Will Iowa football take steps forward in 2014? As a die hard fan I really hope so. I have supported this program since I could talk and hold meaningful conversations. I have had this coaching staff’s back in every conversation I have had with frustrated Hawkeye fans.
BUT, as I sat silently watching a lethargic Outback Bowl, I begin to wonder why I am always an optimist when it comes to Hawkeye football? With my fellow diehards surrounding me conversing about how we played in the bowl game and what we have coming back, and their optimism for 2014, I started to wonder why as Hawkeye fans are we like this? What gives us any notion that 2104 will be any better? Will this team be any better than what was put on the field in 2013? As I begin to brainstorm possible outcomes of next season I got this sick feeling in my stomach and finally came to the conclusion that I don’t know if I can handle watching another 7-5 or 5-7 season from this program.
As I sat in Camp Randal on a rainy, unusually warm November night in 2005, watching my Hawkeyes out play the Badgers in a 20-10 victory, in a game where 16 year head coach Barry Alvarez’ would coach his last game in Camp Randall, I would have thought in the near future it would be my Hawkeye’s playing 3 consecutive Rose Bowls, not Wisconsin. We have watched Wisconsin pass us by and they have had two coaching changes since 2006. Now granted one of those Rose Bowls was gift wrapped to Wisconsin thanks in part to Ohio State’s and Penn State’s lack of institutional control. But the point remains, they were still there. Why do I bring this up? Because I continually hear how hard it is to win at Iowa. The battle Iowa’s staff faces when on the recruiting trail. I simply do not understand how it could be any easier to recruit and win in Wisconsin or say Nebraska. It is a lame excuse media writer’s and fans come up with to fathom meritocracy.
All of these thoughts bring me to the big question? Will our Hawkeyes be better next season?
How are the players on this current roster or even new players coming in, going to solve the problems that handcuff this team and the current state it’s in? We have witnessed the lack of play makers on the offensive side of the ball. How could we feel any better about our future when current players lack the skills that are un-teachable, speed and athleticism? Receiver’s can know the routes and offense better than the coaches, but when you lack natural athleticism and speed, how can they create space and make plays. Not only is there no receiver with this ability on our current roster, there is not one single commitment from any wide out in our incoming class. So how is that issue going to be solved?
Our running game is what we hang our hat on. Its Iowa football, bullies of the Big Ten! Yes, we ran the ball at times, but mostly against teams that were terrible to begin with. We couldn’t run the ball when it mattered and some of that issue was because of teams stacking the box because they knew we couldn’t beat them on the edges. Play after play, we ran plays that limited our running backs ability’s. Our backfield will look the same as last year, our offensive line will lose two key contributors, so how can we think our running game will be better than 2013?
Our offensive coordinator claims that we struggle because we lack exactly what I stated above. But he continues to run the offense the same from the first day he stepped on campus, even though he admits the lack of speed and playmakers. Has he adjusted to what he has to work with? After two years of watching this offense, I don’t think he has. He can give us excuses until he’s blue in the face, but the fact is the skills of our skilled position players aren’t changing anytime soon. So what needs to be adjusted to accommodate what we do have, a bunch of un-proven, non-athletic players in skilled positions? His offense and play calling shows he continues to call the offense like he has this capability even though he has admitted to not having that resource.
I truly hope I’m wrong, and my Hawkeye’s go on to surprise me. But at this point, can any fan with real knowledge and a level head believe that what hinders this team can and will be solved in the off-season with the current players coming back?