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HOPE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD

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For every hope there is an equal and opposite curse word with the 2015 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Amidst the start of fall camp, with the season just over 3 weeks from starting, along side the heightened media coverage, I’m still just starting to get pumped for Iowa football. The excitement is starting to rise every day though. I’m—"cautiously optimistic" is too nice of a term—hopeful and cursing to myself in terror at the same time about what the 2015 Iowa Hawkeyes will become.

H is for Halfback

Why I’m hopeful

Iowa was a mediocre running game away (and having mediocre linebacker play, but we’ll get to that…) from winning maybe 2-3 more games last year. Is a mediocre running game possible this year? I think so. The combo of LeShun Daniels and Jordan Canzeri at this point looks like it should be a better 1-2 punch than Weisman/Bullock (no hate on either of those guys). Daniels is an actual running back (not, say, a fullback). He doesn’t have a ton of on field experience, but man, remember that one open practice when he looked great? And those practice pics…looks at those arms! Plus Chris White said on media days, that he has the potential to turn those 12-yard Wiesman runs into a 30 or 40-yarder.

And for as solid as Bullock was as the checkdown in the passing game, Canzeri should bring a more legitimate running threat on 3rd downs. He’s also has had success coming out of the backfield, making a grab, then getting some yards after the catch.

Throw in Akrum Wadley, who hopefully has better ball security, and it looks like the making for a good group.

The whole Brian Ferentz as running game coordinator thing is probably not as HUGE deal. But based on the comments from media day, it sounds like it will lead to a little more variety in the rushing attack. Any variety will be welcome. Running out of different formations, using the sweep without telegraphing it (having Parker as an actual WR will help there), some more power/man blocking schemes…something to keep opposing defenses on their toes. It just can’t be a fullback running outside zones any more.

Why I’m cursing

There isn’t much evidence that this group can be successful. The number one guy on the depth chart only has 51 carries in his carrier. And he’s only averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Those are not numbers that make me comfortable. Plus he’s had some injury problems, including recently missing the media day (with something supposedly minor). Canzeri has had his share of injuries too. (Damn you AIRBHG.) Oh, and the back that looks like he has the most potential, has given away 2 fumbles in just 33 carries. And with Kirk Ferentz ultimately at the helm, will we actually see anything beyond inside and outside zones, rinse, repeat?

$!#@

O is for Opposition

Why I’m hopeful

The schedule is soft. Really soft. The toughest non-conference game at this point looks like it might be to the #2 FCS team in the land. Or maybe against Pitt with a brand new coach. ISU? 4-0 should not be out of the question.

The B1G slate isn’t that bad either. Wisconsin and Nebraska on the road will be challenges, but both of those schools will be breaking in a new coach. Against Minnesota is at home and I expect Iowa to be looking for revenge. In the cross-division games, the Hawkeyes are avoiding OSU, Michigan State and Michigan. This is a very, very manageable schedule. Could this set up for a classic under-the-radar Iowa pulling off 9-10 wins?

Why I’m cursing

Iowa has never lost to a FCS school. But um, it could easily happen this year. Illinois State’s backfield will challenge Iowa’s defense. For real... They only lost 2 games last year, and one was in the FCS championship game. The season could start horribly.

And then there’s Iowa State and Pitt. Iowa could be looking at a 1-3 start. Then on the road to Wisconsin. A slip up against Illinois or Northwestern. Minnesota could wallop them again. At Nebraska will be hard. And all of a sudden Iowa is back to 2012’s 4-8 record.

%#^$

P is for Pass Defense

Why I’m hopeful

The corners could be very good. There were times Greg Mabin in his first year starting looked great. The Pitt game he maybe saved the day multiple times. He had some downs as well, but overall had an excellent year to build on. On the other side Desmond King is turning into the next draftable corner in the long line of NFL corners out of Iowa. He’s not quite "lockdown" status yet, but is close and he’s excellent in run support. With these 2 at corner it should allow the whole defense to be more aggressive and play better pass D.

At safety, Jordan Lomax has settle in nicely as the FS. He was the team’s 3rd leading tackler last year and made a lot of plays. It looks like the SS spot is going to go to Miles Taylor (at least right now). He’s seen only limited time, but from the sounds of things he’s a big hitter, which is something Iowa D could use. It feels like its been a while since there's been a missile back there.

So the secondary rounds our nicely.

Why I’m cursing

The linebackers.

They have to be better right? Another year, more experience, more wise. Pleeeeease.

I’m going to have a hard time believing in the linebackers until I see vast improvement. Even with a decent secondary and a good D-line, the Iowa defense last year was basically as bad as it has ever been under Ferentz. And the LB corps lost their leading tackler from last year.

And maybe this yearm the loss of both DTs will hurt more than we think. Maybe there will be no pass rush and QBs will have time to pick the D apart with slot receivers blowing by LBs.

@%$#

E is for Enter C.J.

Why I’m hopeful

I was a Jake guy. Now I’m a C.J. guy. So much of this season is riding on his big arm. Beathard has been so impressive at times. He can run the ball, he can chuck it downfield, he can zip it into tight spaces, he had dreamy hair which he chopped off to donate, he's met Taylor Swift. He’s got the tools to be a very good quarterback. And the coaches are happy with their decision to name him the starter right after the bowl game. Which says to me that he’s improved his decision making, leadership, etc… What’s not to love?

Why I’m cursing

Is Beathard that much better than Rudock? He’s thrown some beautiful long balls, but then has also had his share of off-target short passes. In his 1 full game against a bad Purdue team he didn’t even complete 50% of his passes. And what if he gets hurt? Oh no. What if!? He did get banged up last year keep it on the zone-read a few too many times in mop up time against Indiana. Who is the backup again?

#$@