The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Iowa Hawkeyes.
No. 30: Iowa Hawkeyes
Spring Practice Starts: March 22
Spring Game: April 20
Iowa Hawkeyes Spring Status
Yes, Iowa was able to win a bowl game and not end the season in embarrassing fashion, and blowing up Ohio State wasn’t without its charm, but it was a second-straight 8-5 season. That’s good, but after coming so close to the College Football Playoff in 2015, it would be nice to get back in the Big Ten title chase.
It’s going to be tough, though.
The defense has to undergo an overhaul at linebacker and loses an NFL starting corner in Josh Jackson. The offensive side has to replace four starters up front, needs new running back options with Akrum Wadley gone, and it has to be better.
How could an O that hung up 55 on Ohio State and 56 against Nebraska fail to score 20 points in the other six Big Ten games? Finding the offensive consistency is a must.
Iowa Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Linebacker. Yikes. Iowa didn’t just lose starters, it lost heart-and-soul types with Josey Jewell, Bo Bower and Ben Niemann all gone after going 1-2-3 in tackles. These three were ironmen – there just wasn’t a whole lot of rotating going on. The next-most productive linebacker last year came up with nine stops.
Iowa Biggest Issue
The offense has to start moving the ball. The fumbles have to stop after giving it up 13 times, but overall the O has to get a jumpstart. The offense only averaged 329.5 yards per game, couldn’t convert on enough third down tries, and struggled to get first downs. And now the attack has to be better without Wadley and with four new starters up front.
Iowa Biggest Positive
They have the quarterback. The Hawkeyes need receivers to step up, and again, the line has to be there to give everyone time, but they have a fringe-NFL talent in Nate Stanley coming off a solid year.
He only completed 56% of his passes, but he limited the mistakes with just six picks with 26 touchdown passes. He has to move the chains, and the O needs to move the ball more, but at least the key piece is there.
Really, Why Are The Iowa Hawkeyes Ranked Here?
Kirk Ferentz and his staff will figure it out.
The Iowa linebackers always seem to rise up and shine no matter who they plug in, and the system always cranks up the offensive linemen, but it’s going to take a lot of work this offseason in an improved division.