There are just under three months until Christmas, and it’s almost time to start looking toward the holiday season and sending Santa your wish list. You might want an Apple TV. You might want a car. You might want rollerblades. I don’t know. That’s your prerogative.
Considering the current state of the Iowa football team, all of the items on my wish list this Christmas are Hawkeye-related. Obviously, I’d love for Iowa to win the rest of their regular season games by 50 points, beat an undefeated Ohio State team in the B1G Championship Game, and earn a College Football Playoff berth by Christmas time. I’m sure you want that, too.
My Christmas list is reserved for wishes that are both realistic and attainable, and the only ones who can make sure everything I want makes its way under the tree by Christmas morning are Kirk Ferentz and his little elves. I’m still hopeful that the Hawkeyes will be having themselves a merry little Christmas in Pasadena. After all, the world needs Kirk Ferentz in a Santa hat at football practice in California.
Here’s what is on my Christmas list for the remainder of this Hawkeye football season.
Bring back the gunslinger
Is it me, or has C.J. Beathard suddenly become gun-shy in the last two games? Coming out of the Iowa State game, I was willing to tell anyone and everyone that CJB was up there with the best quarterbacks in college football. I know Iowa State is miserable, but this throw? Come on.
Where have you gone C.J. Beathard? Hawkeye Nation turns its lowly eyes to you.
Iowa is only going as far as Beathard takes them this season. This team doesn’t have the receiving corps for C.J. to be conservative in the pocket. He needs to make things happen. If that means forcing a few throws to try to make a play, then so be it. But hey, maybe somebody could step up to help him out...
One more receiving threat
Iowa NEEDS another target for Beathard.
I wrote that before we received the unfortunate news that Hawkeye fan favorite Matt VandeBerg will miss significant time with a foot injury. I love Matt VandeBerg. Seriously, how could you not love a guy who goes across the middle and makes catch after catch, knowing that he is going to get lit up by a linebacker every time? I really hope the B1G rules in favor of his medical hardship. He’s been too great of a Hawkeye to have his career end like this. Get well soon, Meercat.
That being said, now Iowa NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS another target for Beathard. I love George Skittles, but he can’t do this alone. I’m wishing for Santa to steal Odell Beckham’s powers and inject them into Jay Scheel, Jerminic Smith, Ronald Nash, or Devonte Young for the final 8 regular reason games.
Health on the offensive line
We saw what Iowa looked like when center James Daniels and left guard Sean Welsh missed time against North Dakota State. The fact of the matter is that this offensive line just doesn’t have enough depth to withstand any long-term injuries.
1K for LeShun
I know LeShun Daniels has battled some injuries through his college career, but I still can’t quite believe that he has yet to post a 1,000-yard rushing season. When you watch him run, Daniels looks the part of a running back who can carry a big workload. He has posted 301 rushing yards through the first four games, putting him on pace for just over 900 yards for the 12 game regular season. Assuming this team will make a bowl game, he should have a shot at reaching that coveted 1,000 yard mark. He seems like a quality kid. I hope he reaches that milestone. It’s good for him and the Hawkeyes if he does.
Experiment at Linebacker
Josey Jewell is forming his legacy as one of the great Hawkeye linebackers, and I think Ben Niemann is solid as well. While I love Bo Bower’s story (he was a walk-on), I’m not sure he is the answer at WLB. Before departing to become the defensive coordinator at Boston College, former Hawkeye linebacker coach Jim Reid indicated that Aaron Mends could be the next great Iowa linebacker. Mends is supposed to be crazy strong and crazy fast, but we haven’t seen much of him this season. The Hawkeyes are struggling with a lackluster rushing defense, largely due to opponents spreading out the linebacking corps. Mends may have speed and strength that Bo Bower simply cannot offer. With the current state of the rushing defense, I think it is at least worth experimenting with the players that Iowa currently has on their bench.
Albert the Bull
I really, really, really, really, really, really want Iowa to win their October 22nd matchup with Wisconsin. This is always the game that I look forward to the most each season, largely because I am jealous of what Wisconsin has been able to achieve. The Badgers have taken advantage of their opportunities to advance their brand, and they’ve gained national recognition because of it. With the polls and the national media currently gushing over Wisconsin, I would love nothing more than for Iowa to pull-off what will almost certainly be an upset victory over their B1G West rival. Please, Hawks. Keep Albert the Bull in Iowa City.
Get the swagger back
Despite the fact Iowa played a relatively easy schedule in 2015, there was a feeling around that team that made you feel like every game was under control. You felt that if Iowa needed to drive down the field and score a touchdown, they would do it. If Iowa needed a stop on defense, they would get it. If Iowa needed a 57-yard field goal to win as time expired, they would make it. Last year’s team had a certain swagger about them that we haven’t seen so far this season. It was that “We are going to take this ball and we are going to go down and score, and there is nothing you or anyone else is going to do to stop it.” I’d like to see the Hawkeyes redevelop the attitude that allowed them to have a perfect regular season, find their way into the top 5 in the rankings in December, and provide us totally awesome pictures like this one.
Just one more reason to love George Skittles.
All I Want for Christmas is Two
If I get everything I wanted for Christmas, Iowa should be headed to their 2nd consecutive B1G Championship Game. This was my hope for the Hawkeye football team at the beginning of the season, and it remains my hope today. I think this team has the pieces to get back to Indianapolis to compete for the B1G title. For whatever reason, they haven’t meshed after the first four games of the season. Some Iowa teams don’t hit their stride until game five or six. That could be the case with this unit. I’m not sure this Iowa squad can hang with Michigan or Ohio State, but maybe the stars will align. At the very least, maybe we’ll get one more moment like this one.
Can the Hawkeyes bring me everything on my list this Christmas? Time will tell.