The Hawkeyes controlled games on the ground during a four-game stretch when converted fullback Mark Weisman ran for more than 600 yards and eight touchdowns, but he fought through lingering leg issues and valued linemen Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal were lost for the season.
There were no such excuses for the passing game. Everyone was healthy, but hardly anyone was productive.
Still, Ferentz believes that Davis — who won a national title during his tenure under Mack Brown at Texas — is the right man to fix what’s broken.
“There’s a learning curve for all of us. I think Greg is probably a smarter Iowa coach than he was in February,” Ferentz said.
The silver lining for the Hawkeyes is that they’ll return as many as 16 starters. Whoever ends up becoming the starting quarterback will also likely have a better season than Vandenberg did in 2012, if only because there’s nowhere to go but up.
The longtime coach is confident the Hawkeyes are close to winning again after missing out on a bowl game trip for just the second time in 12 years.
“We all realize we have a lot of work to do, but this is hardly a hopeless situation,” Ferentz said. “It’s not like we’re trying to climb Mount Everest here.”