It’s been awhile since there was so much riding on the Iowa Hawkeyes‘ season opener. Sure, we’re just talking about one game in a 12-game season, but Hawk fans know a week one loss could be devastating. Many are fearing the worst, that the team’s losing streak (six games) will continue, while others remain optimistic that Kirk Ferentz and company can turn things around. But at the same time, there are plenty of folks like myself that have no idea what to expect out of this year’s squad.
The main reason why it’s tough to get a read on the the 2013 Hawkeyes is because new starting quarterback Jake Rudock has never taken a snap in a college game. He could be the next big thing, he could be terrible – no one really knows for sure. But if he is indeed the quarterback Iowa thinks he is, the team’s chances of returning to a bowl game will go up exponentially.
The strength of the offense is no doubt behind Rudock in the form of the backfield. Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri should combine to be a force in this year’s B1G conference. Of course any Iowa fan can tell you about the string of injuries to their running backs over the last several years, but if this year’s group can stay healthy, offensive coordinator Greg Davis should be able to rely on them for solid production all season.
Three senior linebackers, led by James Morris, will anchor the Iowa defense which has flat out looked behind the times the last couple of seasons. With many teams across the country going to spread offenses and implementing speed more than ever, the Hawkeyes have stuck with their good old 4-3 base defense. It’s a scheme that works fine when there’s lot of talent to fill the positions, but that hasn’t been the case lately. It will be interesting to see if the Hawkeyes use some different looks in 2013 to change things up a bit.
Northen Illinois will roll into Kinnick Stadium on Saturday to try and earn a big road victory to keep their momentum going from their Orange Bowl campaign a season ago. The Hawkeyes are favored by three points, but it’s clear this one could go either way, which is also true of Iowa’s season.