Part two of our roundtable, where we finally get to those final record predictions. You can find part one right here.
Greg Davis has been taking about getting more speed at received since he rode into town. Now it looks like there might be some in the freshman group. Which of the true freshman WRs will play? Any other freshmen have a shot?
Adam Jacobi: Adrian Falconer is named Adrian Falconer and thus is a prohibitive favorite. I think the coaches would love it if Jay Scheel held the kids off, though—he’s had the inside track on the depth chart through fall camp and he’s got the open field ability Iowa badly needs out of its wideouts.
Mike Jones: Jerminic Smith is my guy. He was relatively highly recruited, has solid measurements and got plenty of action at Kid’s Day. He’ll not only play, he’ll catch a touchdown or two. I don’t see any other freshmen getting action at WR.
RossWB: The smart money seems to be on Jerminic Smith. He looked solid at the open practice a few weeks ago and has gotten some praise from his coaches and teammates. Plus, he’s wearing #9, so it’s possible that the spirit of Mo Brown will possess him and he’ll become the big play receiving threat the Iowa offense has needed for ages. If it’s not Smith, I’ll guess that they teach Emmanuel Ogwo the Damond Powell portion of the playbook and let him put that sprinter speed to work.
Matthew Lundeen: Jerminic Smith and Emmanuel Ogwo are obvious candidates based on the hype coming out of the program about them. But I don’t know if both will see the field this year just because there is a trio of upper class guys in Smith, Hillyer, and Vandeberg cementing the top three at the position, while freshman Jay Scheel seems to have worked his way onto the depth chart. And then we can’t forget about Jonathan Parker, who showed some playmaking ability last year and Andre Harris, who has yet to do anything at Iowa, but has still been in the program longer. (Ferentz tends to favor seniority.) Based on all of that I would think that only Jerminic Smith will get to see a little bit of playing time at wide receiver this year.
Horace E. Cow: The falcon cannot hear the Falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
TOUCHDOWN IOWA! TOUCHDOWN IOWA!
hawk6894: I think all three have a great shot with Falconer and Smith both seeing time on the outside and Ogwo handling the four or five Paul Chaney Jr. end arounds that we usually see. As far as other true freshmen, James Daniels will probably see time on the line, but that will be about it barring major injury problems.
Hayden Fry's Mustache Ride: I feel confident that Emmanuel Ogwo will be the first freshman to touch the ball on an end around against Iowa State. He’s got real track speed and I think we’ll see him a little bit in the Damond Powell role, which is to say an underused decoy.
Patrick Vint: If the open scrimmage is any indication, we might see all three receivers. Not only is it a position of need where they can all contribute, but Iowa doesn’t see as much benefit in redshirting speed players. We’ll also see James Daniels, probably as a starter on the interior by the fourth week of the season, and safety Michael Ojemudia on special teams. There’s a chance of linebacker Angelo Garbutt or combo linebacker/safety Jack Hockaday making it onto the field this year. Everyone else will probably redshirt.
PSD: All three will play at some point. I think Jerminic Smith will get the most reps initially and we’ll see Adrian Falconer and Emmanuel Ogwo get into the game once they have more time with the playbook and school life, etc.
FightForIowa: I thought the freshmen receivers would be in for sure, but it sounds like guys like Riley McCarron keep creeping up. My guess is that one of the receivers (whoever can block best) will get the prestigious lone decoy receiver spot in the 22 set they run on 3-and-1 that has no shot at seeing a ball thrown his way. I’ll say Jerminic Smith for now.
Even with speedy freshmen in the mix there is still no chance that Tevaun Smith won’t be the leading reciever. So what do his numbers look like?
Adam If Smith isn’t used in a role similar to Marvin McNutt’s outlandish 2011 season it’ll be a travesty. He’s not supremely agile, so his route-running isn’t his strong point, but he’s fast enough to get free on vertical routes and his catch ability is unholy. Call it 75 catches, 1,200 yards and at least 10 TDs—closer to 15 if the coaches realize he’s also the best red zone option.
