5 burning offensive questions for the Iowa Hawkeyes heading into spring football
Slowly but surely we are escaping the pit that is the college football offseason. Full of transfers and coaching changes, the offseason can feel like a real slog to get through. This isn’t aided by the weather being bad either, just heightening our offseasonal depression.
It’s been a turbulent one for the Iowa Hawkeyes to say the least. Iowa brought in two big transfers from Michigan, but also saw multiple talented players depart as well. It is going to hurt to see Jestin Jacobs in an Oregon uniform next year, and I’m fully prepared for Keagan Johnson to be a star in the Big 12.
While Iowa managed to put together a good recruiting class, it all felt overshadowed by the guy they weren’t able to bring in. While many will try to criticize Proctor’s decision calling it short sighted, mind you Alabama also routinely sends linemen to the NFL, it’s really hard for me to envision anything but success for the young man. I truly do wish him the best, unless it’s in a national championship against Iowa to which I hope he gives up four sacks.
What else was there? Oh yeah, there was the entire “will they fire him” situation with offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. If it were up to most of the fanbase, the coach’s son would’ve been out the door a long time ago. Even before Iowa’s offense put up horrendous numbers this past season. Iowa did issue him an “ultimatum” though: bring the offense to passable levels and you sir get a raise and a pat on the back.
It still does feel like a bad dream.
It’s felt like all offseason the fanbase has received just kick in the pants after kick in the pants. I’m not sure if the same feeling of optimism is there that I noticed last year. So, how do you fix that? Well, it’s easy folks.
Winning is the remedy to literally any problem in sports. All of the down moments of the offseason will seem like little blips on the radar if Iowa football gets back to doing what they do in winning.
Of course, the biggest factor in that is the offense. Anyone who is familiar with last year’s team can tell you just how bad it is, and looking back on some of the box scores it truly is the stuff of nightmares. It cannot go on that way. No more wasting Phil Parker’s fantastic defensive efforts and no more wasting the fans’ time!
With the offense in mind, here are five questions about Brian Ferentz’s unit that should be on the minds of every single Iowa football fan.
How Different Will the Offense Be?
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I mean, this is the big one. Will this offense look any differently this year? You have a new quarterback in Cade McNamara and the seat is pretty much as hot as it’s going to get for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. Both the fans and the organization have made it clear that last year’s numbers will not cut it, though there is a divide in what is actually acceptable.
How will Brian Ferentz look to improve this offense heading into the 2023 season? Will he try and work in some new concepts, altering his scheme to cater more towards the modern NFL? Or, will he just hope that McNamara can do enough to make his scheme just passable enough again?
Who Will Step Up at Wide Receiver?
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So yeah, there was a lot of change at the wide receiver position for the Hawkeyes over the summer. Both Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV left for greener pastures in the Big 12, Johnson to Kansas State and Bruce to Oklahoma State respectively. You have to feel that an opportunity was massively missed with those two, especially Johnson who has a really bright future for the Wildcats.
Besides veteran slot receiver Nico Ragaini, who is returning for his fifth season, the position is a massive question mark. Who will be the one to step up? Diante Vines has potential, and incoming Charleston Southern transfer Seth Anderson could play a big role in the upcoming year. Maybe it will be a freshman such as Alex Mota, Jarriett Buie, or Dayton Howard who make the most of the open opportunity.
How Will Iowa Utilize Both Tight Ends?
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Luckily for Iowa, their embarrassment of riches at the tight end position could help minimize the lack of experience at wide receiver. While Sam LaPorta is off to the NFL, fans shouldn’t be worried with redshirt junior Luke Lachey returning. Lachey showed a lot of potential last year and was one of the few bright spots on the offense.
Joining him will be Michigan transfer Erick All. The senior already has experience playing with quarterback Cade McNamara. I’m very interested to see how both of them play off each other, and how Brian Ferentz plans on deploying them to maximize both of their talents.
Can the Offensive Line be Any Better?
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Now that we’ve talked about Brian Ferentz and the wide receivers room, let’s talk about other giant elephant in the room, the offensive line. After an entire spring of hype for the unit, promises that they were going to be a step up from a disappointing 2021 unit, Iowa’s offensive line was very bad last year.
Seriously folks. It’s draft season now and every time I see a video of a Big Ten defender completely shredding the Iowa line it just makes me cringe. They struggled to protect Spencer Petras, further heightening his struggles, and they really struggled to provide holes in the run game for most of the year. That’s two straight years now where it’s felt like we’ve seen a really good running back succeed in spite of the boys in front of him.
Simply put, it has not been good enough over the past two years. Not good enough at all in a position that is supposed to be the black and gold’s speciality! They need some of these young linemen to step up and step up quick, otherwise the moves for Cade McNamara and Erick All won’t mean anything.
Will Kaleb Johnson be Given the Keys to the Offense?
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Speaking of running backs, sophomore Kaleb Johnson was really good last year. The position was a big question after the departure of Tyler Goodson, and Johnson was the back who continually showed superstar potential. Just watch back his touchdown runs against Nevada and Purdue and try not to get excited!
Only a few times this year though did we see Kaleb Johnson given a full featured workload. Iowa still did a lot of committee work, that’s when they weren’t on defense that is. Johnson only had two games with over 20 carries, and turned that into 200 yards and a touchdown against the Boilermakers.
The sophomore back needs to be a featured player in Iowa’s offense. He has the potential to be Iowa’s best running back in a while, and one who could see himself playing on Sundays. Don’t mess this one up Brian!
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