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Morning After: Hawk Slayer Bowl Part II

Not a great start to 2024!

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Don’t EVER wish football season away. EVER.

I live by this simple tenet every season. We get to the end of the college season then smash right into NFL playoff mode, and the one thing always lurking in the back of my mind is, “Damnit, football is almost over for the year. We’re running out of games!” It’s the worst feeling. We get 8 months of Not Football. There are plenty of other teams out there that I support to get me through to next season. But no football? It’s the hole in everyone’s life for those 8 months.

Iowa football has put this tenet to the test. It’s been harder and harder to abide by since 2021, and this year finally got me. I’m glad this season has drawn to a close for Iowa. We’ve had three seasons of toxicity, from nearly everyone. Fans toward players. Parents of players pulled into the mud. Fans toward fans. Coaches gaslighting fans, as if we’re the crazy ones for being mad about the offense. It’s been a generally unhappy existence in this space for three years now.

So if there was a time for needing a break, it’s now after a 35-0 blasting at the hands of Tennessee (combined score from the last two meetings? 80-28) in which Iowa looked comically inept on a national stage yet again. We need these 8 months apart. Maybe Kirk can pull us back in with his new offensive coordinator - it’s certainly possible that he makes a good hire and we’re all pulled back in, Michael Corleone style. I know I’ll be alive again if Kirk hires an OC in the Paul Chryst mold, someone that was legitimately excellent in that role at Wisconsin and would have enough cred to tell Kirk to eat it.

But right now? I declare like my 4-year-old does when he’s in a bad mood - give me space! I need space!

  • Somehow I’ve gone this far without mentioning that we witnessed the final game of the Brian Ferentz “era” as Iowa offensive coordinator. Some of the ardent Brian supporters? Good luck explaining away the following tweets:

2.7 yards per play against ranked teams this year, and 3.94 yards per play for the season! There are more stats - there’s a stat for everything with Brian - such as Iowa being shut out three times in a season for the first time since 1972 and the aforementioned shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since 1966, but I will spare you. This section would be substantially longer if we did a deep dive on some of these Brian stats. We’ve seen historic ineptitude from the offense. Somehow they were substantially worse than a year ago!!!

  • That should be the end of Deacon Hill’s time as Iowa’s signal caller. Look - the guy tried and he probably never expected to be in this role. He sounds like a good kid and a good teammate. But he was just bad at this. It only took a play or two for us to see that Marco Lainez brought more to the table than Big Deac ever did. It’s staggering it took this long for him to be replaced in the lineup with /waves hand all of those turnovers (8 interceptions, 11 fumbles (6 lost) in 9 starts, for those scoring at home). But we’ve seen Kirk stick with quarterbacks before due to his aversion to anything that can even fall remotely close to a quarterback controversy so I shouldn’t be so surprised by this.
  • Another reason to take a break from this program? Their inability to evaluate the quarterback position. They’re laughably bad at it. But that’s what you get when you have no real quarterback coach on the roster (another troll by Kirk, moving Brian into that role) and you coach this to be a risk-averse position.
  • One thing we need to change - stop robbing the offense of any and all meaningful athletes. This is a huge gripe for me. Kirk allows Phil Parker to pick all of the athletes and that’s caught up to Iowa.
  • Another gripe - Logan Jones...are we sure he isn’t a guard? The snap has been an issue for two years now, and the ground game was better with Tyler Elsbury at center.
  • Two more stats - no touchdowns since Deacon scored on a sneak early in the second quarter at Nebraska - 10 quarters ago - and no touchdowns against a ranked team scored by the offense since October 1, 2022 against Michigan (Joe Evans scored at Ohio State last year).
  • Oh why not - a couple more tweets for the Brian lovers out there:
  • Some positives from this game were the Lainez cameo - he needs work but he can make plays with his feet, which is better than any single attribute Deacon possesses - Jay Higgins finishing the season with 171 tackles, tying the school record for tackles in a season set by Andre Jackson in 1972, and Joe Evans finishing with an Iowa bowl record 4 sacks in the game. He finishes fourth all-time in sacks at Iowa with 28. That’s a brilliant finish to Evans’s career. Fortunately we get to see Higgins next year - 8 months away - and perhaps we see more of Lainez.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tory Taylor now owning the record for punting yards in a season with 4,479 yards after punting 7 times for 360 yards against the Vols, breaking a record that’s stood since 1938. We will miss you, Mr. Taylor!
  • One more thing on Brian. Mercifully, Beth Goetz and Barbara Wilson ended this when they did. Imagine the vitriol surrounding this team if they hadn’t moved on Brian after the Minnesota game. Kirk and Brian can whine about the process all they want - Brian should’ve been straight-up fired after Minnesota. He should have been fired after last year. He probably should have been fired after 2021. He was fortunate to get the final stretch of the season where he could keep collecting checks from the University of Iowa, and he was fortunate that co-conspirator #1 was his “boss” for as long as he was. Goetz and Wilson ended this at the right time, and that feeling you have right now is relief. Relief that this is mercifully done and we can move on as a program.