The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the week as a top-5 team for the second consecutive street and for the second consecutive week they are set to take on an unranked opponent in Kinnick Stadium. Iowa enters the week riding a 9-game winning streak and fresh off another multi-score win in week three.
The Hawkeyes topped 30 points for the second time this season against Kent State and for the third time in as many games, the Iowa defense put points on the board. The Iowa D has now scored 23 points this season and as many touchdowns as all the three opposing offenses they’ve faced combined. The Hawkeyes rank 4th nationally in scoring defense while Tory Taylor is top-10 in the nation in punting at nearly 50 yards per punt.
The Iowa offense, however, continues to struggle with. The 30 point per game average is aided by the nearly 8 points per game being contributed by the defense, but still ranks 63rd nationally. Iowa’s 298 yards per game is ahead of only Kansas and Colorado among P5 schools in the nation.
So it’s clear there is a divergence between the three phases of the game, but on the heels of such a winning streak and yet another blowout win, would Kirk Ferentz and staff make any changes to the depth chart?
On Monday, we found out as the Hawkeyes released their week 4 game notes, including a fresh depth chart.
In short: no. There are no notable changes from a week ago.
The defense is what the defense will be. There’s no need to make any major changes to the rotation given how well that group has performed. Don’t expect to see any changes on that side of the ball unless we start to see injuries. Thus far, Iowa has been lucky on that front (** knocks on lots of wood **).
The only exception to that rule has been defensive end Ethan Hurkett, who went down on Saturday. He was not listed on the two-deeps previously, so no changes for him this week. We’ll get a status update on Hurkett and any other injuries during his press availability on Tuesday.
The offensive side of the ball is where most Iowa fans are wringing their hands. However, the offensive line looked improved in week three. That’s likely driven in part by the return of RS senior Kyler Schott. Shooter is still listed as the backup RG entering week four. Look for him to increase his workload this week and potentially find his way back into the starting lineup for Iowa’s week five matchup at Maryland.
The only other place there really seems to be criticism from the fanbase is at QB. Spencer Petras has been a lightning rod, as is almost always true for the starting QB at Iowa. But Petras completed 69% of his passes on Saturday and has yet to turn the ball over in 2021. His last interception came six games ago in a 2020 win over Nebraska.
There is almost no world in which Kirk Ferentz or any other rational head coach considers benching his starter on the heels of those types of numbers while riding a 9-game winning streak and a top-5 national ranking. Petras has his warts and they may well cost Iowa a game this year, but benching him is not something any coach in America would remotely consider at this juncture.
And thus, no changes entering week four of the 2021 season. Here’s hoping Hawkeye fans can say the same thing entering week five.