By Adam Hensley
Tim Polasek hasn’t been with the Iowa football program for two months yet, but he’s creating an immediate impact.
“When he first got hired, I went into his office and talked for him for 10 to 15 minutes, and after that meeting, I knew what kind of coach he was,” offensive lineman James Daniels said. “I knew what he was about. So right when I first met Coach Polasek, I knew I was going to be comfortable.”
Polasek led a dominant offensive unit at North Dakota State, a Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse.
A powerful ground attack led the Bison charge in 2016. The rushing attack racked up 240.9 yards per game, 11th best in the subdivision.
Including this past season, the past four years featured a top-13 rushing attack. In 2013, the Bison commanded the seventh-best ground game when it came to yards per game.
But as Polasek said in his press conference on April 5, he’s not a numbers guy.
Traditionally a team that feasts on its running game, Iowa seems like an ideal fit; Polasek tabbed his limited time with the team as “phenomenal.”
“The culture that’s within that group that I think has been established a long time ago and who we are from a — not necessarily it’s got to be a run-first offense, but we are going to run the football, they go about their business pretty good,” he said.
In last season’s matchup between the two teams, the Bison wore down the Hawkeye defense, rushing for 239 yards and a touchdown and won the time of possession battle by 13 minutes and 20 seconds.
Polasek’s ideology goes along well with that of head coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.
Iowa’s blocking scheme revolves around getting the backside knee into the defender, something Polasek didn’t engage in frequently at North Dakota State; however, he said, he actually studied that scheme almost a year and a half ago.
“I’ve really come to enjoy it, and really, it’s a foundation that I think I’m going to have a hard time getting away from,” Polasek said.
The key for the players, as well as the coaches, is getting the terminology down in an effort to stay on the same page.
“Brian, he coaches something a certain way, and Coach [Kirk] Ferentz, he coaches something a certain way, and Coach Polasek, he coaches something a certain way, too,” Daniels said.
Daniels said he values this opportunity to learn under “three mastermind coaches together.”
Polasek’s style of coaching doesn’t just translate into physical blocking. His players strive to emulate his leadership skills on and off the field, especially as spring practice picks up and slowly blossoms into summer and fall work.
The Hawkeyes have an unproven quarterback under center (whichever way they decide to go), questions at receiver, and holes in the secondary to fill following safety Brandon Snyder’s season-ending ACL tear.
On the flip side, Iowa’s offensive line enters the season as one of the most experienced position groups on the team.
“I think our [group] needs to lead,” senior lineman Ike Boettger said. “We’ve got the most veteran guys right now, especially with Matt Vandeberg still out with injury. Guys are stepping up, and it’s just been fun to watch.”