Mike: As I’m hedging my bets on Iowa being more prolific through the air this season, I’ll say around 700 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
Ross: Since Greg Davis arrived in Iowa City, Iowa hasn’t had a receiver top 600 receiving yards or 5 TDs (although C.J. Fiedorowicz had 6 TDs from the tight end position in 2013). But I’m cautiously optimistic that Smith can buck that trend – he’s the best WR Iowa’s had in the offense since Davis got here and he’s the most experienced and reliable option in the Iowa passing game this year. C.J. is going to rely on him a lot. So I’ll say he catches 65 passes for about 700 yards and 7 TDs.
Matthew: In the three years that Greg Davis has been offensive coordinator, the leading receiver on the team has never eclipsed 600 yards receiving. Smith came the closest to that last season with 596. Based on the returning pass-catchers, though, I think the only people who will take a large amount of catches and yards away from Smith are Duzey and Vandeberg. And since Duzey will miss a decent portion of the early season and I think CJB will be more likely to try and get the ball down the field than Rudock did last season, I am going to say that Smith comes away with something like 60 catches, 750 yards, and 7 touchdowns in 2015. (Ed. Note: I swear Matt and I did not collaborate on our answers. -- Ross)
Horace E. Cow: 50 rec., 600 yards
hawk6894: 62 receptions, 930 yards, seven TDs and two absolutely insane plays that end up on the SportsCenter Top 10. It’s nice for a QB to have a security blanket that can catch everything in sight and share his poutine.
HFMR: He’s averaging 13.5 yards per reception for his career catching passes from a QB who preferred not to throw it 13.5 yards, so if he doesn’t eclipse that this year then everything has gone wrong.
58 Rec 837 yards 5 TD
If those numbers seem too high, it’s only because of your own tempered expectations for the frustratingly shitty play-calling.
Patrick: Opponents are going to double team him non-stop unless and until Iowa shows it has another threat in the passing game. That will only come when Jay Scheel hits the turf, George Kittle goes wild or Jake Duzey returns from injury. In any case, it doesn’t mean much for Smith, something like 40 catches for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns.
PSD: 70 receptions, 740 yards, 7 touchdowns.
FightForIowa: I have a feeling C.J. Beathard is going to target Smith a LOT. Man coverage? Bomb it up to Smith. 3rd down, nobody open, let’s see if Tevaun can make a tricky catch. Play action and he’s double covered down the field? Chuck it up anyway. He won’t quite reach McNutt levels, but 72 catches, 900 yards, and 8 TDs.
On a scale of 2002 best OL ever to 2007 leaky sieve OL, where does the 2015 OL rank?
Adam Jacobi: I’m terrified. 2007 at least had future NFLers; they just weren’t fully developed or cohesive. Who are the pro prospects now? Blythe is the only sure shot and he’s not a world-class masher. The guards are a maybe, and the tackles… well, let’s hope Ott and Meier are All-Big Ten ends in the making, or else this season really might reset the bottom of the scale of Iowa line play.
Mike Jones: This…answering this question wouldn’t even be fun. It just makes me sad. What’s slightly better than 2007? 2006? OK, 2006.
RossWB: Unfortunately, it’s a hell of a lot closer to the 2007 line that had Jake Christensen running for his life much of the season than it is the 2002 or 2008 lines that paved the way for so much success on offense. My main hope is just that it’s not TOO close to the 2007 line.
Matthew Lundeen: I’m leaning toward 2007 leaky sieve offensive line. I hope I’m wrong, but Austin Blythe is the only one I am not worried about. The tackle position is extremely young and the guards aren’t exactly proven either. Eric Simmons has been on campus for a while and has not broken through on the depth chart until this season, while Jordan Walsh has plenty of live game experience, but has not always looked very good on the field. I have a feeling that the starting offensive line we see in the first game of the season will look different than the one we probably see midway through the season.
Horace E. Cow: 2007 leaky sieve.
hawk6894: Sadly much closer to the latter year than the former. We are less than two weeks away from the start of the season and still choosing a left tackle. That is not ideal. I don’t want to spoil Vint’s Assume the Position for the line, but I will: thousands of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
HFMR Damn it. Way closer to 2007, but maybe like end of the year 2007 heading into 2008.
