Iowa Football Media Day is Saturday, and there's one thing we can guarantee you'll see: Pictures of two or three quarterbacks standing shoulder to shoulder, possibly throwing a football back and forth in an awkward manner. That's right: IT'S QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY SEASON!
Kirk Ferentz abhors a public quarterback competition almost as much as he abhors four wide receiver formations and the chop block rule, so don't expect much actual information beyond "they're going to compete" bromides on Saturday (or for the next three weeks). And unlike the 2013 quarterback standoff, I don't think you can assume anything going in. This is a different offense (despite Ferentz's protests to the contrary) and will require different skills from its quarterback. Tyler Wiegers got beat by Nathan Stanley in a sight read-based system. That doesn't mean he'll get beat in a Ken O'Keefe West Coast timing-based system. Or that there's someone else in the wings waiting to beat them all.
So with little to report, we're all turning toward Ferentz's favorite topic: The past. Bobby LeGesse states the obvious -- that Iowa probably needs a quarterback of some type if it wants to win some games this season -- while Chad Leistikow breaks down the 1987 quarterback battle between Dan McGwire, Tom Poholsky and Chuck Hartlieb. And given Ferentz's affinity for anything that happened before 1990, I would assume we'll hear something about that tomorrow.
But remember one key point that gets lost in all of this: Quarterback experience doesn't much matter to Iowa's success under Ferentz. On percentage wins, here are Iowa's six best seasons under Ferentz and the quarterback situation in each:
- 2015: C.J. Beathard (first year as a full-time starter)
- 2002: Brad Banks (first year as a full-time starter)
- 2009: Ricky Stanzi (first year as a full-time starter, though he had played more than Beathard or Banks)
- 2004: Drew Tate (first year as a full-time starter)
- 2003: Nathan Chandler (first year as a full-time starter)
- 2008: Ricky Stanzi/Jake Christensen (actual controversy basically all year long)
It is genuinely amazing (1) how good Iowa has been with new quarterbacks, and (2) how bad Iowa has been with established quarterbacks. We get a new one this year, playing with things that genuinely matter to Iowa's success: Legit talent at running back, experience on the offensive line and a kickass defensive front seven. I'd suggest you enjoy the ride, because if history is any guide, it might not matter that much in September.
Never Mind That S**t, Here Comes Yanda
Former Hawkeye offensive lineman Marshal Yanda, now widely considered the best offensive guard in the NFL, gets a full-on profile from Robert Mays at The Ringer. The best parts:
- Jonathan Ogden on Yanda as a rookie: “I remember this guy, not really big, not really that imposing.... But when he got out there, he had sound technique, and he also had this toughness about him. That, ‘I grew up on a farm, I bailed hay, and I’m just gonna out-tough you’ mentality.”
- Yanda drove to Iowa City on gamedays in 2004 just to get noticed by Ferentz, who hadn't extended a scholarship offer, leading to an all-time Ferentz quote: “It was kind of like a dog on your porch that won’t go away." Iowa offered him on JUCO Signing Day.
- Another Ferentz quote: “Very candidly, [Yanda] was less than impressive,” Ferentz says. “The way I describe Marshal is that he’s not the prettiest guy in shorts.”
But the most important part of that entire story for Iowa fans: The breakdown of a 2014 outside zone play in which Yanda helped block three different defenders to spring a long run, bouncing from the defensive end to the nose tackle to the inside linebacker with flawless precision. Yanda chalks it up to feel and instinct from years of running that play, which it is. And which is why it's so important for Iowa to (1) have experience on the offensive line that has run that play a few billion times, and (2) have guys like Marshal Yanda every once in a while. And Sean Welsh seems like that kind of guy.
(Football can't get here fast enough, right?)
All Over the Board
Readers of this here website know that Iowa basketball lost just one significant piece from last year's surprisingly competitive rebuild. And while there remains a gigantic Peter Jok-shaped hole in the lineup, Iowa has options and versatility in filling the gap. Fran McCaffery also has Jordan Bohannon doing Jordan Bohannon things at the point and about 37 guys fighting for time in the frontcourt, including Big Ten All-Freshman team member Tyler Cook.
With a team that was one of the top four to miss the NCAA Tournament in March, Iowa’s schedule is ripe for the team to make a Big Ten title run. While the Hawkeyes lose Big Ten scoring champion Peter Jok (19.9 points per game), they bring back 76.7 percent of their scoring and return 85.7 percent of their minutes.
Doc seizes on something that hasn't been examined closely yet: The conference schedule. Iowa gets home-and-homes against Indiana (new coach), Michigan (Iowa has owned the series over the last three years), Ohio State (new coach), Minnesota (giant enigma) and Penn State (Penn State). That's ten games where the Hawkeyes should be 7-3. More importantly, the road games are at Illinois (new coach), Nebraska (imploding), Maryland (probably a loss) and Rutgers (still Rutgers). A split of the road-only dates isn't out of the question, and if Iowa can take three of four at home from Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin, a 12-6 conference record could get it done.
Obviously, we're a long way from Big Ten hoops, and a lot can happen before January. But despite what the national guys are telling you, this team is far closer to the NCAA Tournament than meets the quick critical eye.
Odds and Ends
The Big Ten released women's basketball matchups earlier this week. Iowa gets home-and-homes against Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, just the way that God intended it. But seriously, getting just one road game against a team that won ten or more in the conference last year is extremely favorable.
Incoming running back James Butler gets the Hawkeye Sports agitprop treatment.
Another Greg Davis/Bobby Kennedy Texas wide receiver speed project has returned home.
Former Hawkeye football player/track athlete Emmanuel Ogwo has transferred to TCU for track
— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) August 2, 2017
Well, that's unexpected.
Riley McCarron in the mix at wide receiver https://t.co/fuS5OtOdHL
— The Texans Wire (@TheTexansWire) August 4, 2017
Brandon Scherff's House of Deer Fajitas is a restaurant concept that has to happen.