1. Who is your pick to click?
Rob: Adrian Clayborn. Iowa is going to go as its defense goes for at least the first few weeks this season. Maine will pay plenty of attention to the men in the middle - Mitch King and Matt Kroul - leaving Clayborn and Christian Ballard to deal with 1-on-1 blocking. Clayborn enjoyed a solid camp and will shine in his first college start.
Jon: Shonn Greene. I think he is going to get 20+ carries, and I think he will averaged 7+ yards per carry. So yes, I am calling for Shonn to have a 140 yard-plus game right out of the chute. The caveat is, as long as Shonn's cardiovascular shape is there to handle that type of work load
Brian: Bradley Fletcher. Obviously, Iowa should get out to a pretty quick and sizeable lead, which will put Maine in a position to pass for a good portion of the game. Fletcher showed flashes last year, as well as during the open practice. I think he'll snag at least one pick, with the possibility of two.
2. What should the ratio of run to pass be?
Rob: Time and time again over the last few years, Iowa has tried to push the square peg through the round hole, or in this case, the running back through eight- and nine-men fronts. Look for Maine to cheat up against the run to key on the Hawkeyes' tendency. As a result, Iowa should use the pass to set up the run, which they then can use in the second half. In the end, it's 50-50.
Jon: I think Iowa will be 65/35 run/pass. There won't be much of a reason to throw the ball in this game, as I think Iowa is going to have their way. But even against a FCS team that won four games last year, if Iowa tries to get those running yards with a pro set, I-formation, the yards will not be easy to come by and they could put themselves in some needless third and long situations. But it will be pretty vanilla.
Brian: Normally I'd say 60/40 leaning toward the run, but with such uncertainty as to the quarterback situation, I'd say we'll see probably 60/40 pass. I think each quarterback will get upwards of 20 passing attempts in, probably close to 60 attempts total, with the run game taking a bit of a back seat.
3. Will Stanzi and Christensen play?
Rob: Yes. I'm hoping it's because the game is decided late in the first half. However, if it's not and the Iowa offense is struggling, the Iowa coaches will be quicker to slide somebody in for Christensen. Either way, they both will play.
Jon: Yes. I think that each player will see reps, because I think this game will be out of reach for Maine by halftime. Jake starts the second half, then Stanzi gets in there and is allowed to do some things before the playbook is dive right, dive right, third and medium to third and long. I think that would be a good scenario, because every team needs two quarterbacks, and even though Jake proved to be very tough and durable last year, you don't want to see anyone take that much punishment, and most can't hold up for an entire season.
Brian: I feel a bit like a cheater on this one, because I'm answering this question *after* Kirk's Tuesday press conference, so I'll go with the word of the head man, go with yes. Obviously Jake is going to get the starting spot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Stanzi in during the first quarter, reps with the first-team offense.
4. Will the first-team defense pitch a shutout?
Rob: Ah, tough question. I'll so no. While I think the defense will be tough, I think it has enough new players that there will be some growing pains and some mistakes. Also, as we said, the offense could struggle with field position or turn it over to put the defense in a bad spot.
Jon: Yes. I think Iowa's first team defense will get plenty of penetration from its base sets. I expect Maine to move the ball a little better than Syracuse did in its 'pistol' formation last year, mostly because Maine runs some variation of a spread offense. But I look for Iowa's ends to make a statement in this game, and at times, it could be a race to the quarterback. If Maine scores, it won't be until the primary starters have been pulled, or a fluke big play earlier in the game.
Brian: I believe they will, yes. If the weakness were reversed, I would definitely say no, but that's not the case. Iowa's strength is up front, which means pressure. If you don't give a quarterback any time, there's no way he scores points. Even a stellar defensive backfield can't cover if the QB has all day. Iowa's first-team defense will pitch a shutout, with the second-team DL letting things slip a bit midway through the third quarter.
5. Who will lead the Hawkeyes in receiving yards?
Rob: Brodell? DJK? I'll go Brandon Myers. Boy, the Moeaki injury sure would hurt a lot more if it not for Myers and what he showed last season. I think he'll cause some mismatches with the Maine linebackers and get loose in then middle of the field. Look for 80-plus yards though the air and a TD.
Jon: I will go with DJK, the annointed one. OK, that is a bit much. But I think Iowa will have a new wrinkle or two in the passing game with new coach Erik Campbell, and I think the coaching that DJK received from 'Soup' will make a difference, that and he will be another year older. I suspect he will be the best athlete on the field.
Brian: Andy Brodell. I think Coach Soup is going to make a different not only to the guy with the ball in his hands, but with the folks blocking downfield. I'm expecting a return to jailbreak—screen dominance, and I think Brodell will hit one for at least 40 or 50 yards, which should be enough of a headstart to get the game-one title.
6. What will Iowa run on its first offensive play?
Rob: The Hawkeyes will break out in a three-WR formation and get about as spread as they get. Then, they will give it to Shonn Greene who will run up the middle for four yards. I also expect to see the WR/jailbreak screen at least two times during the afternoon.
Jon: Run off tackle right or left. To borrow a line from Kirk, 'No doubt about it.'
Brian: Play action pass, then passing to DJK on a 10 yard curl route.