Posted by: marcmwm | November 7, 2008

Still trying to catch on

Hawkeye wide receivers still trying to catch on

Hawkeye wide receivers still trying to catch on

By Marc Morehouse

(Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos escapes the tackle of Florida International wide punter Dustin Rivest during a Sept. 6 game in Iowa City. Johnson-Koulianos and Iowa’s other young wide receivers are struggling to put up numbers.

IOWA CITY — In September, it looked as if Derrell Johnson-Koulianos’ career was cleared for takeoff.

Against Pittsburgh, he caught six passes for 75 yards. The next week, he had five for 55 against Northwestern. In the four games since, Johnson-Koulianos has seven catches for 57 yards.

In a two-week stretch, he had two for 6 yards at Michigan State and was shut out at Indiana.

“He’s got a learning curve,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Just like Andy Brodell did, a lot of guys. He’s improving. I think he’s improving.”

Johnson-Koulianos is hardly the problem for Iowa’s wide receiver corps. Yes, the sophomore’s number hasn’t been called a lot lately, but his season stats actually stand out in the group.

Iowa’s wide receiver productivity begins with Brodell (27 catches for 454 yards and four TDs) and pretty much ends with Johnson-Koulianos (25 for 325 and 1 TD).

Junior Trey Stross is next with eight catches for 68 yards.

After missing three games with a hamstring injury, he’s seeing more action but still averages just 8.5 yards a catch.

Since catching two TD passes against Florida International, Colin Sandeman has three catches for 20 yards, leaving him with six for 76 yards.

After Sandeman, true freshman DeMarco Paine hasn’t been heard from since Florida International, Paul Chaney hasn’t recorded a reception since the opener, and Marvin McNutt is just getting his feet wet at the position with one catch since moving from QB.

Ferentz listed Iowa’s top four receivers as Brodell, Johnson-Koulianos, Stross and Sandeman.

“We have confidence in all those guys,” he said. “We (also) have confidence in our tight ends.”

Tight ends Brandon Myers and Allen Reisner are getting their touches.

Myers is the Hawkeyes’ third-leading receiver with 22 catches. Reisner has 11 catches, with three for 36 yards last week and a clutch grab on a two-point conversion that tied the game.

When healthy, Tony Moeaki has been productive (seven catches for 74 yards).

“I think all three of those guys do a real good job in the pass game,” Ferentz said. “We think our receivers are OK, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with that group.”

Paine’s case seems especially confounding. He burned a red-shirt, but has only three catches for 16 yards. He hasn’t recorded a stat since week 2. Ferentz didn’t offer much insight.

“Yeah, he’s just not playing a prominent role right now.”

Still, everything hasn’t exactly been rosy for Johnson-Koulianos.

He did lose his starting job to Stross based on practice performance.

Also, he was banned from Tuesday news conferences after showing up and conducting interviews in a baseball hat and sunglasses in September.

“Working on his dress code,” Ferentz said. “That’s really not what we’re looking for.”

Johnson-Koulianos is allowed to speak after games. And, for the record, he’s one of the team’s sharper dressers.



  1. Hpoefully today the receivers can realize where the first down marker is and run their routes accordingly. I counted at least three instances on 3rd downs last week where they cut there route off 1-2 yards short of the first down.

  2. Unfortunately, MF, that is by design.

    But as far as receivers go, maybe Iowa recruit/commit Keenan Davis will contribute next year as a true frosh. I heard he had 15 snags for 220 yards last night VS Bettondorf in the playoffs. I know it’s only highschool, but…..I’m just sayin’.

    Go Hawks!

  3. i must give the receivers this credit-we aren’t seeing the “rip-out-your-hair” dropped passes that were getting out of control the last two years. I was wondering though what had happened to DJK this year so thanks for the article. Didn’t he have a great one-handed catch last year for a score or on a deep ball? Seemed like he was poised for a breakout year. Too bad.

  4. MF, you’d think that’d be elementary. But you see it every week somewhere on TV football. It’s not just Iowa.

    Paul — Davis lit it up last night. I was going to go to that game, but I’m wimpy. I’ll float this out there, I’m not sure free safety isn’t Davis’ best position. He covers a lot of ground and has great ball skills. Just an idea.

    Scott — Great point on the drops. They had a few last week, but it’s been a way cleaner year in that regard. Yeah, the Wisconsin game. That catch was the best by an Iowa wideout not named Ed Hinkel in the last 10 years. Three more games, DJK can still have a heckuva an impact.

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