IOWA CITY — Normally, the job of the old-media scold is to caution against unrealistic expectations.
Phooey on that noise. I’m charging the world with insufficient expectations about the 2017 Hawkeyes.
You don’t know what to expect from the unproven quarterback or quarterbacks, and you still don’t after Saturday’s Kids Day open practice at Kinnick Stadium? Balderdash!
Nathan Stanley is a scholarship player who took second-team reps for all of last season. He’ll start, and he may start slowly, but his coaches didn’t make him the backup as a first-year freshman last year without seeing something in him.
If Stanley falters, Tyler Wiegers is a fourth-year junior who ought to be able to make plays and lead by now.
The receiving corps is thin? Nerts! You’ve got a skilled vet in Matt VandeBerg and a host of scholarship receivers who were brought in to play at this level. One, sophomore Devonte Young, was among the few players to get a big reaction from the crowd Saturday with his two touchdown catches.
Any other truly nagging questions about this team? The punting? Ahhh, someone will emerge.
So why was the Las Vegas over/under on wins for the Hawkeyes at a paltry 6.5? Why did Phil Steele, one of college football’s self-appointed wise men, forecast a fifth-place finish for Iowa in the Big Ten West?
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Fifth-place? OK, Wisconsin has earned its stripes from the seers and soothsayers, but Nebraska? Northwestern? Minnesota???
Where’s the outrage and disgust in Hawkeyeland? Iowa is 20-4 over the last two regular-seasons, 14-3 in the Big Ten. It changes quarterbacks and is supposed to suddenly become a speed bump in the nothing-special West?
You’ve got a $55 million football facility. You’ve recruited well lately. You’ve got a lot more winning tradition banked than Minnesota and Northwestern. You should be good again this season, and you will be. Right?
“I don’t know,” said the team’s best player, senior linebacker Josey Jewell. “You never know at this point. You should understand it a little more after that first game — see what people have with pressure, see how people break down if they have a bad play, how they’re affected with (playing in) the stadium, how they’re affected by everything.
“It’s really hard to try to guess what’s going to happen, so you’ve just got to wait until the first game.”
That was spoken like an offense-destroyer instead of an offense-creator. So I went to another senior, running back Akrum Wadley. He called his team a “work-in-progress,” but that’s how artists refer to projects that have yet to be finished.
“We’ve got a returning offensive line, they’re great,” Wadley said. “We’ve got two great quarterbacks, leaders. We’ve got a good running back crew. Got some good talent at receiver. We’ve got a nice defense.
“If we can all come together and keep stacking days, we’re going to be a good team.”
See? Was that so hard? A wins over/under number of 6.5? Get that junk out of here.
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This open practice was important stuff for the people involved, of course, but ultimately it’s just entertainment for the rest of us. In another city that is home to a major university, white-supremacist jackals put on quite the disgusting display of hate and homegrown terrorism Saturday.
The University of Virginia’s football program had to cancel its “Meet the Team” event scheduled for Saturday because of the idiocy in Charlottesville, Va. I’d say something flippant like “Better there than here,” but the where doesn’t matter. It’s all our country.
How many half-wit racists (a redundancy) will passionately watch football this fall, seeing African-Americans, whites, people of mixed races, people of other races including the occasional player with Samoan blood (we’re looking closely at you, Hawkeye freshman defensive end A.J. Epenesa) working together to try to win games?
Yes, it’s just football, a kids’ game. But shouldn’t that part of it resonate?