I hope you all enjoyed your final weekend of Hawkeye-free football for the next three months or so, as the following 12 weeks are going to be filled with harrumphing, unnecessary stress to our psyches, complex carbohydrates and horrific takes from Nebraska Twitter.
In lieu of some all-encompassing preview for the season, I’ve decided to jot down 10 bold predictions that’ve been roosting around the cobwebs of my mind for a couple minutes. I originally wrote these with old-fashioned pen and paper on a flight over the weekend, so while these may seem lazy and hastily-written, they actually weren’t, which probably says something about my chances for early onset dementia.
10 Bold Predictions for Iowa football in 2019:
1. Alaric Jackson will be the first Hawkeye taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Tristan Wirfs is getting all the hype, which makes sense given his local ties, but Alaric Jackson is the more talented tackle. There’s a reason why AJ is protecting Nate Stanley’s blindside, and while Wirfs is plenty great, Jackson is the rock on this offensive line. He’ll start generating Tweets from Mel Kiper Jr. by mid-October.
2. Mekhi Sargent is going to be a second-team all-conference selection.
And this is only because Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor is a likely all-American at the position.
Honestly, I was really skeptical of this rushing attack going into the year, but I’ve found optimism down two avenues: 1. it sounds like Ivory Kelly-Martin has been put in a drawer, leaving Mekhi Sargent as our go-to guy and Toren Young as the third down back.
Actually that’s just one avenue.
I’m envisioning a season not unlike Akrum Wadley’s 2017, where Sargent becomes a reliable weapon on the ground and in the air. If he can amass around 1,300 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns, then I’ll feel really good about Iowa’s chances at scoring points this year.
Sorry JK Dobbins!
3. Geno Stone will be Iowa’s player of greatest impact on the defense this year.
It’s not AJ Epenesa, but Geno Stone who’ll make this defense tick.
I think there’s shades of Tyler Sash and Micah Hyde in Stone’s game, and this guy can cover as well as he can hit. Geno is gonna get similar newfound hype a la Amani Hooker the last two years, leading to an illustrious NFL career for the Stoneman.
4. No Iowa player will have more than six receiving touchdowns this year.
It makes me sad to write, but this lackluster receiving corps is my greatest fear for Iowa football in 2019.
5. The Iowa-Iowa State game will have a hand in deciding the College Football Playoff.
Does Iowa State make it to the postseason with a loss to Iowa? Absolutely not. The inverse is not true of course.
6. A loss to Iowa will cause an opposing coach to lose his job this year.
Jim Harbaugh won’t survive another year where he loses to both Ohio State and Iowa. Can Lovie Smith endure ANOTHER 60-point loss? Iowa sets the table for James Franklin’s and PJ Fleck’s ouster though they each have at least another year or so of goodwill. The boat-rower gets another year, but more losses to Iowa start to finally irk all 11 Minnesota football fans.
So this is basically me saying Michigan is losing to Iowa and Ohio State this year.
Kirk Ferentz: Kingmaker and Coach Killer.
7. LeVar Woods takes a job at another school unless he gets promoted after this year.
What’s a promotion? Co-defensive coordinator? LeVar hasn’t stuck around this long to just be a special teams coach, even though ostensibly he’s fourth in command here. Other teams have definitely taken notice of Woods’ talent, and we better hope he doesn’t bolt.
8. Nate Stanley is the first Big Ten quarterback taken in the upcoming NFL Draft.
This is kind of a lukewarm take given the dearth of upperclassmen talent at the position in the conference, but Stanley’s arm strength and role in an NFLish offense (will pro-style offenses still be called pro-style in a couple years?) will have draftniks salivating over Nate the Great.
9. AJ Epenesa has a profoundly disappointing season.
I’m talking Adrian Clayborn 2010 numbers. The only upside to this is we get one more year of AJE as he tries to rebuild his draft stock, while other defensive linemen thrive in 2019 as opposing teams devote two players to blocking Epenesa.
10. This is the year that will define Kirk Ferentz’s career at Iowa.
A third-year starter at quarterback. Two first-round offensive tackles. At least one NFL defensive lineman and defensive back apiece (not to mention an all-conference running back!). This team is sneakily loaded with talent, and what Kirk does with it this year is what we’re gonna remember most about our ball coach.
If Iowa doesn’t win the West and set the table for Brian Ferentz to take over for Papa Bear, we’re gonna be watching the twilight of Kirk’s career with consternation as we pray to Lizzo that Bob Stoops hasn’t already taken the USC job before 2025.
So there you have it. Do some of these predictions directly contradict one another? Yes. Do I care? Nope!
11. BONUS PREDICTION!!!
The Big Ten will have a participant in the College Football Playoff, but that team will not deserve to be there over Notre Dame or the Big 12/SEC runner-up.
Clemson/Georgia/Oklahoma is going to absolutely boatrace whoever wins the Big Ten, catapulting the conversation for playoff expansion to new heights.
Have yourselves a great week folks. I have S I X (6) weddings on Iowa gamedays this year, please roast my friends and family in the comments below.