The 2004 Iowa Hawkeye football team will finish….
BEST CASE: Well, at this stage of the Kirk Ferentz era, best case is pretty darn good, and we have probably seen that over the course of the past two seasons. In two of last year's three losses (MSU and OSU), Iowa beat themselves as much or more than the opposition did. Purdue handed the Hawkeyes their collective hats.
The Hawks saw the good side of those breaks against Michigan and Purdue and they came out on top.
My best case scenario for 2004 would be a 10-1 regular season record and at least a tie of the Big Ten Championship.
This assumes that the question marks that exist on the offensive side of the football, and there are many, are ALL answered in the affirmative. Same goes for the kicking game with Kyle Schlicher. I am not worried about the defense unless the line starts to get injured in droves.
Personally, I would be pleased with a record of 8-3, as long as one of those losses is not to Iowa State in Iowa City. But that is not going to happen. No, scratch that. I would take a record of 6-2 in the Big Ten and a loss to Iowa State, if that meant a share of the Big Ten title. There are bigger fish to fry than the Cyclones, meaning, a Big Ten title is always more important to me than the Iowa State game.
WORST CASE: If the offensive line does not come together, if Iowa experiences major growing pains with one or more of its young QB's, if the WR corps do not step it up, if Kyle Schlicher suffers a first year slump and if the DL sustains injuries, I could see this team going 6-5.
I think there is enough talent on this team to win six games in their sleep, including the aforementioned home game against the Clones.
I don't see Iowa going 6-5 unless most of the above scenarios come to fruition. I doubt that happens, en masse, just like I doubt that Iowa will answer all of those questions in the affirmative. Pencil me in as an early 7-4 or 8-3 guy. (my email is email@example.com, talk with you soon).
How many quarterbacks will Iowa use in 2004?
There were some fans calling for a Tate/Nathan Chandler rotation this past year, but that would not have offered any sort of change of pace or different look.
Manson has abilities that Tate does not, and vice versa.
I would prefer that Iowa plays the season with a clear cut starter, meaning that he earned the position beyond a shadow of a doubt. And then I would hope that he would stay healthy. Keep in mind that both Tate and Manson are under 200-pounds.
And if Iowa plays just one QB all year, rather, all of the meaningful snaps, that is a good thing, as that player will have a firm grasp of the situation.
WORST CASE: Well, the obvious worst case would be if Cy Phillips were taking meaningful snaps. That is no shot at Cy, rather, he is the #4 man on the depth chart and there would have to be quite a catastophy ahead of him for him to see meaningful snaps.
After Tate and Manson, who again are not big guys, you have another slender QB in Eric McCollom. I think the only way he plays is if one or both of Tate and Manson gets hurt. So that would be the worst case.
What will Iowa's basketball team do in 2004-2005?
BEST CASE: Another upper division finish and an NCAA tourney bid locked up BEFORE the Big Ten tourney.
You were hoping that I would say a regular season Big Ten title?
With Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan State returning a lot of great players and the nucleus of their teams (for the most part, at least Wisconsin and Illinois), it's hard to imagine Iowa making up four or five games in the win column on those teams over one year's time.
Iowa will be better next season, and they will have more weapons in their arsenal and they will be more athletic. Adam Haluska will be a great addition and scoring should not be a problem for next year's team.
Erek Hansen came on strong during the Big Ten season and is the league's premier shot blocker and could be one of the best in the nation if he gets 20 minutes per game.
Doug Thomas is going to excite the CHA crowd with his athleticism and hard-nosed play. Iowa will have a real seven-man rotation without too many holes.
WORST CASE: What we have seen to date in the Alford Era: more inconsistency.
This team has to learn how to take better care of the basketball, or they will continue to be also ran's in league play, which is what they have been for many of the Alford years.
Sure, last year the Hawkeyes finished fourth in the league. But there was a HUGE chasm between third and fourth place. Iowa did not beat any of the teams that finished ahead of them.
Will fourth place be good enough next year?
Only if the team makes the NCAA tournament.