In preparation of the Big Ten’s return to the field, the B1G blogs got together and previewed our own teams. Each blog answered the same questions with the goal of informing the other B1G communities about what to watch for on the field.
My plan for these enemy previews is to share them in order of who Minnesota plays, with a summary of the remaining Big Ten teams at the end (since we don’t know who among the remaining East division teams we might see
on Championship Saturday during the #BigTenBonusRound).
Which enemy are we learning about this time?
To learn more about the Iowa Hawkeyes, we turn to Jonah Parker of Black Heart Gold Pants.
List your team’s key departures (name, position, role)
- Nate Stanley, QB
- Tristan Wirfs, OT
- AJ Epenesa, DE
- Geno Stone, S
- Michael Ojemudia, CB
- Kristian Welch, LB
- Djimon Colbert, LB (opt-out)
List your team’s key returnees (name, position, role)
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR and KR
- Brandon Smith, WR; Tyrone Tracy, WR
- Sam LaPorta, TE; Alaric Jackson, OT
- Tyler Linderbaum, C
- Tyler Goodson, RB
- Chauncey Golston, DE
- Daviyon Nixon, DT
- Matt Hankins, CB
- Dane Belton, S
- Nick Niemann, LB
List a few true freshmen or transfers that will make an instant impact (name, position, role)
- Coy Cronk, OT transfer from Indiana
- Jack Heflin, DT transfer from Northern Illinois
- Matt Lorbeck, DE transfer from Northern Illinois
- Elijah Yelverton, 4-star TE
- Luke Lachey, 3-star TE
Brief overview of 2020 team (a couple paragraphs about expectations, how you think they’ll perform):
This season has all the makings of a stress-induced heart attack for Iowa fans. The offense has more weapons than we’ve seen in a decade and an offensive line that should have at least two All-Big Ten players. But they’ll also be breaking in a new QB and the offense is run by a Ferentz.
On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa loses one of the best pass rushers they’ve had under Ferentz and lost at least one starter at each position. Iowa fans have blind faith when it comes to Phil Parker and the secondary, but finding a way to generate pressure upfront will be a question mark at least early on.
At the end of the day, this looks like your stereotypical 8-4/9-3 Iowa team that beats someone they shouldn’t and stubs their toe a time or maybe two. On an abbreviated 8-game schedule without the FCS and MAC matchups early on, that’s likely to translate to a 5-3/6-2 record depending on a few key matchups.
What’s your team’s biggest strength?
This is the best set of skill position players the Hawkeyes have had in over a decade. Ihmir Smith-Marsette is a game breaker in all facets (as he proved against USC in the Holiday Bowl) while Brandon Smith is a prototypical possession receiver and Tyrone Tracy is somewhere in between. The Hawkeyes bring back ALL receiving options from a year ago but add in a pair of highly-touted freshmen TEs to add to the mix. Add to that year two of the Tyler Goodson experience and first-year starter Spencer Petras has all the weapons a young QB could hope to have in an Iowa offense.
What’s your team’s biggest weakness?
The biggest question mark entering the year is where the edge pressure will come from. AJ Epenesa was a disruptive force but needs replaced. Chauncey Golston has played alongside Epenesa for two seasons and had success, but now he’ll need to elevate his game if Iowa wants to have a top tier defense again in 2020.
How does your fanbase feel about your coach and his staff?
In general, the fanbase is OK with Kirk Ferentz and his staff, though certainly not enthused. The offseason drama surrounding racial inequality within the strength program caught many fans off guard given the strong relationship between Ferentz and Chris Doyle and the foundation which the program has been built upon. However, all signs have pointed to the surfacing of the issues as being a very good thing for the direction of the program with players feeling more included, closer together, and ready to move forward as one unit.
Who is your team’s MVP this season and why?
This team is likely to live and die by Spencer Petras. As noted, the line and the weapons are there. If he delivers, this will be a good team that competes for the division title. If he falters, the season is likely to head south and there won’t be an MVP worth talking about.
Predict your team’s record, its best win, and a potential surprise loss
- Prediction: 6-2
- Best Win: Wisconsin
- Surprise Loss: Purdue
Thanks to Jonah for helping out!
Based on what you read above, how much does Iowa worry you?
This poll is closed
WE HATE IOWA! Oh, I’m sorry, you asked a different question didn’t you?