Stanley has been showing a deep threat ability with long throws of 45 and 58 so far this season, do you expect these types of throws to stick up against Iowa State’s secondary?
Stanley has long been criticized for his struggles connecting on the deep ball, but has looked much better in that regard this season. He’s still missing on occasion, but the most important thing is the offense is taking the shots. For a team like Iowa that everyone knows is looking to run first, the threat of going deep is critical in keeping defenses from stacking the box. Iowa State’s secondary will certainly be the biggest test the Hawkeyes have seen this year so that will be a matchup to watch. But Ihmir Smith-Marsette has as good of speed on the outside as just about anyone the Cyclones will face all year. Stanley may not connect on any deep passes to him, but he’ll be open downfield on a number of occasions. If not, you can expect to see a lot of laundry on the field.
In the past, Iowa teams generally have one running back that stands above the rest (i.e. Akrum Wadley, James Daniel, Jordan Canzeri,) but last year and this year it’s been more of a running back by committee. Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young, and Tyler Goodson have all had similar carries. Do you expect this to continue on Saturday, or will one of these guys stand out against tougher competition?
Unlike a number of prior years, Iowa has the luxury of a number of solid options out of the backfield this year. The carries have been split fairly evenly so far, but that’s not an indication of equal footing for those three backs.
Mekhi Sargent is the lead back and he’ll get work on all three downs. He doesn’t have breakaway speed and he isn’t going to single-handedly win the game with his video game moves like Akrum Wadley, but he’s versatile, can catch the ball out of the backfield and is excellent in blitz pickup.
Toren Young is the hammer. He’s far and away the biggest back of the four you’re likely to see Saturday, but what has Iowa fans excited about him this season is he seems to have added a bit more burst from last year. Brian Ferentz has also utilized both Sargent and Young on the field together a decent amount this year, even lining Young up as a fullback.
As for Goodson, he’s the most dynamic back Iowa has and is the reason Jirehl Brock isn’t a Hawkeye. He has a gear nobody else in the backfield has and is as close as Iowa is likely to get to Wadley in terms of slipperiness out of the backfield. He’s still young so I wouldn’t expect him to get a ton of work unless things get out of hand, but when he’s on the field he’s a threat to take it to the house.
The fourth back you’re likely to see on a handful of snaps Saturday is Ivory Kelly-Martin. He was Iowa’s starter going into last year but missed time due to injury. Now he’s been passed up but is every bit as capable as he was a season ago.
Does Iowa still have their punting robot? If so, which son would Kirk trade to have the robot as his son?
Considering the punting robot is actually a QB and punting robot, the clear answer is all of them.
There are at least two hyphenated names in the starting lineups, what can you say about their talents and what they will bring to the Kentucky bluegrass?
Kirk Ferentz has been critical of Ihmir Smith-Marsette the last few years, but this year seems to be different. He’s been singing his praises and through two weeks, he seems to have been right. ISM has 3 TDs in two games and is clearly Iowa’s biggest deep threat in the passing game. As big as his role will be on offense, his best contribution is likely to be in the return game. ISM was a pre-season All-American as a kick returner after averaging just under 30-yards per return last year when he was the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. The other starting hyphen is grad transfer punter Michael Sleep-Dalton. He’s an ambidextrous Aussie who is averaging 46 yards per punt so far this season. He’s been a vast improvement in the punting game compared to a season ago.
Speaking of grass, the Hawkeyes don’t play on grass? What kind of high school bullshit is this?
As has been widely covered in Eastern Iowa, the Hawkeyes replaced their turf this offseason with a new product that is supposed to hold up better to substantial rains and put off less heat. Though both Kinnick and the indoor practice facility are turf, Iowa does have grass practice fields they utilize for the few opponents they face that still have natural surfaces.
Alaric Jackson and perhaps even Cole Banwart could be out for Saturday’s game, what does this mean for both Iowa’s offense and Iowa State’s defense?
Don’t bank on Banwart being out as he was finally listed on the depth chart this week for the first time all season, but losing Alaric Jackson is a major blow. He has been projecting as a late first round guy and despite the immense talent of Tristan Wirfs, is Iowa’s best pass blocker. In his absence, the Hawkeyes have moved Wirfs, who himself projects into the front half of the first round, to LT and inserted walk-on Kyler Schott at right guard, sliding Levi Paulsen our to RT. That combination was effective against Rutgers, but how they handle Iowa State’s defensive line will be something we’ll all be paying close attention to.
A.J. Epenesa is a name we all know on the defense, but, is there someone else (ok you can’t use Ojemudia either) Cyclone fans should know about?
I think most Hawkeye fans are waiting for fellow defensive end Chauncey Golston to have his breakout game in 2019. He was very good a season ago and has benefited from all the double teams, chips and sliding protections AJE has warranted this year in the form of one-on-one matchups off the edge. Thus far, he hasn’t done much with that. But the name that may be integral this weekend is Daviyon Nixon. He’s a big-bodied DT with loads of explosiveness. When he’s in with AJE, it’s a problem for offensive lines as neither can be blocked with one person. Look for him to be disruptive in the run game and have a QB hurry or two from the middle of the defense.
What was your first experience in this rivalry series?
Long ago, I was friends with a kid who’s entire family were ISU alumni and fans. My earliest experience was watching the game with them and rooting against them because that’s what kids do. I didn’t really get into the rivalry until high school, when I started taking a much more serious interest in football. That only intensified as an Iowa student and now as an alum and Iowa City resident.
Will you be in attendance Saturday?
Don’t think so, unfortunately. We’ve got a newborn at home that makes getting away for the day/weekend difficult at the moment.
Finally, what is your prediction for Saturday?
Obviously I think this one’s going to be a close one. The line has moved slightly in Iowa’s favor, but with the atmosphere and energy I expect to be in Jack Trice I think it’s a toss up. Both teams have excellent defenses so naturally I’m saying Iowa wins a shootout.
Iowa 35, Iowa State 34