HawkeyeInsider Mailbag 8/23/15

HawkeyeInsider will run a weekly mailbag that will release every sunday, answering any Iowa Hawkeyes' fans questions posed throughout the week. Insider Derek Young will share his wealth of knowledge with all users of the site.

WHAT DO THE MATCHUPS OF OUR OFFENSIVE LINE AND ILLINOIS STATE'S DEFENSIVE LINE LOOK LIKE? ARE WE GOING TO GET A CHANCE TO GROW THERE OR ARE WE GOING TO BE TESTED AT TACKLE RIGHT OUT OF THE GATES? - borgy

DY: As many know, Illinois State isn't the average FCS team and have had a lot of success at that level. However, they don't have a lot of experience on the defensive line. Outside of two guys, the entire position group is composed of freshmen and sophomores. The two that aren't are seniors Adam Pittser and David Perkins. Of note, though, is that David Perkins is an converted outside linebacker that began his career at Ohio State before having to transfer because of some run-ins with the law. 

Also, former Hawkeye Reggie Spearman is listed as an outside linebacker and adds even more of a storyline to the contest. 

PLEASE TELL ME THIS OFFENSE IS GOING TO BE TOTALLY EXPLOSIVE AND SURPRISE EVERYONE. - hawkchaser

DY: I can't tell you what the offense is going to look like with 100 percent conviction. What I can tell you is that it was a balance of underneath, intermediate, and down-field throws in the scrimmage we saw. They have to have protection up front to be able to attack, but they feel comfortable they have the quarterback to do so. 

ARE THE LINEBACKERS GOING TO KILL US THIS YEAR AGAIN OR HAVE THEY LEARNED THE GAME YET? - hawkchaser 

DY: Bo Bower has had a heck of a fall camp from what I've seen. He's a very active player in the front seven. Josey Jewell has made strides. Ben Niemann has been the third guy in a lot of cases, and will need to be better. They may have some solid veteran depth in guys like Cole Fisher and Travis Perry.

WE READ LAST WEEK THAT WIEGERS MAY HAVE LOOKED BETTER THAN BEATHARD. IS THIS REALLY A BATTLE OR DEFINITELY C.J'S JOB? - Retired

DY: Wiegers had a good scrimmage, no question about it. But he also was the beneficiary of having more time in the pocket than Beathard which contributed to the success. This is C.J.'s job, no question. 

NOT SURE HOW MANY OF IOWA'S GAMES YOU SAW LAST YEAR, BUT I WANT TO KNOW HOW IOWA LOOKS DIFFERENT FROM LAST YEAR.? - lumuhawk

DY: To me, there's more talent and speed in the backfield, first of all. They have a few guys able to extend plays at running back. The offensive line isn't as good, but they seem determined to want to take chances down field if the protection allows for it. I think the defense will be a strength, but the interior of the defensive line needs to continue to develop.

HEARING SOME INFO THAT CROSTON WAS PRACTICING WITH THE ONES AT OFFENSIVE TACKLE AND MYERS WAS PRACTICING WITH THE TWOS LAST NIGHT. CAN YOU CONFIRM, AND IF SO, DO YOU THINK IT'S LIKELY THAT HE WILL STAY THERE? - jshawks

DY: Cole Croston was seen playing left tackle with the first unit at times in the past week. They've been tinkering with the whole unit, trying to find the best combination and I'm not sure they have one they're 100 percent confident in just yet. I think the starting five, left to right on the offensive line, is anyone's guess. The only certainties will be that Blythe will be at center and Walsh will man one of the guard spots.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LINEBACKER THIS YEAR? WHO DO YOU THINK WILL STAND OUT THE MOST? DO YOU THINK SOMEBODY LIKE COLE FISHER, AARON MENDS, OR SOMEBODY ELSE WILL BREAK OUT THIS SEASON AND TAKE A STARTING SPOT LIKE BO BOWER DID LAST YEAR? WILL THE LACK OF SIZE BE MADE UP IN ATHLETICISM? - labBlazers39

DY: Already mentioned this a bit, but I think Bo Bower emerges as the top linebacker on the team, and probably by a wide margin. If Fisher and Perry haven't broke out yet, I'm not sure that they will now, but they could provide the veteran depth that is integral to a team's success. Aaron Mends would be the candidate to break out, but I don't see that happening until later on in the year if it does.

WHO ARE YOUNGERS GUYS, TRUE FRESHMEN OR REDSHIRT FRESHMEN, THAT WILL MAKE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON THIS YEAR'S SQUAD? WILL ANY OF THEM BREAK THE TWO DEEP? - BiRDS

DY: Determining who will make an impact is a tough call to predict, but I think wideouts Jerminic Smith and Jay Scheel, linebacker Aaron Mends, safety Brandon Snyder, offensive lineman James Daniels, and defensive end Terrance Harris all have a chance to break the two-deep. 

DEREK, GIVE US ONE NAME THAT HASN'T BEEN THROWN OUT THAT YOU SEE AS A SURPRISE CONTRIBUTOR THIS FALL. - OkieviaIowa

DY: A few guys I could go with here but I'll say one on each side of the ball. How about George Kittle at tight end and Jaleel Johnson at defensive tackle? Both have flashed at times in practices. 

GIVEN IOWA'S AND KIRK FERENTZ'S SUCCESS WITH OFFENSIVE LINEMEN, WHY DOES IOWA NOT GET A MORE CONSISTENT STREAM OF FOUR AND FIVE STAR LINEMEN OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL? - UncleRicoLovesIowa

DY: It's a great question and I'm not sure there's a clear answer. It kind of goes back to the fact that the recruiting calendar is sped up and earlier visits are imperative to landing a prospect. Because of geography, visiting Iowa on their own dime can be difficult. Results on the field can help here as well. 

WILL OUR LINEBACKERS' LACK OF ATHLETICISM BE MADE UP WITH SIZE? - PostHaste

DY: From a sheer athleticism standpoint, the top two I have recognized so far are Bo Bower and Aaron Mends. That is why I expect Bower to have a big year and for Mends to possibly emerge as the season goes on. He doesn't have it all figured out yet, but when that catches up to his athletic ability, look out. Lack of speed or inferior athleticism can be made up with better instincts and better understanding of what is happening, and that's what could aid Jewell and Niemann as they gain more experience. 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON C.J. HILLIARD LEAVING? - laBlazers39

I think it was best for both parties. Iowa seemingly wasn't all that optimistic about his potential to have much of an impact, symbolized by them not even inviting him to fall camp. He doesn't want to be that buried on the depth chart, and wants to play, so restarting elsewhere was his best option. 

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, WHO DO YOU THINK OUR STARTING OFFENSIVE LINE WILL CONSIST OF WEEK 1?

DY: Man, this is a crap shoot with how much shuffling has been done thus far. I still tend to think Boone Myers, Jordan Walsh, Austin Blythe, Sean Welsh, and Ike Boettger is who gets trotted out there on the opening snap against Illinois State. However, the leash may be short for a few guys. 


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