Saturday, November 25, 2017

Iowa Football 2017: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ...

Since 2014, the Iowa Hawkeyes have won 10 of 12 rivalry game trophies,
including three straight against the Nebraska Huskers on Black Friday.
Iowa rolled to a 55-14 win on Friday, after a 14-14 deadlock at the half.
Cedar Rapids, IA -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-5 B1G West) wrapped up the 2017 regular season with a 56-14 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-8, 3-6 B1G), who had their lowest finish, since 1957, due to the loss in Lincoln. The Hawkeyes have now won four of the last five games in the series and the fifth game was an overtime lost, leaving fans saying, what if?

Iowa senior RB 25 Akrum Wadley lead the Hawkeyes in scoring, with three
rushing TDs. All four Iowa RBs came away with a rushing TD, fueled by
42 unanswered second half points, as the Hawkeyes moved to 7-5 for the season.
The Hawkeyes were not projected to be a top flight team in 2017 in the Big Ten, but 7-5 isn't where anyone in the Iowa fan base is satisfied with either. But, there were plenty of what if moments this season, as well?

Clearly, throughout the 2017 Big Ten season, Wisconsin became the most consistent program in the Big Ten, aided by a very favorable schedule, much like Iowa, in 2015.

The Hawkeyes were held to only 66 yards offense, as the scoring was fueled
off two Pick 6 touchdowns by Iowa junior CB Joshua Jackson. It knocked
everyone, but Wisconsin out of the Big Ten West division race.
The Badgers rolled over Iowa to jump to 10-0 this season, with a strong arm 38-14 win, up in Madison over the Hawkeyes, who were coming off an historic 55-24 win over Ohio State. The Badgers claimed their first 10-0 record in program history, with the B1G win over Iowa. The Badgers, with a win over Minnesota today, will join Iowa, who went 12-0 in 2015, to finish a season undefeated at 12-0.

The 2017 Iowa Hawkeyes beat Ohio State for the first time, since the 2004 season.
Ohio State finished 12-0 in 2012, during Urban Meyer's first season in Columbus, but the Buckeyes were on probation, so no post-season. They followed it up in 2013, with a 12-0 start, but lost in the Big Ten title game 34-24 to Michigan State. In 2014, the Buckeyes didn't go 12-0, but they won the Big Ten title game 59-0 over Wisconsin and rolled to the inaugural College Football Playoff title.

Image result for LJ Scott scores on Iowa
In the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan State RB L.J. Scott scored
in the final minute to hand the Iowa Hawkeyes a 16-13 defeat, as the Hawkeyes
end an undefeated season on the field in Indianapolis.
In 2015, Iowa came up short in a 16-13 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. No College Football Playoff and no Big Ten title. In 2016, the Hawkeyes finished 8-4 in the regular season, but three tough losses at Kinnick Stadium stung, but a 14-13 win over Michigan to knock them out of the Big Ten title hunt gave the fans hope for 2017.

On the final play of the game, Penn State knocked off Iowa 21-19 to open the
2017 Big Ten season. The Hawkeyes would fall in back to back B1G games, with
a 17-10 road loss in East Lansing, against Michigan State.
What if, Iowa could have avoided the 21-19 loss on the final play of the game, against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium?

The Dean of College Football, Kirk Ferentz, in his 19th season as head coach at
Iowa, handed the play calling duties over to his son, Brian, for the 2017 season.
The Hawkeyes struggled throughout the 2017 season, with a young offense, extremely inconsistent special teams and even at times on defense. Also, the Hawkeyes had four assistant coaches in new roles on the offensive side, lead by first-year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. It was truly an up and down season for Kirk Ferentz, who was enjoying his 19th season at the helm for Iowa.

Iowa will head their 15th bowl game under Kirk Ferentz in 2017

Iowa linebackers fueled three interceptions in the 56-14 win at Nebraska. The
Hawkeyes were lead by three senior linebackers, as Josey Jewell, Bo Bower and
 Ben Niemann played outstanding at times. Senior Kevin Ward lead the Iowa
special teams and started in the 17-10 OT loss @ Northwestern this season.
The Hawkeyes will need to replace four linebackers in 2018. One player to watch will be sophomore linebacker Kristian Welsh, who pulled down one of the three interceptions against Nebraska, in the new look linebacker corp. But, the Hawkeyes will have one more game lead by linebackers Bo Bower, Josey Jewell, Ben Niemann and Kevin Ward. Hopefully, the bowl prep will help, linebacker coach Seth Wallace looks to replace the productive unit.