Patrick: Is 2000 an option? Because the number of question marks – it’s basically Austin Blythe and four guys who might not have a job by next Saturday – makes it feel a lot like the work-in-progress line that Iowa fielded in 2000.
PSD: After seeing two open practices and one spring game online, they’re 2007. But, as I said in the first question, they can be 2008 by the end of the season.
FightForIowa: Oh no, oh no, oh no… I’ll stick with my 2006 comparison. But 2007 wouldn’t surprise me.
Maybe we should have a question on the defense… Two returning starting corners and an experienced free safety. This is the best secondary since…?
Adam: 2009’s corps of Spievey-Greenwood-Sash-Prater and a young Micah Hyde cracking the lineup was vicious, and it showed—opposing QBs threw for all of nine touchdowns for the whole year, and Iowa picked 21 passes off. It would be too much to ask Iowa’s pass defense to match that kind of production, but if it can be as solid as fans are hoping, late leads should feel a little bit more secure.
Ross: 2008 or 2009. Iowa had Bradley Fletcher, Amari Spievey, and Shaun Prater at cornerback then, plus Brett Greenwood and Tyler Sash at safety. Desmond King and Greg Mabin could be the best combination at corner that Iowa’s had since Fletcher-Spievey or Spievey-Prater (although Prater-Hyde was pretty solid in 2011, too) and Taylor has the most playmaking potential at safety since Sash (hopefully his coverage – and ball-hawking – skills are as good). This secondary has the potential to be really damn good – probably the best position unit on the entire Iowa team.
Matthew: 2010? That season had Micah Hyde and Shaun Prater at corner back, who I think Desmond King and Greg Mabin are comparable to. I think Desmond King is an NFL draft pick. I also think Greg Mabin has all the tools to be one, but he needs to show more on the field this year. 2010 had also had Sash and Greenwood at safety. I think Miles Taylor can be as good as either of those guys were in run support, while Lomax proved himself capable of being an excellent free safety as a junior. I imagine he will do just fine as a senior too.
Horace E. Cow: 2011 with Prater and Hyde.
hawk6894: At least 2011 when Shaun Prater (is he a problem at cornerback?) and Jordan Bernstine were both seniors. Iowa has had individual standouts since then (Micah Hyde, B.J. Lowery, Desmond King), but it has been some time since the Hawkeyes were this talented and deep across the board.
HFMR: Maybe 2009. If King, Mabin and Lomax can be Prater, Spievey and Sash then we’re not going to have anything to complain about. Well no, that’s not true. We’ll definitely find something to complain about.
Patrick: 2009, probably. This isn’t quite Spievey/Prater/Good Greenwood/Sash yet, but it’s close on paper. The corners have something like 37 starts between them, and form an athletic and physical duo on the edge of the defense. Jordan Lomax showed last year that he belongs in that free safety spot, and Miles Taylor replacing John Lowdermilk could be addition by subtraction.
PSD: Right now, they’re 2012 but could be as good as 2011. That team had Bernstine, Tanner Miller, Shaun Prater and Micah Hyde.
FightForIowa: I’ll go with 2011 right now, but the ceiling is super high. I think King can be just as good as any in the long line of drafted CBs, and Lomax is capable of being one of the better free safeties in a while.
After two decent years as a starter, Louis Trinca-Pasat emerged as one of the best players on either side of the ball in 2014. Who do you expect to make The Leap as a senior in 2015?
Adam: I think Jordan Lomax emerges as the top play-maker on defense. He’s fully experienced at safety and can punish mistakes on longer throws—and Iowa should be facing plenty of QBs who’ll make mistakes. Look for plenty of picks and pass deflections along with his usually solid tackling.
Mike: Dillon Kidd because gosh darn it I demand a great punter one of these days. OK, not really it’s more likely to be one of the tight ends. Probably Duzey.
