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Iowa’s quarterback of the future has plenty of optimism that his new offense can “flip the script” after recent struggles.
“Iowa has enough pieces right now to go win a Big Ten championship next year, and I’m going to make sure I do everything I can to make sure that we do,” McNamara said in an interview with The Room podcast — his first interview since committing to Iowa.
McNamara is aware of Iowa’s past offensive woes. The Hawkeyes rank 130th out of 131 FBS teams in yards per game heading into the bowl season and are tied for 123rd in points per game.
When looking at last year’s offensive results, McNamara said Iowa “would be the least intriguing place for a quarterback to go.” But he instead sees it as the “biggest opportunity to flip” Iowa’s offense.
“That’s what I get fired up about,” McNamara said in the podcast hosted by former NFL quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Kyle Allen.
As Iowa was recruiting him, the staff “made it extremely clear that we’re not looking to stay this way” offensively.
“We are well aware that we need to change in order to make us contenders again in the Big Ten championship,” McNamara said on the podcast.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said earlier this week he plans to do a “comprehensive study” after the bowl game that will be “a little bit more thorough and a little bit more detailed” than in other years.
Ferentz also said nothing Iowa is doing is “broken” in that same news conference, though, and recruiting director Tyler Barnes dissed spread offenses in a later-deleted tweet.
Iowa’s football coaches have told McNamara they “want to open (the offense) up” with him there.
“They want to create more explosive pass plays,” McNamara said. “They want to be able to rely on the pass game a lot more than they have in the past.”
The transfer portal is an important aspect of Iowa’s efforts to turn around the offense.
Iowa, McNamara said, is “looking to bring a couple guys from the portal,” but also is “very confident in who we got.” Tight end Luke Lachey highlights the list of Iowa receivers expected to return while wideouts Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV are in the portal.
Erick All Jr., McNamara’s former Michigan teammate and roommate, is among Iowa’s transfer portal targets. The tight end, who is taking an official visit to Iowa this week, told the Cincinnati Enquirer Iowa is one of his three finalists.
All needed season-ending surgery, so his December entrance into the transfer portal was not going to be the difference in whether he was going to play in the College Football Playoff.
Whether any other Michigan receivers consider following McNamara from Michigan to Iowa might not be clear until next month. Iowa has targeted several other wide receivers in the meantime.
The McNamara-Iowa marriage has obvious potential benefits for Iowa. For McNamara, he wants to “not be labeled as a game manager anymore.”
“Not only are they looking to change, but I’m looking to change really the perception of my own game as well,” McNamara said.
The possibility of returning to a Big Ten championship again does not hurt either. McNamara led Michigan there as the starting quarterback in 2021 and defeated his future team in a 42-3 rout.
“For that opportunity to be right in front of me again is something that I’m really fired up about,” McNamara said.
Depending on what happens in the next month with the transfer portal, Iowa’s path to Indianapolis could be especially feasible in 2023. Three of Iowa’s six Big Ten West foes will have new head coaches.