Welcome to week 1 everybody!
The Opponent: Miami (OH) Redhawks
What we know:
Miami University was founded in 1809 in Oxford, Ohio. The University of Miami (the one in Florida) was founded in 1925, and after a series of hilarious, yet embarrassing misunderstandings, Miami University president Raymond Hughes decided to alleviate the confusion by adding the suffix (OH), or hydroxide, to their name in honor of their above average chemistry department. Despite being a complete afterthought historically in college football, Miami has given the football world some pretty good coaches, including Bo Schembechler, John Harbaugh and Ara Parseghian. Also, before his life turned into a series of motorcycle crashes and sexual assault allegations, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played for the Redhawks. Ben only lost one game in his final season, which gave the world this magnificent piece of television:
- Former Illinois Football Coach Ron Zook
- Benjamin Harrison, arguably our most famous president
- Stanley Cup winner Dan Boyle
- Chicago Bears ruiner Jerry Angelo
- Frequent Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! panelist P.J. O’Rourke
- Ginger from Gilligan’s Island
- The guy who created Gumby
- Nick Lachey
Players to Watch
WR Rokeem Williams: The fifth year senior brings some much needed experience to Miami’s offense, where he looks to do some serious damage using his impressive speed to chase down Desmond King after interceptions
OL Zach Hovey: Athlon Sports has the 6’4" 280 lb junior on their preseason second team All-MAC list. So yeah.
DL J.T. Jones: At just over 240 pounds, the senior from Atlanta is pretty undersized for his position, so get ready to hear him be described as a "gym rat" and having a "high motor" a lot.
LB Sean Wiggins: NFL scouts will be keeping a close eye on Sean Wiggins as he looks to have a breakthrough year. Also, I just realized that he plays for Ball State, not Miami (OH) and I was looking at the red bird logo next to his name and got confused.
What to Expect
Vegas has the spread at a hefty Iowa (-27.5). Historically I would say there’s no way Kirk Ferentz beats that spread, but of course this is "New Ferentz" we’re talking about. Last year we saw Kirk putting his foot on the gas in situations where he traditionally would have let the other team linger around in favor of "safer" playcalls.
Miami (OH) went 3-9 last year, with their 3 wins coming against Presbyterian (an FCS team), UMass (who was very recently an FCS team) and Eastern Michigan (who is worse than most FCS teams). 2015 was certainly a rebuilding year for the Redhawks offense, which started freshmen and sophomores pretty much across the board for most of the year. This means a lot of guys coming back with another year of experience and another year in the weight room. Miami will have improved significantly over last year.
Fortunately, Iowa also returns most of their starters. I expect Iowa to win this one, and unless Kirk Ferentz relapsed to some of his old habits, they should win quite easily.
What We Hope to See
Kirk Ferentz likes to use week 1 as kind of a preseason game to see what he’s got to work with for the rest of the year. With 8 true freshmen on the 2-deeps for Saturday, this is definitely still part of the plan.
Jay Scheel muscled his way past Jerminic Smith to the top of the depth chart. Hawkeye fans have been waiting a long time to see what the Iowa kid and state championship-winning quarterback can do.
Who will the second tight end be? Peter Pekar seems to have tentatively earned #2 on the depth chart. Jon Wisnieski is going to be out a few more weeks with an injury, but Noah Fant has been getting a lot of attention leading up to the season and could be seen at some point.
How good will the offensive line be? Even though ESPN seems to think Iowa will be world destroyers up front, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. There probably isn’t much to be learned from how well they block against Miami’s undersized defensive line, but I expect the Redhawks turn up the heat on blitzes since they can’t physically match up 1 on 1 with Iowa. If Iowa’s line has any major problems picking up the blitz, they’ll be exposed here.
Miami won’t be nearly as tough as NDSU will be next week, but hopefully they’re good enough to show the coaching staff places where adjustments need to be made. This won’t be the most exciting football game of the year, but hoo-boy is it good to have football back. Go Hawks.