College Football News Preview 2020: Iowa Hawkeyes Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Iowa Hawkeyes Offense
Start making more of the birdie putts instead of settling for pars.
The biggest key early on will be to crank up more downfield plays with the passing game. That will come in time – Spencer Petras has a serious arm, and this is the best Iowa receiving corps in a long, long time. Overall, though, it’s time to get more touchdowns when venturing into the red zone.
Helped by the kicking of Keith Duncan, the Hawkeyes were amazing when they got inside the 20, finishing fourth in the nation in red zone conversions hitting 40-of-42. The only problem was that 15 of the 40 were field goals, and 15 of the touchdowns came in three games.
However, when the team came up with the touchdowns, the O had its three biggest point total games of the year in easy wins over Miami University, Middle Tennessee and USC.
There was one trip inside the 20 in the 10-3 loss to Michigan – the team came away with a field goal. There were two trips against Penn State – both were field goals in the 17-12 loss.
The Nebraska game was the only other game without a touchdown from inside the 20, and that turned into a fight until the finish.
Over the last five years, Iowa is 23-1 when it scores three or more touchdowns when getting into the red zone.
Biggest Key To The Iowa Hawkeyes Defense
Be a whole lot better on third down conversions.
This all falls under the formula that Iowa needs to get right for it all to work. If it’s not going to be a 40-point-per-game team, and it’s going to rely on great defense, coaching, and special teams to take over most games, it has to do all of the little things right.
This year, with the revamped D, getting off the field matters more than ever.
Overall the Iowa defense was great, and it will be again after the new starters come into place, but when it couldn’t stop long marches, there was a problem.
In 2014, Iowa lost to Wisconsin 26-24 after allowing the Badger O to convert on 54% of their third down tries. That was the last time the Hawkeyes D allowed anyone to convert more than 50% of their attempts before Penn State converted on 53% of its chances in the 17-12 victory in mid-October of last season.
A few weeks later, Wisconsin hammered away for over 57% of its third down tries in a 24-22 win.
By the way, the Hawkeyes are 1-8 over the last eight years when allowing teams to convert more than half of their third down chances.
Key Iowa Hawkeyes Player To A Successful Season
LB Jack Campbell, Soph.
Kristian Welch was an all-star linebacker in the middle of one of the nation’s best run defenses last year. He led the team with 87 tackles with three sacks and nine tackles for loss.
He graduated, but Dillon Doyle was ready to go after making 23 stops as a nice backup in his year as the apprentice. He left for Baylor.
Now it’s likely up to Campbell, a 6-5, 218-pound sophomore to either step up and shine in the middle, or use his size and range on the outside while someone else takes over on the inside.
There’s a ton of upside and athleticism, but he only made five tackles last year. Now he has to make a thin linebacking group a whole lot stronger behind a line that’s undergoing an overhaul, too.
Key Game To The Iowa Hawkeyes Season
at Minnesota, Sept. 18
The Hawkeyes kept the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy last year – handing Minnesota one it its two losses on the year – with a fifth-straight victory in the series and the seventh in the last eight.
The home showdown against Wisconsin in the regular season finale might mean everything, but lose to the Gophers in the Big Ten opener on the road, and with Michigan State, at Ohio State, and at Penn State up next in conference play … uh oh.
– Iowa Hawkeyes Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Iowa Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Iowa 90 – Opponents 34
– Red Zone Scores: Iowa 40-of-42 (95%) – Opponents 23-of-29 (79%)
– Fumbles: Opponents 15 (lost 9) – Opponents 9 (lost 5)