Iowa College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Iowa Biggest Key: Offense
The downfield passing game has to show up. That’s not going to be easy with the Hawkeyes needing to unearth a few deep threat options and with top targets Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith done, but stretching the field is a must.
QB Spencer Petras has the arm, and the O line will get him time to work, but averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt and 11.2 yards per catch isn’t okay. At the very least, Iowa has to hit the third down throws – the team was the second-worst in the Big Ten in third down conversions.
There’s no need to bomb away to win, but Iowa lost its first two games last year when the O couldn’t do anything down the field and got one touchdown pass and three picks. Over the last six games, Iowa threw eight touchdown passes with just two picks with a more effective attack.
Iowa Biggest Key: Defense
To be very, very, very nitpicky, do a better job of coming up with third down stops.
The defense should be great. The pass rush was and is fine, the team was great at not breaking when bending, and the run defense has been awesome over the last several years against everyone but Wisconsin, and last year it stuffed the Badgers cold.
There might not be a whole lot of superstar power on this defense, but it’s going to be rock-solid sound across the board – now get off the field.
The 2012 Hawkeye defense allowed teams to convert 43% of their third down conversions. All of the defenses in the seven seasons following that finished the season keeping the conversion rate under 40%.
The 2020 defense allowed 40.3% conversions on third downs. It wasn’t that big a problem against anyone but Northwestern, and as it turned out, that was the game that decided the Big Ten West.
Iowa Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Spencer Petras, Jr.
There was a bit of a buzz as he got a few years to get his feet wet before taking over the reins in 2020, and he was just okay. In eight games he only threw nine touchdown passes, hit just 57% of his throws, and he wasn’t consistent enough at keeping the offense moving. With a rebuilding receiving corps, he has to use his experience and skills to make everyone around him better.
Iowa Key Game To The 2021 Season
Indiana, Sept. 4
It’s statement time to start the season with Indiana coming to Iowa City in the Big Ten/2021 opener. There’s going to be a whole lot of hype around a Hoosier team loaded with veterans, and the Hawkeyes can show right away that they’re the ones to get excited over with a solid win.
After IU comes the showdown at Iowa State. Start the year 2-0, and 5-0 is possible with Kent State, Colorado State, and at Maryland to follow before facing Penn State.
2020 Iowa Fun Stats
– Rushing Yards Per Game: Iowa 171 – Opponents 108
– 4th Down Conversions: Iowa 6-of-9 (67%) – Opponents 8-of-16 (50%)
– Sacks: Iowa 22 for 153 yards – Opponents 11 for 74 yards