First year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz had his ups and downs in 2017,
including a Senior Day loss at the hands of Purdue. He also received a reprimand.
after a halftime melt down up in the press box during another Big Ten game.
Kirk Ferentz opened the 2017 season, with four coaches in new positions all on the offensive side the ball, as mentioned. Brian Ferentz was promoted from offensive line/run game coordinator, while Ken O'Keefe returned from the NFL, after five seasons to serve as quarterbacks coach. New offensive line coach Tim Polacek and new wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland arrived in the Spring, from North Dakota State and Northern Illinois, respectively. There has been growth, along with frustration and inconsistencies.

Iowa saw two true freshman step up against Nebraska, as CB 8 Matt Hankins
made his first career start, while SS 9 Geno Stone, came into the game early,
to provide eight tackles, in place of injured senior SS 19 Miles Taylor.
Iowa defensive coordinator and secondary coach Phil Parker saw his defense get three more interceptions to raise the season total to 19, which leads the FBS in 2017. Iowa junior cornerback Joshua Jackson is a Thorpe finalists, as a first-year starter, leading the nation in interceptions and among the best in pass breakups.

Nebraska junior WR 8 Stanley Morgan takes on role of breakup guy, as he fights
for the ball with Iowa junior CB 15 Joshua Jackson during the Heroes Game, on
Black Friday. Morgan scored two touchdown receptions to lead the Huskers.

Building blocks for the future in Iowa City

Iowa will need to replace 18 seniors, after the 2017 season. On offense, the Hawkeyes will have four returning offensive linemen back, two strong tight ends, as sophomore, first-year starting quarterback Nate Stanley will likely build on solid numbers, after his first full season under and behind the center.

Iowa sophomore QB 4 Nate Stanley enjoyed two five touchdown games, in his
first season, as a starting quarterback. In his first road start at Iowa State, and his
huge breakout party nationally against Ohio State, Stanley showed solid skills.
The Hawkeyes, as of this week, played the fourth most challenging schedule, in 2017. The Hawkeyes beat Iowa State and Ohio State, but lost to Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin, who at one time or another were all among the Top 25 in the nation.

The Iowa Hawkeyes also introduced "The Wave" in 2017. 
While the Iowa Hawkeyes didn't successfully compete for the Big Ten West division title in 2017. The University received tremendous national press, after unveiling "The Wave" at the end of the first quarter at home games at Kinnick Stadium. Clearly, college football is a competitive sport, but at the end of the day, it is only a game, unlike the real fight children face over at the children's hospital in Iowa City.

Mike Riley is relieved of his duties as Huskers head coach

Mike Riley was fired in Lincoln on Saturday, as the three year experiment ends.
It was 20 years ago that Michigan and Nebraska were co-National Champions,
as the 1997 season, under Lloyd Carr for the Wolverines and Dr. Tom Osborne for
the Huskers. How the fans in Lincoln want to get back into the national conversation.
Lincoln, NE – Athletic Director Bill Moos announced today that the University of Nebraska has ended Head Football Coach Mike Riley’s employment effective immediately. Moos will talk with members of the media at 1 p.m. today (Nov. 25) in the West Memorial Stadium Don Bryant Press Box (Sixth Floor) and has begun the search for Nebraska’s next head football coach.
“Mike Riley has brought tremendous professionalism and energy to the Nebraska football program, but unfortunately, those attributes have not translated to on-field success,” Moos said. “After a thorough review of all aspects of our football program, I have chosen to move in a different direction.”
After consulting with university leaders, Moos decided to seek a new coach for the storied football program, which finished with a disappointing 4-8 record in 2017. The University of Nebraska Football Program has won five national championships and entered the 2017 season ranked fourth all-time with 889 victories since the program’s first year in 1890. Hired as Nebraska’s 29th coach on Dec. 5, 2014, Riley posted a 19-19 mark over three seasons.
Moos said the focus now turns to hiring a head coach who will put the Huskers in the best position to compete in the Big Ten and nationally. Nebraska will move quickly in its search to secure a new head coach and Moos has appointed Assistant Coach Trent Bray, who coaches Husker linebackers, to serve as head coach in the interim.
“I expect to find a leader for our football program that will put our student-athletes in a position to compete for championships and grow as young men. I am confident our next coach will meet that standard.”

No comments: