Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Overreacting to Iowa's Win Over Illinois State

I'm not gonna lie, I was super low on Iowa coming into the season. I felt like the question marks that Iowa had were huge concerns that seemed to be downplayed. The offensive tackles were reportedly the hottest, stinkiest garbage that has ever been allowed to play college football. The guards weren't all that fantastic last year, so Iowa likely had their worst offensive line since Kirk Ferentz's first season. On top of that, they needed to replace both defensive tackles, and it's not like they were overflowing with amazing talent at linebacker. I liked the secondary, I liked Tevaun Smith, I was excited for CJ Beathard, and I figured the running backs couldn't be any worse.

So when Iowa took on last year's National Championship Runner-Up (don't worry about what level), Illinois State, I was shocked by how good Iowa looked. They ended up winning the game 31-14, but had Iowa kept in the starters, they probably would have scored once or twice more, and there's a good chance that Illinois State wouldn't have scored at all. It was an impressive performance all-around.

So of course I have done a 180 and am now all-in on Iowa this year. Is this irrational? Of course it is, but I can totally justify it. The tackles, whch were my biggest concern had no issues with Illiniois State's pass rush. Some of those guys were big recruits before transferring out to a smaller school? Does that mean they likely weren't all that good? Yes, but they at east have impressive physical attributes, and Iowa's tackles withstood that, which is more than I expected. I honestly expected a bloodbath in every game, but I am happy to say that I was very wrong.

The offense truly shocked me with how good they looked. Beathard definitely didn't disappoint as he made smart decisions and carved up a defense that was overmatched. The running backs were the true shining stars as LeShun Daniels tore it up on the ground, and Jordan Canzeri tore it up as a receiver. The offensive line took care of business in the running and passing games, which means the only mild concern so far is that the tight ends were a total non-factor, but that's being pretty nitpicky about things.

And defensively, the defensive line shined the brightest as Drew Ott was a monster and Jaleel Johnson showed that he is more than ready to make an impact as a starter. The secondary played very well, as Greg Mabin was making plays in both the running and passing games, while Desmond King is one of the best corners in the conference. And Josey Jewell led a solid effort from the linebackers as he was able to diagnose plays and attack the runners. Illinois State has some legitimate threats on offense, and Iowa absolutely overwhelmed them on that side of the ball.

And it's not like Iowa's schedule is all that difficult. To demonstrate how soft it is, let's just do a quick power rankings of Iowa's opponents from how they looked in week one.

1. Northwestern
2. Illinois
3. Maryland
4. Iowa State
5. Minnesota
6. Pitt
7. Indiana
8. Nebraska
9. Wisconsin
10. Texas State
11. Purdue

Yeah, that is seriously their schedule. I mean, judging by how these teams looked in week one, this might be the easiest schedule in the nation. I'm not sure what is most laughable about this, Northwestern at 1, Illinois at 2, or Iowa State at 4, but that's a pretty accurate portrayal of how these teams performed in their first game. It's not like Iowa couldn't beat any of these teams.

Every year, I go into the Iowa football season with way too much optimism, always seeing how things could break right. I inevitably end up disappointed. But this year, I was skeptical going into the year, so maybe this is the year that they shock me and the rest of the world and actually put together a great season.

Either that, or I just waited one week to get my hopes way too high only to see Iowa shit the bed against Iowa State. 


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