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Iowa 2017 Cocktail Party

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Iowa Hawkeyes: Now made with less Greg Davis!

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Iowa week 2017. Together we’ll laugh, we’ll cry and we’ll lob super personal insults at each other in the comment sections. Welcome to Iowa week. You’re welcome.

About Last Year

Iowa finished 8-5 (6-3) last year in a season of exceptional highs and soul crushing lows. The defense and special teams were frequently called upon to bail out an anemic offense. In other words: business as usual.

The low points include an embarrassing loss to North Dakota State, an even more embarrassing victory over Rutgers by a mere 7 points, and blowout losses against Penn State and Florida in the Outback Bowl.

On the other hand, Iowa completely dismantled rivals Iowa State and Nebraska by a combined score of 82-13, kept Floyd of Rosedale in Iowa City, and handed #2 Michigan its first loss on a walk off field goal under the lights.

Offense

Iowa’s offense in 2017 is going to have to be Macgyvered together by duct tape, bubble gum and hopefully a little bit of luck.

Greg Davis retired in the offseason (I smile every time I say that) and OL coach/run game coordinator/coach’s son Brian Ferentz was promptly named his successor. He has a few years of being mentored by Bill Belichick and Kirk Ferentz under his belt, but he’s never had play calling duties before and nobody really knows what to expect. Luckily, after 5 years of watching Greg Davis run the show he’s got an impossibly low bar to clear to gain favor among the fans.

Nathan Stanley is the likely choice to replace CJ Beathard at quarterback. He looked pretty good in limited action last year, but he’s an untested sophomore who will have a new offensive coordinator and a steep learning curve.

Not helping matters is the wide receiver position. The offseason saw Jerminic Smith and Roland Nash leave the program and Jay Scheel retire due to medical concerns. Matt Vandeberg has the potential to be special after receiving a medical hardship waiver after breaking his foot last year, but he re-injured his foot in march and will be playing catch up when he finally gets healthy.

You’ll probably see Nick Easley, Adrian “The Falconer” Falconer and Devonte Young out there a lot, but I’d expect to see a lot of passes headed towards the tight ends and running back Akrum Wadley. Speaking of....

Akrum “The Dread Lobster” Wadley is our safe space. Our happy place. Our sanctuary. Akrum ran for over 1,000 yards last season with a 6.4 yd average. After briefly flirting with the NFL he decided to return to Iowa City for his senior season.

Here he is exposing Jabrill Peppers as a complete fraud and making Michigan look like garbage:

Here he is embarrassing Michigan again (Peppers had terrible positioning and took himself out of the play here):

And for good measure here is the Dread Lobster one more time, opening the floodgates against Nebraska:

Defense

Anchoring the Iowa defense is Josey Jewell. I’ll pause while you guys race to post the Christian McCaffrey gif in the comments. Done? Ok let’s continue.

Moving on. Josey Jewell is potentially an NFL caliber Mike linebacker. Alongside him at the Will and Sam positions are fellow seniors Bo Bower and Ben Niemann. Despite struggling in a few games last year, particularly in pass coverage, this is a very experienced group and I expect the linebackers to be a strength in this defense.

Moving up to the defensive line, Iowa lost a couple of heavy hitters to graduation in Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakite. They still bring back a lot of game experience and we’ll likely see a rotation of names like Parker Hesse, Nathan Bazata, Brady Reiff, Cedrick Lattimore, Anthony Nelson and Matt Nelson coming through the front four.

In the secondary, Iowa suffered a major blow in April when safety Brandon Snyder tore his ACL. Replacing the great Desmond King is Manny Rugamba, who was a hero against Michigan last year and will be very exciting to watch. I expect the other cornerback to be Joshua Jackson, who I only bring up so I can propose we give him the nickname “The Mighty Duck”.

Special Teams

Kicker Keith Duncan (Not to be confused with his linemate Seabrook Brent) returns next year and will likely be the full time kicker.

Punter Ron Coluzzi graduated last year and I can say without a speck of irony that he was one of my all time favorite Hawkeyes on and off the field. We all know that the most important player on Iowa’s sideline is the punter, and Colten Rastetter has some big shoes to fill.

Coaching

With Bob Stoops’ retirement, Kirk Ferentz is now the longest tenured active coach in FBS. After last season Kirk parted ways with Greg Davis, Chris White and Bobby Kennedy in a terrific example of addition by subtraction.

Besides promoting Brian Ferentz, the only other major coaching change was bringing back Kirk’s long time offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe as quarterbacks coach. KoK is a natural fit for the program who will help Brian Ferentz (who he used to coach) transition into his new role.

Iowa 2017 Schedule

Date Opponent
Date Opponent
Sept. 2 Wyoming
Sept. 9 at Iowa State
Sept. 16 North Texas
Sept. 23 Penn State
Sept. 30 at Michigan State
Oct. 7 Illinois
Oct. 21 at Northwestern
Oct. 28 Minnesota
Nov. 4 Ohio State
Nov. 11 at Wisconsin
Nov. 18 Purdue
Nov. 24 at Nebraska

When talking to an Iowa Fan, don’t mention:

North Dakota state, the last time we won a bowl game, Sweet Caroline, Greg Davis, Christian McCaffrey, where Ames is on a map, Gary Barta, playing games west of the Rocky Mountains, player attrition or that one time we lost a coach to a Culver’s franchise.

Do Mention:

Floyd! The Dread Lobster, Hayden Fry’s coaching tree, Kirk Ferentz’s record against Michigan, the beer supply in heaven, RAGBRAI, CJ Beathard’s 4 year deal with the 49ers, and Toppling Goliath Brewing. Love it or leave it.