2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Iowa Offense
It’s time to get that running game going again. The 2016 Hawkeyes had two 1,000-yard rushers – Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels – for an O that made hitting the 2,000-yard rushing mark the norm after struggling in 2012.
The 2018 ground game was better than the 2017 version, but it still failed to average four yards per carry and finished with just 1,929 yards.
The offensive line was the best in the Big Ten in pass protection, but it couldn’t consistently pound away. When Iowa hit the 200-yard mark on the ground, though, it won, going 5-0 when it got there. Over the last four years, Iowa is 19-0 when running for 200.
Biggest Key To The Iowa Defense
The defensive tackles have to rise up and rock. There isn’t a whole lot of concern – the ends are more than big enough – and the Hawkeye tackles are always solid, but they all have to be amazing.
Matt Nelson and Sam Brincks were solid veteran producers with size for the great run D. Nelson went 6-8 and 295 pounds, and Brincks was 6-5 and 265 pounds. Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff are experienced, but they’re also smaller.
Lattimore and Reiff are each around 6-3, and there’s not a whole lot of bulk behind them other than 6-3, 306-pound Daviyon Nixon. If this group rocks, it’ll be another amazing year for the Hawkeye defense.
Key Player To A Successful Season
PK Caleb Shudak, Jr.
Or junior Keith Duncan. Shudak hit an extra point last season, but he didn’t attempt a field goal with Miguel Recinos hitting 17-of-22 field goal tries.
As the season went on, Iowa played tighter and tighter games with five of the last six decided by six points or fewer. During that stretch, Recinos wasn’t perfect – hitting 7-of-9 – but he was good enough.
In a tighter Big Ten West, and with a whole lot of nasty games, one field goal might be the difference between a good season and a special one.
Key Game To The Iowa Season
at Wisconsin, Nov. 9
The Hawkeyes have to face tough game after tough game during a run of eight straight games against teams that went bowling. In division play, there’s a date at Nebraska to close things out and a trip to Northwestern, but forget about winning the West without beating the Badgers in Madison.
Iowa has lost three straight in the series – and six of the last seven – but when it was able to come up with a special defensive performance in 2015, it pulled out a 10-6 victory on the way to an amazing 12-0 regular season with a trip to the Big Ten Championship.
– Iowa Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Iowa Fun Stats
– Sacks: Iowa 35 for 236 yards – Opponents 16 for 100 yards
– 4th Down Conversions: Iowa 17-of-25 (68%) – Opponents 11-of-25 (44%)
– Iowa 1st Quarter Scoring: 71 – Iowa 2nd Quarter Scoring: 135