Week two was at the same time very similar and totally different to week one for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa avoided the slew of penalties and redzone turnovers that cost them a win at Purdue in the season opener, but continued to shoot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over three times on Saturday.
Worse, the Iowa offense looked like a shell of itself from the week prior. While Iowa was able to run all over the Boilermakers to the tune of 195 rushing yards, the run game was nearly left for dead in week two, mustering just 77 yards on 23 attempts. Instead, in just his second career start QB Spencer Petras was asked to throw the ball 51 times. That’s not a typo.
Now sitting at 0-2 and firmly on the outside looking in at the Big Ten West race, the Hawkeyes enter week three with some notable changes on both sides of the ball.
- Thanks to his Sunday morning OWI charges, senior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is not on the depth chart this week
- Versatile WR Tyrone Tracy will start in ISM’s place with Nico Ragaini, Iowa’s slot receiver, listed as his backup
- Matt Hankins is no longer an OR at Cash with Dane Belton
- A week after sliding from backup FS to backup SS, Kaevon Merriweather is the starter at SS while Belton is at Cash
- Seth Benson is back in as the starter at MLB, meaning Nick Niemann is back out to WLB
- That bumps Jestin Jacobs out of a starting role and into the backup WLB role
- We’re down to just two punters listed, but based on what we’ve seen from Tory Taylor he’s not giving that starting job up barring injury
We knew the Smith-Marsette change was coming and there’s really no surprise that Tyrone Tracy is stepping right in. While Nico Ragaini has been the #3 receiver in terms of reps due to his role as the slot receiver, the versatility of Tracy allows him to play all over the field. When Brandon Smith went down a year ago, we saw Tracy fill in admirably. Hopefully we see similar production in the absence of ISM this weekend.
It is a bit interesting that there was no change at all along the offensive line. That’s a deep group with lots of options and frankly they struggled a bit against Northwestern. There was virtually no push in the ground game and that hurt the Iowa offense. We’ll see if the same group of guys can have better results this week I guess.
On the defensive side of the ball, the only true shakeup here is coming at safety. After getting burnt by David Bell, we saw Phil Parker toy with the back end a bit last week. Now it seems he’s found something he likes. That is Dane Belton at Cash primarily with Kaevon Merriweather the new starter at SS. Merriweather brought the boom a week ago and finished with 5 tackles. Here’s hoping he trends in the right direction as the season progresses. It certainly feels like this is going to be a year where the Hawkeyes need to lean on the defensive if they’re going to salvage anything.