Pivotal year for football


What to Know:

Although it had what looked like a favorable schedule on paper, the Iowa football team clawed its way to a 7-6 record in 2014, capped by a 45-28 loss at the hands of Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Although the Hawkeyes went 8-5 the previous season, some fans are getting antsy; Iowa’s last Big Ten title came in 2004, when the Hawkeyes shared it with Michigan.

The program’s last big accomplishment came in 2010 in an Orange Bowl win over Georgia Tech. Because it’s been four seasons since that win, such words as “stale” and “stagnant” are being heard more and more from Iowa fans.

Whom to know:

Junior quarterback C.J. Beathard is expected to be Iowa’s full-time starter this season after two-year starter Jake Rudock chose to play his final season of eligibility at Michigan after graduating in May.

Although Rudock got the majority of the playing time and started all but one game, the Hawkeyes seemingly couldn’t pick a quarterback all of last season and decided to go with Beathard in the bowl game. 

The team’s head coach is Kirk Ferentz, who has been at the helm of the squad since 1999.

Other notable players include running backs Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels, Jr., offensive lineman Austin Blythe, wide receiver Tevaun Smith, and tight end Jake Duzey, who will miss the beginning of the season because of an injury.

On the defensive side of the ball, Nate Meier and Drew Ott could be one of the better defensive-end combinations in the Big Ten. Three sophomore linebackers — Bo Bower, Ben Niemann, and Josey Jewell — will likely be the No. 1s when the season begins on Sept. 5 in Kinnick. Jordan Lomax and Desmond King are the leaders of the defensive backfield.

Looking ahead: 

This season should tell a lot about the football program. The 2014 squad was young, which played a role in the regression from the year before. This season should serve as a good litmus test showing us where the Hawks match up against the rest of the Big Ten. 

Put simply, we’ll find out if last year was an overreaction or if Ferentz and Company really are tumbling downhill.

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