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 15 edition begins NOW. Grab your coffee and donuts!
- Iowa plays Maryland on Saturday and is much healthier. C.J. Beathard has made great strides, Tevaun Smith should be 100 percent, LeShun Daniels is back, and Boone Myers should be back. Jake Duzey appears to be making strides as well. The only guys they'll miss against the Terps are Ike Boettger and Jordan Canzeri.
- I do think Jordan Canzeri will also miss the Indiana game in Bloomington in 8 days. He's a tough kid but a high ankle sprain is tough for a running back to overcome as you've see with LeShun Daniels. It's probably a bit more optimistic for an offensive tackle as Boettger also has a similar injury. Boetgger probably has a chance to play against the Hoosiers.
- Just because of how well Cole Croston has played, I expect that even when Ike Boettger and Boone Myers both return that they will find some playing time for him, similarly like they do with James Daniels. He's earned it.
- My prediction will be coming later today but contrary to what some are speculating, I don't think Iowa struggles Saturday against Maryland. I think the Terps and their style of play is just a good fit for the Hawkeyes. They aren't built like a team that would give Iowa trouble other than the quarterback Perry Hills running the ball. I do expect a slower start coming off a bye week but all-systems-go soon after that.
- Coming off a bye week, a team usually likes to go back to their bread and butter early and often. For the Hawkeyes, that is their running game. And Maryland has struggled to stop the run for most of the season outside of containing Saquon Barkley of Penn State a week ago. Look for Akrum Wadley to have a big, big day.
- Yes, I said Akrum Wadley. Canzeri is out but Daniels returns. Mitchell is available. I think you'll still see Wadley get most of the carries as they ease Daniels back in. It could be a hot-hand situation though if Daniels begins to roll. I still like Wadley to be the guy with Daniels spelling him. Derrick Mitchell as the third back makes the most sense.
- All my friends and family have been texting and calling me asking, 'Is Iowa for real?' They all want to know. Not really because they care about the Hawkeyes, though they are becoming casual fans because they're a good story and everyone just respects Kirk Ferentz the guy, but because they're all mostly Ohio State fans. As Ohio State fans, their eyes are always ahead and thinking about the Big Ten championship. Of course, they have to get by Michigan State and Michigan in back-to-back weeks first. Either way, the buzz about the Hawkeyes is growing by the day.
- A lot of talk about the Iowa schedule and how it's weak but a lot of people are stepping up to defend it now, including fans that were saying "We'll suck even against this cupcake schedule". Even writers that laughed and said "Iowa has a chance to make the title game because their schedule is so weak". It's all funny to me to see the same people defending Iowa's schedule that were judging it the most before the season. Does it look better before the season began? Yes. Northwestern is better and Pittsburgh is better. Though North Carolina dominating Pittsburgh last night didn't help. Yes it was only a seven point game, but the Tar Heels lead at one time 23-3 and lead the whole way.
- Just call it what it is. Just because Iowa has a chance at the playoff doesn't mean to go back on what was said about their schedule. It's still a weak schedule. The Wisconsin win on the road is the best they have and that's a brilliant one that I'll never judge. Winning in Camp Randall is no joke regardless of the year. The Northwestern win on the road will probably end up looking decent, but not on the level of the Wisconsin victory. Pittsburgh has some tough games left that will probably make that win look much less special throughout the year. The wins over Iowa State and North Texas are lousy. Nobody will ever give them credit for defeating Illinois State and Illinois.
- But guess what?!?! None of it matters. If Iowa goes undefeated, they will make the playoff. A 13-0 record, Big Ten championship, and win over possible top 5 team in Michigan State or Ohio State? That will be enough. Everyone is freaking out like they do every year saying there will be too many undefeated teams. It all sorts itself out. Every year by the end there's only 1-3 undefeated teams remaining. The one loss teams may be a concern but Iowa would jump them in the final week of the playoff poll if they were to beat #1 Ohio State or #2 Michigan State in the Big Ten Title game.
- So what does Iowa need? They could use LSU defeating Alabama to remove the Crimson Tide from contention altogether just to be safe. They need undefeated teams to go down, but they will. TCU and Baylor will face off. Both will also play Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Iowa also could use Ohio State or Michigan State remaining undefeated. They actually need one of them to remain undefeated.
- The Hawkeyes won their exhibition opener last night over Sioux Falls 99-73. Mike Gesell lead all scorers with 24 points. He didn't start out well in the first few minutes, with a few uncharacteristic turnovers, but finished well and was exactly what he needed to be. Fran loved it. Fran also loved the performances of Anthony Clemmons, freshman Christian Williams, Peter Jok, and Nicholas Baer.
- The first two off the bench were Ahmad Wagner and Brady Ellingson. That is probably a solid indication of things to come. Fran loves the way Wagner plays and what he gives to the team because he can defend three different positions, great at setting screens, and is extremely athletic and long. Ellingson just gives Iowa more shooting, but he's got to knock them down if he's going to get those kinds of minutes. He didn't last night.
- I think it's safe to say more minutes are coming for Nicholas Baer and Christian Williams. Fran raved about those two in his presser afterwards. They will be significant substitutes off the bench this year. Baer probably does not have the bulk to play the 5, but he has the length, athleticism, and shooting to play either the 3 or 4. Christian Williams is the likely ball handler following Mike Gesell this year.
- Iowa will have to use one, maybe two redshirts in my estimation. Fran says they are not ready to make any decisions like that and that they don't really know what they want to do there or how many they anticipate using. I think the frontrunnres would be Isaiah Moss and Brandon Hutton. McCaffery said that both are behind right now and they only played a couple minutes and not until the end of the game last night.
- Nothing happened to make you question the starting five. When the lead was lost, the starting five was re-inserted back in and that is when they were able to separate from Sioux Falls. You'd like to see Adam Woodbury play much better but that'll come. He just didn't have very good feel around the rim last night for whatever reason. It's something to keep an eye on but I think he'll be fine moving forward.
- If they get that kind of effort on a nightly basis from Peter Jok, they're going to score a lot of points. Clemmons and Gesell did what they do but Jok really took off and was aggressive at all. He was one of the more efficient shooters on the night and put together and 18 point performance. Fran always wants more from him on the defensive end but he may be the most gifted player outside of Jarrod Uthoff on the offensive end.