Opponent: Illinois State Redbirds (0-0, #2 FCS preseason)
Saturday, September 5, 11 a.m., Kinnick Stadium
Television: Big Ten Network
Kickoff weather: 84 degrees, clear, with temperatures approaching 90.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Man, it's a hot one. Like seven inches from the midday sun.
WHEN ILLINOIS STATE HAS THE BALL
Illinois State returns senior quarterback Tre Roberson for one final shot at an FCS crown, one the Redbirds were achingly close to after Roberson scored a go-ahead touchdown with just 1:38 left in their championship game against NDSU. You all know how that ended, but the scary proposition is that the Redbird offense may be even more dangerous this season.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Illinois State shocked people when they picked up a Big Ten starting quarterback in Tre Roberson, just like I shocked people when I picked up what some of my FORMER bandmates called a "Latin phase." Buddy, this is real life. You think Spanish Harlem, you think Rob Thomas.
Roberson's partner in crime is tailback Marshaun Coprich, the returning FCS rushing leader and Walter Payton Award winner. Coprich ran for nearly 2,300 yards and 27 touchdowns in last year's campaign, and although he drew the ire of coach Brock Spack for an offseason arrest for selling marijuana to an undercover cop—bad choice—he's set to start Week 1. His highlight reel shows an impressive mix of balance and burst, and he's got a huge stride in the open field for someone who's listed at 5'9" (which looks, um, generous).
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": It's great that Coprich won that award. "Smooth" by Carlos Santana featuring me, Rob Thomas, won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 2000. I don't know why "Smooth" is not eligible for another Grammy. It's not about a year, it's about a musical revolution, right here in Spanish Harlem.
Still, the Redbirds must replace 11 starters from last year's dream team, including three offensive linemen, so if Iowa's front four can take advantage of some inexperience up front its job should be easier. That said, if you looked at the highlights linked above, the first five minutes are nothing but pass protection from Coprich, and his pre-snap blitz recognition and eagerness to initiate contact are surprisingly great. In other words, just sending Ben Niemann off the edge is hardly an automatic pressure on Roberson. And if an Illinois State blocker wins at the point of attack, Coprich's open-field vision can equal big yards in a hurry.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Again with the Coprich highlights? Sorry pal, but there's only one "highlight reel" I respect, and it's this:
WHEN IOWA HAS THE BALL
The C.J. Beathard era has finally, unmistakably begun, with Jake Rudock jettisoned to the wastelands of Ann Arbor and Beathard given two years of the reins of the Iowa offense. His improvement has been front and center through the offseason, and if that actually bears out in the on-field results, Iowa could take advantage of a less-than-stellar Redbird secondary.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": It's like when Beathard was a backup he said, "this life ain't good enough," and Ferentz gave his starting quarterback—some would say his world—to lift him up the depth chart. Kirk changed his life to better suit Beathard's mood, because he's so smoooooth.
Illinois State's strength is in its front seven, including two returning first team All-MVFC players in LB Pat Meehan and DE David Perkins. Old friend Reggie Spearman (yep!) is also in the mix at OLB. So Iowa can't afford another lackluster start for its rushing attack, like last season's non-conference slate where it averaged just over 130 yards per game against the likes of UNI, Ball State, ISU and Pitt. The Redbirds might be more talented than those four teams, and Iowa's offensive line has a whole lot to prove when it comes to springing LeShun Daniels and the ground game.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": I'm a big fan of LeShun. He's got the kind of running that can be so smooth, yehh. Give me your heart, make it real, or else forget about it.
Wait, huh? Who has to give whose heart here? And why do you pronounce "yeah" like that?
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": That's just how we do it in Spanish Harlem.
That can't be right.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Yehh.
Anyway, as mentioned before, Iowa's ability to move the ball downfield in the passing game will likely be crucial to keeping the chains moving. It should be noted, though, that in addition to Corwin at DE, the Redbirds also have former Ohio State Buckeye David Perkins on the other edge, and with the Hawkeye troubles at offensive tackle, these two rushers could disrupt Iowa's offensive rhythm.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Out from the barrio, you hear my rhythm on the radio. You know, in Spanish Harlem.
Illinois State lost its kicker, punter and return specialists to graduation, while Iowa returns kicker Marshall Koehn and punter Dillon Kidd (who beat Koehn out in an offseason battle for the starting job) and will try defensive dynamo Desmond King out as the primary return man.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Special teams? Some say the most special team in pop music history was Carlos Santana and me, Rob Thomas, in the hit pop smash "Smooth." Here I am in the music video for "Smooth."
Damn, Rob Thomas, that segue was... smooth.
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Awwww, let's don't forget about it.
Iowa 27, Illinois State 21
Rob Thomas from the music video for "Smooth": Well I'll tell you one thing. If you would lose it'd be a crying shame. Iowa by 17. Shout out to Spanish Harlem.
Rob Thomas is a platinum recording artist who recently released his third solo album "The Great Unknown." He will be at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on November 2. BHGP might have to go if he promises to perform "Smooth." He may not have actually written any of the previous post for BHGP.