Iowa Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Iowa Hawkeyes
Posted Aug 6, 2006

Iowa Hawkeyes Preview 2006 - Iowa Further Analysis

1st and Ten – 2004, where are you? – In some respects, don’t we all yearn a bit for the past?  A simpler, less complex time?  Sure.  Well, how about 2004?  Just two short years ago, Nick and Jessica were still happily married.  The Pistons were a team on the brink of a championship, not total implosion.  Barry Bonds was still on, oh wait, don’t go there.  Alright, sorry.  And, the Hawkeyes defensive front seven was as good as gold.  Man, those were the days.  Babineaux.  Roth.  Greenway.  Hodge.  Why can’t those days be here once again?  Well, that’s what made 2004 so special for the Hawkeyes (outside of miracle bowl game Hail Marys and a gutty QB from Texas) – a strong and deep front seven.  Contrast that year to 2005 and 2006.  Last year, the entire front four had to be replaced, while Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge remained on campus.  This year, two of the best linebackers the school has ever seen are off to collect a paycheck in the NFL, but the defensive line is left in tact.  One or the other, but never again both.  Oh, 2004, we yearn for you.  But, what last season showed was that Kirk Ferentz and his staff built up the depth of this team through recruiting and once Ken Iwebema, Mitch King, Matt Kroul and Bryan Mattison found their ‘sea legs’, so to speak, this defense was solid for the rest of the season.  But, can the same be said for the linebacking corps this season?  Edmond Miles does return after playing in the shadow created by Hodge and Greenway, and he’s a two year starter; however, the question remains as to who fills those two key spots.  The problem with replacing those two players is that to completely replace them, it’ll take three or maybe four guys due to the versatility they displayed.  Mike Klinkenborg and Mike Humpal won’t tear it up early, but they do have the stout front four in front of them, allowing them freedom to scrape to the ball easily – a luxury not afforded to other newbie linebackers.  The Hawks do have two great safeties – Miguel Merrick and Marcus Paschal – who can help out against the run, but eventually, this pair of young linebackers is going to have to make the same strides that the defensive line made last year.  Then, maybe in 2007…wait, don’t get ahead of yourself, champ.

2nd and Seven – Not so secret weapon – The name Scott Chandler was not well known throughout the 2005 season, but that was to be expected with the studs that manned the tight end position in college football last season.  But, the 6’7” Texan had a strong season, finishing with 46 catches to lead the Hawkeyes.  He became the outlet for the team’s other Texan star QB Drew Tate (they say “don’t mess with Texas”, but perhaps that’s taking it a bit too far) and should continue to be a threat all over the field, especially in the intermediate areas of the field.  Then again, he’ll have to be with the loss of perimeter threats Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon.  Herb Grigsby has some experience and could be a solid perimeter weapon, but Chandler is the guy that Tate has the rapport with, the guy who’ll definitely be the third down go-to guy.  And, with Tony Moeaki and Ryan Majerus both being able to play tight end, Chandler could perhaps morph into different roles and positions throughout the year.  Chandler gives the Hawks options, and with options come headaches for opposing defenses.

3rd and Three – Young Gun – As noted above, the 2004 season was as great a season as any Hawkeye could’ve imagined, short of going to the Rose Bowl, but the one major disappointment in that season was the lack of production at the running back position.  Well, disappointment is a strong word, but let’s just say that the Hawkeyes fell right back in love with the running game and their star Albert Young in 2005.  The Hawkeye star provided the foundation for the Hawks offense and propelled himself into the upper echelon of backs in this conference after a 1,334 yard performance.  He’s a little different from former Iowa stars.  Tackling Fred Russell was like trying to catch a four year hopped up on soda and pop rocks, in other words, pretty tough.  Ladell Betts was power personified.  Young is shiftier than Betts, but is sort of a glider, with good vision and footwork.  He runs behind his pads and will power through tackles when the situation calls for it.  Another strong season like the one he had last year and the Hawkeyes might have another dark horse Heisman candidate. 

4th and One – September 16th – If you asked any Iowa fan, there’s nothing that they’d probably want more than a Big Ten title.  This year’s road map to a Big Ten title will have a pit stop that’ll tell all of us how good this Hawkeye team is this season.  One big fat red circle around September 16th.  Don’t think that the September 16th matchup with the hated Cyclones is going to be just another game.  Just count the reasons why it won’t be.  First, the Hawks want revenge after last year’s devastating loss in Ames.  Second, the Cyclones might be the best offense the Hawks face all season, so to see such a vaunted offense this early in the season will bode well for the Hawks once Big Ten play rolls around.  Third, a win in this game more than likely means that the Hawks will be undefeated going into the Ohio State game at home.  Fourth, Iowa just doesn’t like Iowa State - it’s not Auburn-Alabama hatred, but it ain’t all that pretty, either.  September 16th – mark it, wait, you already have, right?

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