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Big-Ass Turkey Legs, Defense, and Punting // B1G 2019: Iowa Potluck #3

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Can a pair of new safeties keep the Hawkeyes’ secondary from crumbling against aerial attacks? Also, A.J. Epenesa is good and you just better get used to it.

AJ WANT TURKEY LEG

Iowa Week really brings out the worst in us, doesn’t it?

Not only are we staring down the barrel of another 8-4 season and wondering if there’s any point to doing this week at all, we’re stuck thinking about Gary Barta, the same old offense, wondering if Iowa’s gone as far as it can go in basketball, and even resigning ourselves to remembering Iowa players who have scored touchdowns.

It’s getting weird, guys.

So let’s get back to the bread and butter—or, rather, the high-fat, high-sodium meat—of B1G 2019, shall we? Time to take it to the streets and hit up the Hawkeyes tailgate.

Question #1: Iowa City and Tailgating

For the longest time, no phrase was more synonymous with Iowa football gamedays than “BIG ASS TURKEY LEGS!”

We’ve mentioned it here as one of the great traditions of Hawkeye football. While Chuck Ford—the man you see barking into the mic in the video above—no longer runs the business, Craig Ireland and others have continued on in the tradition, hawking (sorry) their 1.5-pound legs of tasty grilled poultry at $9 a pop for any and all gameday visitors.

Easy one, friends: Have you had an Iowa “Big Ass Turkey Leg”?

Bonus: What’s the culinary sampling you must have inside or outside your team’s stadium? Any good stories or colorful characters?

Thumpasaurus: No, but I had a Big Ass Turkey Leg at Oklahoma while watching Ryan Broyles catch three touchdowns to bury Texas Tech, blissfully unaware that in Memorial Stadium, 5-4 Illinois was having a defensive meltdown against post-Tim-Brewster-midseason-firing Minnesota on Senior Day. Good times.

Boilerman: Umm, no.

I’ll just say, when it comes to Purdue, there’s some amazing tailgating food out there. Over the years, I’ve had marinated grilled shrimp, more types of chili than I can remember, bacon-wrapped just about everything, and enough smoked meat to destroy my arteries. I can’t say much for the food inside the stadium. I don’t really sample it much. My culinary enjoyment comes from the golf course lots.

Creighton: Of course I’ve had one of Chuck’s Big Ass Turkey Legs. He had some speakers set up to make sure you could hear him up and down the block over the noise of thousands of fans. He loved to call people out individually and harass them into buying his turkey and it was hilarious. You’d hear like “Hey there Mr. Green Shirt don’t you want a-OH MY GOD your wife is way too pretty for you! Ma’am you are beautiful, I bet your husband keeps you around by getting you some BIG ASS TURKEY LEGS EVERYBODY NEEDS A BIG ASS TURKEY LEG”.

The turkey legs themselves are fine (I mean it’s a turkey leg, not prime rib) and certainly big as hell. Also there’s something oddly satisfying about wandering around Melrose Avenue in 10 degree weather wielding a giant chunk of meat like some kind of half-drunk caveman.

Beez: I have indeed had a giant turkey leg before, but I have not had a $9 Iowa Giant Turkey Leg. Who needs that many bites of the same, mostly bland flavor in a row?

BrianB2: I have had a turkey leg before, I found its size to be ample. I do not need my turkey legs to be GIANT or from IOWA in order to be satiated. Perhaps you mid-westerners have had you stomachs stretched to the point where you are now only satisfied by GIANT turkey legs, but here in Maryland we keep it classy, and enjoy all of our food in moderation. That being said, Maryland Stadium has an enormous soft pretzel covered in crab dip and melted cheese. It is pretty good, but it costs like 20 dollars, so I have only gotten it once, and I would recommend sharing it.

MNW: Fuck sharing that shit. Eat the Chessie in one sitting. By yourself. BE A MAN.

Or don’t feel the need to conform to silly, outdated ideas of masculinity proven through eating large portions of unhealthy stadium food just because you want to make a point (to whom and about what, I’m still not sure). Also, could you please invent a time machine, go back to October 2017, and tell me that I won’t poop right for 3 days if I eat an enormous soft pretzel covered in crab dip and melted cheese? His pants size grew three sizes that day...

Poll

Big Ass Turkey Leg?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Done it, loved it, would do it again.
    (37 votes)
  • 21%
    Done it, meh.
    (26 votes)
  • 12%
    No thank you.
    (15 votes)
  • 17%
    Get that hot, salty meat in my mouth ASAP.
    (21 votes)
  • 18%
    Somehow, MNW has not put me off wanting to have the Chessie.
    (22 votes)
121 votes total Vote Now

Question #2: Defense and Punting

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t remember that Iowa’s defense was...actually pretty capable in 2018? It was impressive as hell to realize that the Hawkeyes turned their opponents over at least two times a game in 10 of their 13 games, and each of their last 9, save the Nebraska victory (just 1 TO).

