Kevonte Martin-Manley

SEC East remains perfect as Vols top Hawkeyes

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All those who thought the East would be the SEC’s postseason “savior,” raise your hands.  Now put them right back down because all y’all are lying.

Yet that’s where things stand as Tennessee (7-6), after jumping out to a 35-7 lead at halftime, cruised home to a 45-28 win over overmatched Iowa (7-6) in the TaxSlayer Bowl.  It marked the football program’s first bowl win since the 2007 season, a 21-17 win over Wisconsin in the 2008 Outback Bowl.  Since that win, UT has changed coaches on three different occasions.

The win also kept the SEC East’s record in the 2014-15 bowl cycle perfect at 4-0, with Florida, in the Birmingham Bowl vs. East Carolina Saturday, still remaining.  The SEC West, the dominant division in 2014, went an abysmal 2-5.

Another thing the impressive win did?  Set UT’s bar for the 2015 season high, perhaps unreasonably high.  The Vols were one of the youngest teams in the country, and will likely be one of those trendy “dark-horse” selections in preseason Top 25s.  They might be a year away from such heights, however.

Regardless, it was an impressive display against the Hawkeyes, with Josh Dobbs again leading the way.

In leading the Vols to a fourth win in five games since taking over under center, Dobbs accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) and 205 yards of offense.  For his efforts, Dobbs was named as the Player of the Game.

Freshman Jalen Hurd ran for a career-high 122 yards, and scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time as a Vol.

Jordan Canzeri ran for 120 yards, on 12 carries, in the loss, the second time in his career the junior has topped 100 yards in a game. On his third reception of the game, Kevonte Martin-Manley set an Iowa record for career receptions with 174.

Iowa was losing 45-14 late in the fourth quarter before a pair of touchdowns in the last 3:30 made the game seem a lot closer than it actually was.

With the Hawkeyes’ loss, the Big Ten is now an even 5-5 this postseason, a mark that’s behind the Pac-12 (5-1) and SEC (6-5) among Power Five conferences.  Including all FBS leagues, that mark would be behind Conference USA (4-1) as well.

Ohio State, with a date with Oregon two Mondays from now, is the lone remaining B1G team with a game left to play.

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 25 Iowa

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2013 record: 8-5 overall, 5-3 in Big Ten (3rd in Legends division)
2013 postseason: Outback Bowl vs. LSU (21-14 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: unranked/unranked
Head coach: Kirk Ferentz (108-79 overall; 108-79 in 16 years at Iowa)
Offensive coordinator: Greg Davis (3rd year at Iowa)
2013 offensive rankings: 51st rushing offense (179.85 ypg); 95th passing offense (197.1 ypg); 85th total offense (376.9 ypg); 79th scoring offense (26.3 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 8
Defensive coordinator: Phil Parker (16th year at Iowa)
2013 defensive rankings: 19th rushing defense (128.38 ypg); 9th passing defense (174.7 ypg); 6th total defense (303.1 ypg); 9th scoring defense (18.9 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 5
Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Stadium: Kinnick Stadium (70,585; Field Turf)
Last conference title: 2004 (split with Michigan)

THE GOOD
Iowa returns eight starters on offense, including quarterback Jake Rudock, leading rusher Mark Weisman, leading receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley and three offensive linemen.The schedule is also favorable by avoiding conference games against Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State. In addition, Iowa gets Wisconsin and Nebraska at home in what could turn out to be two crucial games in the Big Ten West at the end fo the season.

THE BAD
Although Iowa generally has a solid defensive unit, there are some holes to fill on that side of the football in 2014. Iowa loses six starters from last year’s team, including all three linebackers and a pair of defensive backs. Three of those lost defensive leaders accounted for 322 tackles last season. Four of the top five tacklers from last year’s team are gone, which means there is room for new players to step up into big roles this fall at Iowa. It is a considerable amount of turnover for the Hawkeyes defense, but Iowa will have some time to figure it all out before Big Ten play.

THE UNKNOWN
Is this an Iowa team that resurfaces every few years to make a Big Ten run when few are paying attention, or will this be another year of mediocre to slightly above average play? Health stability is always a concern for Iowa it seems and it could quickly derail any high hopes Iowa may have for this season. The schedule sets things up nicely for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes still have to prove they can grab a hold of things. Ball State may not be a pushover but they will not be Northern Illinois (which beat Iowa last season). Iowa State can always be a toss-up it seems, and a road game at Pittsburgh should be a good test before Big Ten play. Can Iowa get out of that early stretch without a blemish or will they be limping into Big Ten play already?

