1. The guys we could count on to look good, mostly looked very good. C.J. Beathard looks way better than the last time we saw him at Valley and sparkled during 7-on-7s. Tevaun Smith is the easy number one wideout and if he's the focal point of the passing game, no complaints here. On defense, Desmond King looked as hungry as his freshman year; he's poised for greatness.
2. I've learned better than to second-guess Kirk Ferentz's personnel decisions at quarterback. Generally, when a QB gets replaced, it's for good reason, and the only QB personnel decisions I think Ferentz didn't manage correctly would be 1) not redshirting Drew Tate in 2003 and 2) giving James Vandenberg literally every snap in 2012. The Beutjer stuff, you can't fault Ferentz for foreseeing, and 2001 Brad Banks was certainly not 2002 Brad Banks. Maybe Ferentz waited too long on benching Jake Christensen, but Ferentz is as sensitive to Type I errors as any coach in the Big Ten.
All of which is to say, the faith in Beathard is there. The safety net just bounced to Ann Arbor, and it's probably the case that they need that base level of reliable performance more than Iowa does. But man... Beathard had better stay healthy, because it's him or agony. The positive data points for Tyler Wiegers remain a null set, and the backups remain him and two incoming true freshmen. Good luck.
3. Who's the bell cow on the offensive line? I guess it's Austin Blythe, but if the tackles are Boone Myers and Ike Boettger, that's two zero-start* guys bookending a pair of guards who were noticeable liabilities in run blocking last year. Jordan Walsh looked fine but only fine on Saturday, and Iowa fans are left to hoping Sean Welsh takes care of whatever the hell he needs to do.
4. I have no idea who Iowa's starting tailback will be or should be. LeShun Daniels showed flashes, but we've heard that before—and he also got trucked by King on a 3rd-and-short drill. Akrum Wadley navigated inside runs rather ably. You hope Jordan Canzeri can shoulder the load, but that's like asking Stephen Strasburg to throw 200 innings in a year, and Canzeri isn't exactly the Strasburg of tailbacks. C.J. Hilliard was totally forgettable. Derrick Mitchell wasn't much better, but he's still transitioning to RB. Marcel Joly perked my ears up a couple times, but one was when Vint said he's from Montréal (Joly is Haitian, PATRICK). With Jonathan Parker (rightly) shuttled off to wideout, I don't know what the answer is at tailback.
That's not to say this situation is bleak, of course. When Canzeri is healthy he can blaze, and he's shown it. Mitchell should be an effective option by fall if the coaches are worth their pay. If Wadley doesn't keep fumbling, he'll be awfully hard to keep off the field. And for all we know, Daniels has 1,500 yards in him come fall. But I can't call this one.
5. This quote haunts me. Via Chad Leistikow from HawkCentral.com:
A notable takeaway overall Saturday was Iowa's lack of depth, and the head coach agreed — particularly on the offensive line. "We don't have a lot of depth on the 2s," Ferentz said. "A lot of our 2s right now are 3s, quite frankly, on both sides of the ball."
I mean, that's not out of context. Iowa doesn't have the stable of talent pushing its starters that its best teams usually had, and with all the departures to the NFL, it doesn't have a particularly great set of starters to begin with. Iowa's #1-#22 aren't that much worse than Michigan State or Wisconsin or Nebraska's #1-#22. The #23-#44 players? #45-#66? That's where a 60-minute game starts to come into play, and Iowa's top 22 guys aren't that much better than those of any of the Big Ten's plus-.500 teams that a lack of depth would stop coming into play.
So if the depth is lacking... where's Iowa making that ground up against its Big Ten peers?
*Yes, Boettger started as a second tight end against Wisconsin. All right.
That's what I thought; what'd you think?