5 keys to success for the Iowa Hawkeyes against Iowa State

·4 min read

The Cy-Hawk rivarly is upon us and kickoff is rapidly approaching. For the first time since 2018, the matchup returns to Kinnick Stadium and the Iowa Hawkeyes hosting after a brief hiatus of traveling to Iowa State and other circumstances.

The Iowa offense is looking to improve on their previous showing and in doing that have been very effective at ignoring the outside noise. They are focused on what happens internally.

The Iowa State Cyclones come into town off of an impressive offensive performance in their opener while their defense is still in the process of growing and gelling into one unit, although they have some serious talent.

The Hawkeyes can win this game with contributions from all three units and all will be called upon at some point. With the Cy-Hawk set to kick off at 3 p.m, CST this afternoon, let’s go into the weekend the right way and look at five keys to success for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Neutralize Will McDonald IV

(AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Will McDonald, who I discussed the other day in the Iowa State defensive outlook, is a future NFL player and potential star. He is chasing Big 12 sack records and can really flip a game on its head with his pass rushing ability. He is extraordinarily talented and that is why I carefully chose the word “neutralize” rather than “stop” him. He will get his, but limiting his success will be key.

Should the Hawkeyes get their passing game on track, Spencer Petras will need more time than he got last week and priority number one in the pass protection is always having a beat on where McDonald is. The Hawkeyes would be wise to utilize double teams, tight ends chipping him, or sliding running backs over in pass protection.

Rush for 100-plus yards as an offense

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa needs to get the ground game going. They are a traditional offense where the run game opens up the passing game. Being able to keep Iowa State honest on the ground will be massively important in churning the clock, keeping the Hawkeyes’ defense rested, and creating some easy completions on play-action passes.

I say that 100 yards should be collective because it would be wise to attack the Cyclones with multiple players. Getting Arland Bruce IV involved on jet sweeps would be a nice wrinkle to see. It also feels like Leshon Williams may be primed to take the next step in the backfield. He found a rhythm late last week and my gut suspects a strong outing from him.

Use the weather to your advantage

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

The weather has taken a turn for the worse… or maybe better for the Iowa Hawkeyes. The forecast has turned to a 15% chance of precipitation at kickoff and a 56% chance of showers at 6 p.m.

As I discussed on Twitter, this isn’t the best weather to endure as I sit inside Kinnick, but it is definitely better for the type of game Iowa wants to play. This forecast can help neutralize Iowa State’s passing attack and force them to try and run against a stout Iowa defense. Protect the ball on offense and force Iowa State to get in the mud (or wet turf in this case) tomorrow.

Get Sam LaPorta more involved offensively

Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Sam LaPorta might just be the key that makes the Hawkeyes’ passing game go tomorrow. Last week the future NFL draft pick had just two receptions. Using his mix of speed and strength could give fits to the Cyclones’ defense.

With a less-than-stellar forecast for passing the ball, finding LaPorta between the hashes for some easy first downs should be of extreme importance. He can work in the 10 to 12-yard range to move the chains, loosen up the linebackers to give the running game some breathing room, and be a big target to provide Spencer Petras some confidence.

Embrace the field position battle

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

This is a key that can pretty much be a staple for the Hawkeyes week in and week out. With a game likely to see a few turnovers, flipping the field could be the deciding factor. Going 80 yards against the Iowa defense is hard enough as is, let alone with a wet ball inside a Kinnick Stadium that will be charged up.

Iowa will force the Cyclones to drive long fields and they definitely believe very few offenses have the consistency and fundamentals to outplay their defense throughout the course of a game.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire