Welcome to our 2023 Iowa State football position previews, where we’ll be spending the next two weeks previewing each position group for the 2023 team. This week will be the offense, and next week will be defense. Today we’re starting with the quarterbacks, which is sure to be a heavily discussed position group for the next few weeks.
Obviously, the elephant in the room here is the temporary and presumably permanent departure of Hunter Dekkers. The starter from a season ago has been accused been charged by the Story County Attorney’s office in connection with the gambling probe that has looked into Iowa State and Iowa this summer. Dekkers started every game a season ago throwing for 3,044 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
JJ Kohl, the son of former Iowa State kicker Jamie Kohl found his way to Ames after being a highly touted recruit out of Ankeny that saw high-level programs from across the country vie for his services. While Kohl may have had some time to learn for a season, he’s now been thrust into a quarterback competition this fall thanks to Dekkers’ departure.
Butte College product Tanner Hughes is likely the third-stringer at this point, but rumors around camp are that he may be involved in a few running packages. Hughes spent two seasons at Butte College. In his first year, he completed just 10 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions during his first season. This past season, Hughes completed 143 passes for 2,193 yards and 23 touchdowns, while only throwing three interceptions.
Leader Of The Pack
You can assume that Rocco Becht has the leg up here since he played in a few games a season ago, but competition can bring out the best and worst in some. Becht threw for just 65 yards and one interception in limited action a season ago. Word out of camp is Becht and Kohl have been splitting reps with the first team as well as working together to get better as they have more reps. I would not be surprised to see Becht get the nod in game one and eventually shift to Kohl being the starter as the season goes on. Nothing against Becht, but I think the long-term upside for this team rides on the talent of JJ Kohl.
It’s hard to pinpoint a prediction for this Iowa State quarterback group. We just don’t know enough about these guys and how they play at the college level. All we know is this staff is extremely pleased with their progress and what they have even without Dekkers. I think we are going to see an offense much like much like 2017 when things were scaled back to fit Kyle Kempt. It wasn’t high-flying and explosive but it was extremely effective. Should be interesting to see how it shakes out in game one against UNI.