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: at Minnesota
Iowa’s schedule is very favorable when it comes to Big Ten play. As long as the Hawkeyes can avoid slipping up before November, the final two games of the season at home against Wisconsin and Nebraska could leave the Hawkeyes in control of the West Division championship. But before Iowa can worry about that they will have to come out of Minnesota with a win on November 8. If all goes to plan before then, this will be Iowa’s last real road challenge before entering the final stretch of the season. Iowa has won each of the previous two meetings with the Gophers by double digits, but they will not be able to get too confident this season with so much possibly on the line. Win and the Big Ten West could be theirs to lose. Lose and they will likely lose ground to Wisconsin and/or Nebraska with time running out.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: RB Mark Weisman
Weisman for Heisman? That may be a reach, but his importance to Iowa team this year is not to be taken lightly.  After leading the Hawkeyes in rushing with 975 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago, Mark Weisman appears to be ready to lead the charge on the ground once again this fall. When Iowa succeeds it is often because they have a talented running back in the backfield. Weisman may not be as high-profile as Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon or Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, but he should be expected to pile up some good yardage this season for Iowa.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Paul Hornung Award watch list led by 2013 finalist Myles Jack

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Watchlist season gets into its midseason-form this week with watch lists coming out on a daily basis. Monday got started with the release of the Paul Hornung Award watch list by the Louisville Sports Commission. A grand total of 47 players were named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which is awarded to the most versatile player in major college football and is named after Hornung, a Louisville native.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is the one finalist from last year’s award to appear on the watch list. In all, the list is composed of 22 seniors, 12 juniors and 13 sophomores from 43 different universities. Nebraska, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Duke each have two players listed on the watch list. The ACC and Big Ten lead the way with watch list players, with 10 each. The Pac-12 has seven players, the Big 12 has five and the SEC has just four players listed.

LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner.

Here is the entire watch list fr the 2014 season:

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Nelson Agholor, Southern California

Kenny Bell, Nebraska

V’Angelo Bentley, Illinois

Victor Bolden, Oregon State

Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

B.J. Catalon, TCU

Rashon Ceaser, Louisiana Monroe

Stacy Coley, Miami (FL)

James Conner, Pittsburgh

Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

Jamison Crowder, Duke

Stefon Diggs, Maryland

Chris Dunkley, South Florida

DeVon Edwards, Duke

D.J. Foster, Arizona State

Charles Gaines, Louisville

Rannell Hall, Central Florida

Scott Harding, Hawaii

Justin Hardy, East Carolina

Akeem Hunt, Purdue

Myles Jack, UCLA

Christion Jones, Alabama

Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State

Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

T.J. Logan, North Carolina

Venric Mark, Northwestern

Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa

J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State

Ty Montgomery, Stanford

Khalfani Muhammad, California

Marcus Murphy, Missouri

Jamarcus Nelson, UAB

Levi Norwood, Baylor

Ryan Switzer, North Carolina

Shaq Thompson, Washington

Antonio Vaughan, Old Dominion

Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield, Florida State

Carlos Wiggins, New Mexico

Kenny Williams, Texas Tech

Shane Williams-Rhodes, Boise St.

Myles Willis, Boston College

Dontre Wilson, Ohio State

Aaron Wimberly, Iowa St.

Shane Wynn, Indiana

The watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Maxwell Award will also be released today.

Iowa’s top WR cited for… disorderly house?

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Yep, it’s the offseason.

According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Kevonte Martin-Manley was, as a former teammate did in 2012cited for disorderly house early Saturday morning.  And, no the citation has nothing to do with empty pizza boxes and dirty clothes being strewn about the residence.

Instead, it stemmed from a party at the player’s home:

Martin-Manley, 21, was ticketed following a complaint of a loud party. Police were called to 760 Sunset Street in Iowa City. The report states there were “people inside and (outside) making a lot of noise and playing music.”

Last season, Martin-Manley led the Hawkeyes with 40 catches for 388 yards. His five touchdown receptions were second on the team.

Martin-Manley is the third Hawkeye player to have a run-in with police this month. Defensive lineman Dean Tsopanides was charged very late Saturday night with operating a vehicle while intoxicated while defensive back Nico Law was charged with disorderly conduct.  Shortly after his arrest, Iowa confirmed that Law was leaving the football program.

In a statement, the school wrote that “Coach [Kirk] Ferentz is aware of the charges brought against Dean and Kevonte. As further information is gathered, both student-athletes will proceed through the UI Student Athlete Code of Conduct and are subject to team rules and regulations too.”

Jeremy Hill pushes LSU past Iowa in Outback Bowl

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Iowa threatened, but couldn’t stop Jeremy Hill.

The LSU running back carried 28 times for 216 yards and and two touchdowns, including a 37-yard score late in the fourth quarter, to push the Tigers to a 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl Wednesday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.

Hill’s touchdown didn’t seal things for LSU, though, despite putting the Tigers up by 14 with just over two minutes left. That’s because Iowa’s Jordan Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to the LSU four, and after an official review overturned a C.J. Beathard fumble to an incomplete pass he hit Kevonte Martin-Manley for a touchdown.

LSU recovered the onside kick to seal a win that wound up being closer than it probably should’ve been. While LSU was without Zach Mettenberger, who tore his ACL in the Tigers’ regular season finale, its offensive and defensive lines dominated the line of scrimmage to the point where the Hawkeyes didn’t have much business being in this game.

As a team, Iowa rushed 37 times for 76 yards, an average of 2.1 yards per carry. Starter Jake Rudock was ineffective (9/22, 102 yards, 1 INT) before suffering an injury late in the third quarter. Beathard, a redshirt freshman, took over for the final 15 minutes and nearly brought the Hawkeyes back into the game — but he threw an interception in the red zone on a fourth-and-one play that likely doomed his team’s comeback chances.

Freshman Anthony Jennings started for LSU and completed seven of 19 passes for 82 yards with an interception.