2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 33 Iowa Hawkeyes
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Iowa Hawkeyes
No. 34: Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa Hawkeyes Prespring Status
The offense didn’t really work, the explosion wasn’t there when needed, and the defense melted down at a few odd times, but it wasn’t all that bad a follow up to the fantastic 2016 season. The blowout loss to Florida in the bowl was ugly, losing to North Dakota State at home – as good as the Bison were – was embarrassing, and Penn State rolled at will, but 8-5 was solid considering all the offensive issues.
This year’s team has massive changes in the coaching staff, with Brian Ferentz now serving as his dad Kirk’s offensive coordinator, and there’s a shakeup among a few of the position spots to try generating more pop. QB C.J. Beathard is gone along with top RB LeShun Daniels – five offensive starters are done in all. The defense gets back seven starters, helped by LB Josey Jewell coming back for his senior year, but …
Iowa Hawkeyes Biggest Issue
The nation’s 23rd-best defense has to replace a few irreplaceable stars. Desmond King has been one of the nation’s top corners over the last few seasons, and while he wasn’t at the Thorpe Award level of 2015, he was still terrific. Hurting even more is the departure of Jaleel Johnson off the line, along with interior linemate Faith Ekakitie. Iowa always comes up with disruptive stars up front, but Johnson was one of the Big Ten’s best. Fortunately …
Iowa Hawkeyes Biggest Positive
That 23rd-best defense gets back just about everyone else. Jewell’s return – he led the team with 124 stops – is a giant help, and now the top four tacklers are back. Nine of the top 13 tacklers return, with a linebacking corps that should be among the Big Ten’s most effective. Jewell, Ben Niemann, and Bo Bower form an excellent trio.
Really, Why Are The Iowa Hawkeyes Ranked Here?
Will the changes in the coaching staff make a difference? The offense was the seventh-worst in the nation yardage production, and now the Hawkeyes have to be better without Beathard, Daniels, and leading receiver Riley McCarron and TE George Kittle? The defense should be stellar again, but where’s the firepower? It could be the biggest key to the Big Ten West season.