#39 Iowa 2018 Football Preview

Iowa Hawkeyes
Overall Rank: #39
#7 Big Ten
 Iowa Logo
Iowa had another decent season in 2018, but was unable to do enough to overtake Wisconsin in the Big Ten West. That has been the case more often than not lately and it will very likely be the case again this year. The Hawkeyes did find some playmakers on offense last year though, but now those surprises will have to turn into stars in the Big Ten.
2017 Record: 8-5, 4-5
2017 Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Boston College (W 27-20)
Coach: Kirk Ferentz (143-97 at Iowa, 155-118 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Ferentz
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Parker
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Toren Young, RB, 193 yards
Passing: Nate Stanley, QB, 2,437 yards
Receiving: Nick Easley, WR, 530 yards
Tackles: Jake Gervase, S, 58
Sacks: Anthony Nelson, DT, 7.5
Interceptions: Jake Gervase, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: TE Noah Fant, S Amani Hooker, DE Parker Hesse
Key Losses: RB Akrum Wadley, RB James Butler, WR Matt VandeBerg, OL Sean Welsh, OL James Daniels, LB Josey Jewell, LB Bo Bower, LB Ben Niemann, CB Josh Jackson
Nate Stanley stepped into the starting quarterback job last year and performed very well. He threw for 2,437 yards and 26 touchdowns, but more impressively was intercepted just six times. Stanley hopes to boost his 55.8 completion percentage and that should not be a problem with a year of experience under his belt. Stanley also has a couple proven targets returning in Nick Easley and Noah Fant. Easley caught 51 passes for 530 yards and four touchdowns, while Fant added 30 receptions for 494 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fant is one of the most dangerous pass catching tight ends in the country and Stanley will likely look his way more often this year. The ground game lost their top two rushers, but Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin showed some flashes as freshmen. Iowa is going to run the ball, so they need to be productive in order to open up space for the passing game.
The defense has some huge holes to fill. Linebacker Josey Jewell and cornerback Josh Jackson were both All-Americans last season. The secondary does have some potential though with safeties Jake Gervase and Amani Hooker leading the way. At linebacker Jewell is just one of the losses and the Hawkeyes will have to rely on a few players who do not have much experience. The strength of the defense will be in the front four. Defensive end Anthony Nelson recorded a team high 7.5 sacks in 2017 and Parker Hesse added 4.0. With plenty of experience and depth, Coach Kirk Ferentz has the luxury of rotating his front four and that will help keep the pass rush strong.
The Bottom Line:
It will not take long for the Big Ten West to likely be decided. After non-conference dates with Northern Illinois, Iowa State and Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes host Wisconsin on September 22nd. The winner of that contest will likely win the West and at the least will have a big leg up heading into the rest of the season. Iowa does avoid Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State so the rest of the schedule could have been much worse. If the defense can fill those holes, the offense should do enough to win quite a few games.
Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 139.2 (96th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 190.2 (93, 9)
Total Offense: 329.5 (116, 10)
Scoring Offense: 28.2 (66, 5)
Rushing Defense: 144.6 (42, 8)
Pass Defense: 212.8 (50, 9)
Total Defense: 357.5 (36, 9)
Scoring Defense: 19.9 (17, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (26, 2)
Sacks: 2.23 (51, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (54, 6)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#32 Noah Fant