Iowa is set to kickoff the season at 11 p.m. CST on Saturday against Illinois State. Yes, the football season is just three days away. Get excited.
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, they'll be challenged immediately. Illinois State is a potent FCS program, a national runner-up a year ago.
What is there to worry about on the Redbird offense? Two guys come to mind immediately and that is quarterback Tre Roberson and running back Marshaun Coprich.
In 15 games last year, Roberson compiled over 3,000 yards passing and over 1,000 yards rushing with over 40 total touchdowns. Coprich ran for over 2,000 yards and over 30 scores on the ground. Needless to say, they're explosive offensive weapons are back. And with a defense that had a tendency to allow explosive and big plays a season ago, there is cause for concern amongst the Iowa faithful.
However, Illinois State is not without their share of weaknesses. They basically have an entirely new wide receiver group for Roberson. He'll have to develop chemistry with that part of the offense in the hurry. And where is Iowa's strength? Most likely the secondary this year. The depth and experience they have in the back end trumps every other position group on the roster.
Not only that, but Illinois State only returns two starters along the offensive line. Neither of those are at offensive tackle. Couple that with the Hawkeyes having Drew Ott and Nate Meier coming off the edge, and the Redbird passing attack will have a lot on their plate.
Iowa should be able to nullify and limit the passing game for Illinois State, so the plan could be to load the box some to contain Coprich's ability but also to keep Roberson contained and in the pocket. This strategy is probably going to be necessary to limit Illinois State, but it will also make taking the proper angles on ball-carriers that much more important.