Well, folks… Iowa football is officially back! Which means in t-minus one day, we will all be witnessing the black and gold take the field at Kinnick as they lineup against the Wyoming Cowboys.
With that said, let’s take a closer took at the Hawkeyes’ week one opponent so we have a better idea of what to expect come tomorrow.
Ground and Pound
Under the direction of head coach Craig Bohl, the Cowboys are a team that likes to show a variety of different formations on the offensive ball, whether it be traditional spread formations, two tight end sets, or lining up in the I-formation. With that said, at their core, the Cowboys are a team that relies heavily on the power-running game and the ability to run play action off of it.
This play is a great example of the kind of power-running the Cowboys like to implement: Here, the Cowboys are lined up in 11 personnel meaning three receivers, one tight end, and one running back in the formation.
Once the ball is snapped, it seems as though every Cowboy offensive lineman is able to successfully carry out their assignment by controlling the player lined up across from them. However, what truly makes this play a success is the center and the right guard pulling to the right once the ball is snapped to move the SAM and MIKE linebackers out of the running lane.
This kind of sound offensive line play is what allowed the Cowboys to be so successful in the run game last season, as they averaged an impressive 207 yards per game on the ground.
This season, the Cowboys will need to find a running back to fill the void left by star running back Brian Hill, who is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. According to reports, the Cowboys coaching staff has yet to decide on a lead back and will likely utilize a committee approach this Saturday.
Star Under Center
Now, I’m sure that most of you know who this section of the article is about given that the national attention swirling around junior quarterback Josh Allen is at an all-time high, and for good reason - he’s a very talented player.
Coming in at 6’4”, 233-pounds, Allen is an immensely talented quarterback with plus athleticism, impressive toughness, playmaking ability, and a rocket arm.
When you watch Allen play, it’s hard not to come away impressed with some of the throws he’s able to make because some of the passes he’s completed I’ve seen done by a very small sample of quarterbacks — college or professional.
There’s no questioning whether or not Allen is the key to the Cowboys’ success game in and game out because he is - as he goes, so does this team.
With that said, Allen does have a glaring weakness and it’s one that the Hawkeyes will most certainly want to take advantage of this Saturday. Allen possesses a dangerous habit of constantly throwing while off balance. Whether it be foolish throws across his body or throwing off his back foot, Allen really trusts his ability to sling it and at times, it can prove to be a serious detriment.
Potentially Susceptible On Defense
Last season, the defensive side of the ball is where the Cowboys struggled the most, as they gave up 453 yards per game and an even more staggering average of 34.1 points per game.
However, this season the Cowboys return arguably the best safety tandem in the Mountain West Conference in Marcus Epps (#6) and Andrew Wingard (#28), a talented linebacker in Luke Wilson (#30), and get back a lengthy, athletic pass rusher in sophomore Carl Granderson, who suffered a serious knee injury six games into last season.
With all that said, even with those players in the lineup, the Cowboys still have major question marks across the board and when you consider how many explosive plays this defense allowed last season, it could potentially end up being a very nice day for the likes of Akrum Wadley and James Butler.
An Early Test At Home
At this point in time, the arrow for the Wyoming football program is pointing up and with a talented program builder like Craig Bohl at the helm, the only thing you can really expect to see is more improvement.
Right now, the Hawkeyes are in the process of transitioning to a new signal caller and on top of that, they will be looking for answers in the secondary this Saturday, as they attempt to replace Brandon Snyder, Desmond King, Greg Mabin, and Manny Rugamba; that is an awfully tall task.
With all that said, I do think the Hawkeyes pull out a big first win at home. However, given what I’ve laid out here, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it’s a tight ball game from start to finish with an ending that comes down to the wire.