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A PESSIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE IOWA FOOTBALL SEASON

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EXISTENCE IS PAIN AND SO IS IOWA FOOTBALL.

The 102nd Rose Bowl Game - Iowa v Stanford
WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Yesterday you were exposed to the idea that Iowa could in fact be good this season. We apologize for introducing that line of thinking upon you.

Alright. I’m about halfway finished with my nightly pint of warm gin. Here we go.*

If you’re reading this, you’re probably an Iowa fan. And that makes my job easier. You’re not just used to disappointment, you damn well expect it.

So tell me, why should this football season provide any sort of respite for the Saturday’s full of gutpunches that we’ve learned to embrace? Spoiler alert: it won’t be any different to the cataclysmic football campaigns of past.

I’ll start with the easy part: you and I have as many catches as 95 percent of the Iowa receiving corps combined. That number is zero. Matt VandeBerg is the only receiver on the roster with a career catch, and as far as we can tell he’s working with one good foot right now.

You know who’s got more catches than the Iowa receiving corps sans Meerkat? Josh Allen. That’s right, the NFL-bound quarterback Iowa plays in its first game of the season, had one catch for four yards and a touchdown in a 42-34 win over Nevada last year. If he was on Iowa, you bet your ass Kirk would beef him up to 250 lbs to play tight end or send him over to Phil Parker to play safety. We are talking about a QB recruit here, after all.

When Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barta sat down in the cafeteria of the Hy-Vee on Burlington seven years ago to draft this cupcake of a non-con schedule, they thought they would be sneaking in a win over a team with a much more successful NFL-counterpart as a mascot.

Noooooooope. A real coach is in Laramie now and he got himself one of the best arms in the whole damn nation. Iowa, meanwhile, can’t figure out who its own quarterback is gonna be after having a calendar year to solve that riddle.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter who Iowa trots out at QB, because he’s going to be running more than throwing. Despite Iowa having a history of putting out historically great offensive lines, I often find myself wondering if Iowa’s big uglies could even stop a freshman with a fake ID from getting into Brothers on mug night.

bUt iOWa HaD tWo 1,0o0-YaRD ruSheRs lAST YeAR!

And the addition of James Butler makes for two 1,000-yard backs on the roster! You know what two 1,000-yard runners got us last year? Eight wins. Iowa may as well be running the triple-option with this prehistoric offense.

“But Ben, you cantankerous doof,” you’re saying to yourself. “Greg Davis is gone this year, and a new young offensive coordinator in Brian Ferentz is taking his place!”

We’ve seen what happens when a Ferentz gets involved in an offense. It’s not pretty and usually requires the opponent to make a fatal mistake, and for Iowa to capitalize on that mistake. While this is a sound strategy for dating apps and presidential elections, it’s no way to run a college football offense.

Bill Belichick plays chess at a grandmaster level. Andy Reid plays checkers about as well as you can until you graduate to chess. Kirk Ferentz is playing Settlers of Catan, and he’s hoarding sheep. Kirk Ferentz buys war bonds in the age of bitcoin. As far as he knows, there’s still only one Korea.

And that defense. Man. Iowa is playing six defensive ends in its front-seven as far as I’m concerned. Phil Parker may as well make the Raider package his base defense because Iowa’s standard 4-3 can get to the ball about as quickly as Don Draper to an AA meeting.

The last time Iowa had three NFL-caliber linebackers, it went 8-5. You seeing a pattern yet?

And then there’s this secondary. Its best cornerback can’t even stay out of the doghouse in his first full summer in Iowa City. Good thing we’re not playing a quarterback with a million-dollar arm the first week of the season or anything!

And that’s not even the worst of it. Iowa’s most experienced DB tore his ACL back in May, so we’re trotting out four guys with a combined 11 starts (Miles Taylor has 10 of those). What could go wrong?

If you think I forgot about the punting game, you’re nuts. Another Ron Coluzzi isn’t walking through that door and you bet your sweet bippy he was Iowa’s MVP last year. Does Iowa beat Michigan without Ron’s gymnastics? Nooooooope.

The fact Iowa hasn’t settled on a fourth-down quarterback is probably more troubling than its indecision at regular QB.

I would love to sit here and wax poetic and say if Iowa could get through the absolute buzzsaw that is Wyoming-Iowa State-North Texas to start its season then it may have another shot at 12-0, but then you’d have to recall Penn State is coming to town week four, and there’s multiple Heisman candidates on that team. I don’t need to remind you of the Red Wedding-esque destruction that took place in Unhappy Valley last season.

Good thing Penn State is the only real tough cross-division foe Iowa sees this year...

Oh yeah.

Even if Iowa can squeak past Penn State and Ohio State, it still has to face Wisconsin, which has a nine-fingered tight end who would probably start at receiver for this team.

It’s going to be a long season. I hope you bought your barrel of Jack Daniels from Costco when you still had the chance.

*Disclaimer: I am a moron. Please don’t interpret any of the above as more than satire.