Hawkeye fans were treated to an offensive explosion on Saturday night/Sunday morning of week three and now optimism flows abundantly in Hawkeye Nation. Or something like that.
Truth be told, Iowa did enough to show that perhaps the fire burning inside Kinnick is only a three alarm blaze rather than the fiver alarm inferno things looked to be through the first two weeks. That was aided in large part by the return of multiple WRs for the Hawkeyes. After playing a single snap against Iowa State, former 4-star receiver Brody Brecht started against Nevada on Saturday.
He was joined on the turf at Duke Slater Field by both Nico Ragaini and Keagan Johnson, who made their season debuts in week three. Now heading into week four, it’s time to see who, if any, among them is actually reflected in this week’s version of the depth chart.
Iowa released their weekly game notes and two deeps on Monday afternoon, and while things still appear to be a joke in some spots (Louie Stec remains the skinniest defensive tackle to play division one football since the end of WWII), we appear to have real live news in this week’s depth chart.
Here’s a look at it in its entirety.
- Welcome back Nico Ragaini! As mentioned, Ragaini returned in week three to lead the Hawkeyes in receiving yards (56) on a pair of receptions. He made an instant impact by catching the longest pass of the season for Iowa - a 46-yard bomb from Spencer Petras (we’ll let you judge the quality of the pass). Now he’s officially back on the depth chart behind Arland Bruce IV at WR.
- While Ragaini was back and involved, Keagan Johnson also made his return but with far fewer snaps (only 16 according to PFF). He’s still not shown on this week’s depth chart after not being involved much of the second half.
- Speaking of the depth chart reflecting what we saw on the field, the offensive line now looks like what the staff has been trotting out there to start games. We’ll see if this group can get some cohesion and actually show some of the push they demonstrated at times in week three. Hopefully they figure out things in the passing game or we may ultimately get Alex Padilla the hard way.
- Drew Stevens has arrived. After an open competition during fall camp, Aaron Blom appeared to win the job and started the first two games of the season. He missed his first FG attempt of the year and followed that up with a miss on what would have been the game-tying try at the end of regulation against Iowa State. That opened the door for Stevens, who was a perfect 2/2 against Nevada in week three. Here’s to hoping we have the next in a long line of highly accurate kickers for the Hawkeyes.
- Kaleb Johnson was great on offense and his reward is... kick off return. While it was Ragaini that took the top off the defense in the passing game, it was true freshman Johnson who broke things open with his 40-yard run in the first quarter. He followed that up with Iowa’s longest play of the season - a 55-yard scamper to close the door on the Wolfpack. He’s now listed as Iowa’s top return man on KOR, replacing Gavin Williams. It’s Williams, however, who remains the starting RB. Leshon Williams, who missed last week due to the passing of his father, has returned to the depth chart as the #2 RB.
- On the defensive side of the ball, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Phil Parker certainly doesn’t have anything broken on the nation’s second place team in scoring defense. Jestin Jacobs remains doubtful for this week, but we’ll check in with KF in Kirk Speaks on Wednesday morning.
Here’s hoping the depth chart continues to show more familiar names returning to familiar roles. Things weren’t perfect on Saturday, but some positive momentum would certainly be welcome.