Every Saturday, as I slide on my Herky Socks and my lucky Under Armour shorts, I day dream about the great things the Hawkeyes will bring to my life that day. Surely, it will be great things. Great, beautiful things that will continue to build upon themselves on their way to the Big Ten Championship.
After all, the road to Indy leads through each and every door in Iowa City:
It’s really hard for me to consider the bad; especially so during the preseason. If you, dear reader, and I met at a bar and we eventually started talking about Iowa or the Bears over a Yuengling and a shot of Jameson, you’d eventually get a long sales pitch as to why both Nate Stanley and Mitch Trubisky are on the verge of delivering two of the best quarterback seasons we’ve ever seen.
I am an optimist.
Managing Editor, Ben Ross, is not. He is very much a pessimist. Not so much as GospelofMax, but a pessimist nonetheless.
Well, this year, for our Optimist/Pessimist guide, we thought we should swap roles. So, instead of putting on my Herky Socks and staring into the college football abyss and wondering about the exciting things to come, I’m going to sip on a “pint of warm gin,” put on my best/fake Minnesota accent and tell ya all abooooot the duck, duck, gray duck foooootball campaign that lies ahead, dontcha know.
So, where to begin.
Ah, of course:
What is Iowa going to possibly do defensively without Red Beard (or, the artist formerly known as The Outlaw), Bo “Kiki do you love me” Bower, Ben Niemann AND Josh Jackson? The four of them combined for 347 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, five forced fumbles and two touchdowns.
You can speculate all you want. You can tell me that Amani Jones, Kristian Welch and Nick Niemann are going to be a strong collective unit that will be asked to “do their job” behind a deep defensive line until you’re blue in the face. You can beat your chest for Michael Ojemudia being the next Phil Parker disciple that turns into an All-Big Ten cornerback. But let’s face the facts, you don’t know that because there hasn’t been one single previous start between the listed starters at linebacker and, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ojemudia have the starting job going into week one, lost it to Manny Rugamba, win the job back and then lose it again to Rugamba and Matt Hankins for the remainder of the season? Are we really betting on THAT guy?
Look, Jones very well may end this season as a solid as hell linebacker that the coaching staff feels confident leaning on in 2019. But he’s not going to be Josey Jewell. Could you imagine what the 8-5 Iowa Hawkeyes would have been last year without him?
Probably worse than 8-5!
Can you imagine what they would’ve been without Jewell and Jackson?
Probably worse than 8-5!
Can you imagine what they would’ve been without Jewell and Jackson and Bower and Niemann?
PROBABLY WORSE THAN 8-5!!!!
If Iowa can’t deploy their patented “bend but don’t break” defense this season (which has a lot to do with the linebackers being able to perform at a high level), history will tell you that the team isn’t going to win eight games again, let alone compete with Wisconsin for the West division.
This isn’t hyperbole. It’s just the facts. When Iowa’s had to replace the likes of Abdul Hodge or Chad Greenway or Pat Angerer or AJ Edds or Anthony Hitchens or James Morris or Christian Kirksey it’s gone horribly wrong for those teams.
“But, but, but, but Jerry! This year’s different! This year, Iowa doesn’t necessarily need to have their hand held by the defense because the OFFENSE is going to be able to help them win games. The offense is going to be one of the best in the Big Ten!”
ThE 0fFeNSe iS G0iNg t0 Be 0nE oF tHe bESt IN tHe BiG tEn!
Do you REALLY believe that? I mean, I know it’s fun to THINK about what Brian Ferentz took away with him during his meetings with Georgia and New England. I know it’s fun to dream about all of the ways Iowa can deploy their healthy stable of NFL-level tight ends including future first round draft pick, Noah Fant. I know it’s fun to imagine Nate Stanley throwing for 30 touchdowns and becoming the first Iowa quarterback that matters in the NFL.
But this is Iowa’s offense we’re talking about here. Fun isn’t in the 20-year game plan.
Instead, we’ll see what we always do: a heavy dose of establishing the run (especially on first down, something they did 64.7% last year WITH Akrum Wadley) with an untested running back committee, controlling the tempo and playing the field position game.
Kirk and Brian Ferentz might keep telling us that they will scheme for the players they have, but I for one am not holding my breath that there is some version of new NEW Kirk that was suddenly swayed by his ol’ buddy Bill to spend the majority of the season in two-tight end, two-receiver or three tight end, one-receiver groupings... even if that’s the best case scenario for the team they currently have.
Tell me I’m wrong. G’head.
Oh, and don’t forget, when the offense sputters out after two straight runs into the untested interior of the offensive line and an incomplete pass, Iowa will be marching out hot vomit in a bag as their punter.
Punting was such an unmitigated disaster last season, that Nate Stanley was without a doubt Iowa’s best option towards the end of the season.
If punting is winning, then Iowa is destined for 8-wins once again... at best.
Alright, that’s it. I can’t do it anymore. I started to get hives towards the end there. Just know, writing that hurt. It hurt a lot.
Now, back to your regular Hello Jerry programming...
IOWA IS GOING TO THE BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP AND WILL BEAT WISCONSIN AND THE OFFENSE IS GOING TO BE IN 13-PERSONNEL ALL THE TIME AND NOBODY WILL BE ABLE TO STOP THEM, NEVER EVER!