Hawkeye Hits will run each Tuesday and Friday morning on Hawkeye Insider and is a story meant for only premium members. It is pertinent and noteworthy information about the Iowa Hawkeyes gathered by our insiders over the past handful of days. Other premium information can also be found on the message board, The Swarm.
Hawkeye Hits will bring you the inside information you desire on the Hawkeye football team, the Hawkeye basketball team, any other sports, as well as recruiting nuggets.
The Tuesday September 29 edition begins NOW. Grab your coffee and donuts!
- I hope people aren't getting too conceited about Iowa's game on Saturday. Sure, Illinois lost to North Carolina 48-14, but one of those touchdowns was very late, and two others came from special teams. Add that to the fact Illinois held the Huskers to just 13 points, and they're an improved squad, on defense at least. I do not see the Hawkeyes pulling away on Saturday. I see a win, but not leaving Illinois in the dust.
- One of Illinois' top weapons has been declared out for the game in running back Josh Ferguson. Ferguson may not be their best runner, that is Ke'Shawn Vaughn, but he's dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield. That is one area that has bothered the Iowa defense at times so this may be a bit fortunate for the Hawkeyes.
- The offense will be challenged in a major way again this week. Illinois gets great quarterback play and great defense. Holding Tommy Armstrong and the Husker offense to just 13 points should not be ignored. That is a heck of a feat. The Iowa players have taken notice as well.
- I know the Illinois front four has improved greatly, but if I am Iowa, I still make them prove it to me early and often. I think the game plan should be to pound the ball on the ground right at them from the jump. Run, run, run, to set up the pass in this one. Illinois has a pretty good secondary. I think a powerful running game to set up play action is the way to go this weekend. And good thing for Iowa, that is their DNA.
- It could be the game where they try to increase game reps for tight end Jake Duzey. It hasn't happened yet but it surely will at some point. He's been back for over two weeks now so expect him to get a game to put him back in rhythm.
- Another guy to look out for is wideout Jerminic Smith. Another week to get some timing down and see how Jerminic runs certain routes could pay dividends. There were two or three times they could have connected last week. A mixture of overthrows from C.J. Beathard, Jerminic giving up on a route too early, and just not being on the same page caused it be just a few missed opportunities. That could be different this week. Jerminic Smith isn't Tevaun Smith, but he has a bright, bright future.
- Kirk Ferentz says a lot of times that his best players have to play the best for Iowa to be a good football team. I'll say that they are so far this year. But I'll take it one step further. There's two four-star prospects in the starting lineup playing like four-star prospects. That is defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and offensive guard Jordan Walsh. Those two are doing a lot of dirty work in the interior that goes unnoticed.
- Media Day was on Wednesday and Fran McCaffery spoke about having a mixture of experience. Sure, four starters return but after that comes a lot of true freshmen and redshirt freshmen. However, that surge of youth also allowed McCaffery to say this is the most weapons he's had at once since becoming the head coach at Iowa.
- Freshmen that I think see the court this year are Ahmad Wagner, Andrew Fleming, and Brandon Hutton for sure. Wagner is just so athletic and gives them another body that has the versatility to guard some bigs. Fleming is a guy that can really fill it up on the offensive end. Hutton may be the best defender out of the freshmen bunch and that always speaks volumes to Fran. Christian Williams could have a chance as well as he really looked smooth in the bit of practice that we saw. Too early to say who will be redshirted but just too many bodies out there for one to two of the true freshmen not to redshirt. One candidate could be Isaiah Moss just because how late he came in.
- They're excited to have Dale Jones. I think he makes an impact on this team but Fran and the coaching staff would like to see him improve on the defensive end more. They know he can rebound the heck out of the ball.
- Iowa is smaller this year. They don't have the size they did a year ago but they are also more athletic. We'll see what that looks like out on the court in due time.
- Iowa hosts Illinois this week but don't expect to see a crazy list of visitors. 2017 Athlete Owen Piche of Naperville, Illinois will be in town and possibly a few in-state prospects. The big visitor weekend, I'm guessing, will be when Minnesota comes to Iowa City for the night game. That is how many programs like to do it. They would rather show off an atmosphere of a night game, and it allows them more time. It's hard for prospects to attend 11 a.m. games when their own games are finishing just 12 hours before or so.