Just four days stand between now and the start of Iowa football season, and since the two-deeps were released last week, there has been speculation over who’s going to see playing time where, which freshman will see the field and what’s going on with the quarterback/kicking situation.
Kirk Ferentz addressed those questions and more in his presser leading up to Miami, and he also took the opportunity to dwell on an Iowa team from 10 years ago, surprisingly.
There were questions over who C.J. Beathard might be throwing to this season, and when Jay Scheel appeared in front of Jerminic Smith—with Riley McCarron earning a starting role—on the depth chart, we got a look at who might be catching the ball this year:
But I think we've made good strides. Matt VandeBerg has been a good player for us for a long time. If you talk about improved players, Riley McCarron really did a nice job for us on a lot of levels last year, but I think we've really seen him take a big step. I think he was a better player in the spring than he was last fall, and certainly he's taken another step forward, so he's really done a good job against some really good players out there in camp, and that's encouraging.
Jay Scheel is making progress, and I think the rest of the younger guys are stepping forward, too, but how ready we are I think we'll find out Saturday, but I think we're making progress there.
I like the idea of C.J. building a rapport with a young guy like Scheel, while still having guys like VandeBerg and George Kittle around as a security blanket. And if McCarron really has improved that much, all the better, though I am a little skeptical.
Eight freshman on the two-deeps was talked about on the interwebs. A lot. So reporters did their jobs and asked Kirk how that came to be, and how many will actually see playing time on Saturday. That answer probably hinges on whether Iowa is up 50 points at half, or just 30:
How they're going to play Saturday or beyond, who knows. How many will play Saturday or beyond, who knows that, either. But I think it's fair to say we'll have a bigger number than normal. Based on what we've seen in practice, we're really optimistic they'll play well, and we're going to need that to have a good football team.
One of those true freshman could be quarterback Nathan Stanley, who currently has a weird and/or thing going on with Tyler Wiegers:
We haven't made that decision yet. It's kind of like any of those slashes right now, those are both basically coin tosses at this point.
The last time Iowa and Miami squared off, Ben Roethlisberger was quarterbacking the Redhawks, while Iowa had Nathan Chandler under center. The year before that, Brad Banks was slinging for the Hawkeyes when they squared off against Roethlisberger. And that’s when Kirk opened up the history book.
It really was. I'll go back to the year before, and you remember that just as well. We were lucky to get out of there with a victory. It was really -- that was a tough day. I think their quarterback threw about 70 passes and I think 60 of them went to the right side that day if I recall right, and we had to really fight, and I remember Brad Banks making a great completion down the middle that really kind of ignited us.
As it turns out, that was a really good football team. Both those years they were really good. That was a big win certainly, and what their quarterback went on and has done is really impressive. Yeah, it was a good effort on all parts for us.
Roethlisberger did in fact sling it a lot—51 times! In that game in 2002. Let’s just look at that box score for fun:
People have always been knocking the fact Iowa doesn’t play some foe from the SEC or
Big 12 in a glitzy game to kick off a season, and yeah well it’s not our fault Iowa State is Iowa State.
Someone brought that up to Kirk, and I can’t really argue with his answer:
You know, we've got 12 games scheduled. We play in a really good conference. My guess is we're going to -- every one of the 12 games will be challenging. Just look back last year, we were relaxed in one game in the fourth quarter a little bit, but after that it's college football. So to count on games like that, that's still iffy, if you think those are going to happen. If they happen, great, but you'd better expect a real battle, and I think you just have to look historically, it's kind of the nature of football as you look around.
You know, we'll get plenty of excitement all season long. Hopefully we'll be ready to go Saturday.
Ferentz is right here. Iowa already has its hands full with a schedule that includes Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and the conference championship, and locking in Iowa State every year doesn’t lend much in the way of flexibility. Teams still need to play tune-up games (and I’ll argue all day that NDSU is better than around 50 percent of mid-majors) so I’m pretty sick of hearing about schedules, and he probably is too.