Ross: I’m really hoping it’s Nate Meier. Drew Ott looks like he’s poised to be a tremendous destructive force for Iowa’s defense, but if he can’t get support from the rest of Iowa’s line, it might be too easy for opponents to simply double team him and trust that the rest of Iowa’s defensive linemen won’t be able to hurt them much. If Meier can make The Leap and become a disruptive pass-rushing force and effective at slowing down the run game, it should free up Ott to dominate. Meier playing at a high level will also hopefully make it easier for Iowa’s less experienced faces at defensive tackle and linebacker to make some plays, too.
Matthew: If we are picking solely seniors, I think Henry Krieger-Coble could take a step forward this season with Jake Duzey hurt early on. The only problem with that pick is that HKC has never had huge numbers (outside of his touchdown to reception ratio), so him making the leap may only mean him having a senior season Ray Hamilton-like 18 catches, 175 yards, and 3 touchdowns. If we can pick juniors, though, I am hoping Jaleel Johnson turns it on this season.
Horace E. Cow: Jaleel Johnson.
hawk6894: Let’s show some love to a fullback. Macon Plewa was on and off the field due to injury most of last fall. The eight games he played, Iowa amassed 3,390 yards (an average of 424 yards per game), the five he didn’t the Hawkeyes averaged just 362 yards per game. With plenty of questions about the offensive line, it will be nice to have an experienced fullback like Plewa leading the way.
HFMR I think Jaleel Johnson is the next guy for "the light to go on" and hopefully we don’t have to wait until his senior year.
Patrick: Jordan Walsh makes the most sense, mostly because Iowa has a track record of highly-regarded offensive line recruits taking 4-5 years to figure out how to block. In recent years, Tommy Gaul and Matt Tobin came out of the woodwork in their final years on the offensive line. Why not Walsh, who could be critical to Iowa’s success or failure in 2015 more than any other offensive lineman.
PSD: I think Jordan Lomax will be the leader of the defense and may work himself into an NFL Draft pick. We saw Jordan Bernstine do that his senior year and I expect a similar final campaign from Lomax.
FightForIowa: Let’s say Cole Fisher. Mostly because the linebacker corps desperately needs to be better than last year. And if a Fisher can step up and provide some senior power there, then that would be a big boost. He’s uprooted last year’s start, Bower, so that’s a good sign.
Any finally: Final record, bowl destination (hopefully), trophies in the case at the end of the year.
Adam: 6-6 and a Pinstripe Bowl berth, and the Cy-Hawk Trophy all alone in the display case. Yeah, yuck.
Mike: 7-5 (4-4), Foster Farms Bowl, Floyd of Rosedale.
Ross: I’m going to go with 8-4 and a trip to Nashville for a little country music and Music City Bowl football. As for trophies… I think Iowa gets two of four: the Cy-Hawk Trophy (dear god get that stupid thing back) and Floyd of Rosedale. The Heartland Trophy will continue its extended stay in Madison and whatever the hell the Nebraska game trophy is will spend another year in Lincoln.
Matthew: At this moment in time, I really do feel like this is another 2014. So I’m going to go with 7-5 (4-4) and the Tax Slayer Bowl. I do think they bring home one trophy this season, but I’m not sure whether I think the Cy-Hawk or Floyd is more likely right now.
Horace E. Cow: 7-5, Pinstripe Bowl, CyHawk Trophy.
hawk6894: 8-4 and a trip to the Foster Farms Bowl (because who knows farms more than Iowa). Hawkeyes reclaim the Cy-Hawk Trophy and fill the rest of their trophy case with Kirk’s model car collection again.
HFMR Heart: 9-3 Brain: 7-5
Heart: Capital One Brain: Music City
Heart: 3 trophies Brain: 1 trophy
You know what, my brain is an asshole. I’ll split the difference and say 8-4, Outback and 2 trophies, plus a bowl win.
Iowa’s looking for a new coach…
…but we’ll still have Cy-Hawk and Heroes.
PSD: After the open Kid’s Day I was ready to say 6-6 but now I’m leaning 8-4. That’s likely New York in the Pinstripe Bowl or in California in the Holiday or Foster Farms since Iowa did Florida last year.
FightForIowa: 7-5, Pinstripe Bowl, and 2 trophies.
That's a wrap. Let us know what you think in the comments.