And, as you might expect, the Hawkeyes have a deep defensive line returning, anchored by Brady Reiff and Cedrick Lattimore up the middle and A.J. Epenesa at defensive end—Epenesa will get the treatment on the Hawkeyes D-line that made Adrian Clayborn a star and boosted the profile of Karl Klug, for example. Senior LB Kristian Welch is a stalwart in the middle of the Iowa defense, but the secondary is the place where...well, are we concerned about the Hawks’ defense in 2019?

Michael Ojemudia returns at CB with 6 passes defended and 3 intercepted in 2018, and his partner Matt Hankins has shown an ability to step up and make tackles. But the Hawkeyes lose both safeties, Jake Gervase and Tennessee Titans NFL Draft pick Amani Hooker. And that could be...problematic. Already in 2018 Purdue gave the blueprint for beating the Hawkeye secondary: Give ‘em your best NCAA ‘10, running four verts with speed at the Hawkeye secondary and keeping your QB upright long enough to get the ball there. I can think of another play that beat the Iowa defense deep down the sideline.

Dear God, this got too long: Will the Purdue Method work again in 2019? How does the Iowa defense finish, and is a strong defensive line enough to get the Hawkeyes back to 8-4?

Bonus: We have to talk about Iowa nabbing YET ANOTHER graduate transfer punter--this time Arizona State P Michael Sleep-Dalton. While MSD isn’t quite the booming leg, he’ll easily replace Colton Rastetter unless Uncle Brucie drops a few more dollars on Barta’s head. Tell us your thoughts on the transfer punter/kicker as a general idea, writers. Good, bad, or amazing?

Thumpasaurus: It all makes sense now. Brandon Peters and those USC receivers weren’t brought in to effectively transition to the future. They were instead brought in with the hopes of scoring against Iowa, something Lovie has done only once in three attempts. 63-7 will be an improvement!

But seriously, Iowa is only vulnerable against teams with strong deep passing games. Purdue and Ohio State are already there and Nebraska might be able to add that dimension, but the Big Ten still heavily emphasizes the point of attack. Iowa’s either going to give up a lot of points or keep the opponent to 10 or less.

Beez: Yes, Iowa will be vulnerable to middle/long passing attacks. Sadly, there are maybe 3 of those teams on their schedule this year (at least until the Mertz Mobile gets rolling!) The defense will still be great against running games that don’t include Jonathan Taylor, and it’ll get plenty of sacks, but any team that can throw 8+ yards against them will have room to maneuver. In the end, though, the win-loss record will still come down to how idiotic the Iowa punt coverage team is.

Creighton: Iowa will be starting a couple of classic Phil Parker guys at safety. Geno Stone is a 3-star kid who chose Iowa over a handful of offers from service academies and the Ivy League, while his counterpart at strong safety looks to be Kaevon Merriweather-- who was so lightly recruited he didn’t even have a Rivals page when Iowa sent him an offer.

I guess we don’t know much about either guy, but I’m (foolishly?) optimistic that they’ll be able to hold the line for a couple of reasons: First, Iowa is going to have a monster of a pass rush this year and I don’t think most teams are going to be able to just sit back and wait for their guys to go deep. Second, Iowa is transitioning to a 4-2-5 that’s specifically meant to counter the pass in an evolving Big Ten. Finally, Phil Parker is a wizard and I’m going to assume his safeties are at least above average until it’s proven otherwise.

Bringing in a transfer punter is an amazing idea, and not just because lol B1G but because punting is unironically very important to Iowa’s success and it’s been a huge position of need for the last couple of years. Iowa’s last grad-transfer punter was Ron Coluzzi, who single handedly beat Michigan with a series of killer punts and by drawing a huge roughing call after he botched a punt and literally did a front flip while trying to scramble for the sticks. Punting really is winning.

BrianB2: I have been very busy this week catching up after a long weekend if shotgunning Naturdays and snorting Old Bay. Thus, I have not had the time to input my crafty analysis on the state of the Iowa football program. I do apologize, as I know many of you were probably deeply looking forward to my opinion on the matter. Iowa is going to go 8-4, because they always go 8-4, and that is about all I can offer at this time.

Stew: Well, uh, Anthony Nelson is in the NFL, now. Christian Welch is probably not going to be the starting MLB, though, he’ll definitely be in the rotation. And Brady Reiff is probably also only a rotation guy, with Cedrick Lattimore likely to be the star DT. As for the secondary, it’ll be fine. Geno Stone is pretty damn good. Matt Hankins is great, and the Julius Brents is a future 2nd round pick.

Poll

The Iowa defense in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    One of the best in the B1G.
    (75 votes)
  • 36%
    Top-tier, sure, but with question marks in the secondary, not elite.
    (58 votes)
  • 14%
    Solidly mediocre.
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    A big regression means the Hawks are in trouble.
    (3 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now