferentz’s lack of creativity on offense is well-documented but he has a 6-foot-7 tight end in Fiedorowicz that could significantly improve the passing game if he was targeted more often. All season long, the passing attack has been a question mark because of Iowa’s lack of tall and experienced recievers.
Kevonte Martin-Manley is the most experienced wide-out the Hawkeyes have but at 6’1 he isn’t quite the go-up and get it reciever every quartback needs in their arsenal. Iowa’s other recievers aren’t targeted enough to make a significant impact and are only passed to on specific plays, which makes it difficult for any of them to truly dominate a game.
Iowa’s offense has revolved around Weisman – he’s rushed for 732 yards on 149 carries and three touchdowns – but he hasn’t been able to replicate his early-season success against the Big Ten.
In the last three games, Weisman has rushed for just 117 yards on 30 carries and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Sept. 21 against Western Michigan.
Given Iowa’s schedule the rest of the way – they’ll face no.24 Wisconsin on Saturday – it seems as though the ground game will continue to have trouble against stout Big Ten defenses. If the Hawkeyes want to continue winning games they’ll need to better utilize the passing game.
Ferentz and Davis will also need to design more plays for Rudock to throw the ball to the Hawkeyes most dangerous recieving threat, Fiedorowicz.