We all know that Iowa will rely heavily on its stout defense, which returns seven starters that has the potential to be one of the best in the country. But the offense has many question marks: quarterback Drew Tate is basically unproven, the offensive line continues to battle injuries and will be without two starters for a month. The receivers have had problems holding onto the pigskin and maintaining any kind of consistency. The only position on offense without any question marks are the running backs, but their success is based upon the offensive line playing well.
So you can see why I have some uneasiness about the Hawkeye offense to start the season.
Unfortunately, very few questions will be answered after this week's matchup with MAC cellar dweller the Kent State Golden Flashes. Iowa has promoted this game as the "Throwback" game, with Iowa wearing uniforms that date back to 1939 when Kinnick Stadium was still called Iowa Stadium. As you already know, the Hawks will wear all black jerseys with bright gold numbers numerals and no names on the back along with white pants. The helmets will resemble Notre Dame's bright gold dome. Kent State will wear -- it doesn't really matter now does it?
Iowa should be able to line up and do about whatever they want to against an inferior foe. Iowa will give Kent State a dose of Marcus Schnoor and Albert Young, who will fight for the backup RB spot behind Jermelle Lewis. Lewis is sitting out the opener for undisclosed team violations. Although Tate could use the work, don't expect much from the passing game as Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe tend to ground the air attack (so to speak) in these type of games.
What do I mean by "These types of games?" Well, I mean that this should be a blood bath similar to the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" if Iowa comes to play.
Kent State was a respectable (for them) 5-7 last year. But that was with coach Dean Pees, (who is now on-staff with the New England Patriots) and record-breaking quarterback Joshua Cribbs available. It seems Cribbs got into a little trouble with the wacky tobacky and is sitting out the Iowa game as punishment. He may actually be saving his body from Matt Roth, so the punishment may be a blessing in disguise. Cribbs is the record holder for total offense for both a season and a career for Kent State. He threw for 2,424 yards and ran for 701 yards while scoring 28 touchdowns. That's a helluva season for anyone. Cribbs was/is virtually the only threat the Golden Flashes have on offense but they were looking at a long day anyway facing the Iowa defense.
Kent State scored respectable 26.8 points per game, however the defense allowed 33 points per game. The Flashes allowed 201.3 yards rushing per game and 260 passing yards per game.
On defense, Kent State didn't discriminate last year -- they were equally bad defending on the ground or thru the air.
I mentioned earlier that Iowa fans likely won't be able to take much away from this game. But at least this is a live game and it's better than beating on your teammates in practice. But, in my opinion, it won't prepare them much for the conference season.
Here a some things that I will be looking for:
Saturday promises to be quite the day with the Throwback festivities and breaking in a lot of new faces on offense while looking for replacements for perhaps three of the greatest players to ever suit up the Hawkeye black and gold: Robert Gallery, Bob Sanders and Kaeding. I say it will be a happy day for Hawkeye fans with Iowa winning big.
Prediction: Iowa 42, Kent State 6
In addition to Wilder's point of view on Iowa's upcoming opponent, HawkeyeNation.com Publisher Jon Miller will publish his game breakdown and prediction each and every Friday throughout the season.