Iowa Football

The Walk Through: Minnesota might pass a lot, because ...

... Iowa will have two true freshmen corners today

Hawkeye fans reach out to touch the Floyd of Rosedale trophy pig after an Iowa win of 29 -27 over Minnesota at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota Sat. Nov. 13, 2004.
Hawkeye fans reach out to touch the Floyd of Rosedale trophy pig after an Iowa win of 29 -27 over Minnesota at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota Sat. Nov. 13, 2004.

The bye is over. The Hawkeyes are on the road after a bye. What could go wrong?

I don’t know what it is, but I feel some nerves from you guys. Even after the spread for this game basically went from 3 to 6.5 in like 55 minutes. Iowa throwing the 3, I think if you were on your toes you got on that.

The Gophers are on the field warming up.

— Some news of a shakeup in Iowa’s secondary this week. Corner Matt Hankins has a cast on his left hand in warmups. He has been ruled out for today, but is available, according to Iowa radio. Same for fellow corner Michael Ojemudia. Radio said “not 100 percent,” but is available. He warmed up with the other defensive backs and seemed fine.

You’re probably looking at Julius Brents (he replaced Hankins when he left the game vs. Wisconsin) and Riley Moss in for Ojemudia. So, that is a pair of true freshmen at corner.

Hey, guess what? Minnesota’s best players are wide receivers Tyler Johnson (22 catches for 295 yards and five TDs) and Rashod Batemen (20, 192 yards, TD).

That leads nicely into the next point.

— We had debate on snap counts this week with Parker Hesse and A.J. Epenesa. I generally side with the coaches. They are the ones getting paid, they are the ones who see practice. I don’t buy they don’t play the best players. I asked KF something along those lines last year.

He said you have to play the best players. If you don’t, the players call BS and the team sours.

A couple of factors: You have to remember a sliver of Hesse’s snaps come as a defensive tackle, so that skews things a little. Also, last week was Wisconsin. You hate the Badgers, but that is an elite rushing program. In three of the last four years, the Badgers have rushed for 3,121 yards (2017), 2,843 (2016) and 4,482 (2014). All of those would be records at Iowa (the Hawkeyes’ record is 2,784 in 2002).

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So, you’re going to see more Epenesa today because the Gophers aren’t the Badgers. But a lot of you thought Epenesa played well against the run last week. We’ll see. Maybe he did. Maybe he opened eyes and maybe he’s closer to a three-down DE than he was before Wisconsin.

— Let’s see how punt return goes. This is two years now of serious mistakes that cost Iowa in a close game against a blueblood Big Ten opponent (MSU is there, you have to deal with that).

Clean slate now for everyone, including returner Kyle Groeneweg. You’d think zero tolerance from here on out. It has to be that way. I was out most of this week (if I have this job next year, I won’t do that again) and missed special teams coordinator LeVar Woods news conference. He was a solid voice on this.

Iowa doesn’t ship out players after one mistake. It just doesn’t. It mostly pays off. Right now, that remains to be seen.

“No, I don’t think that,” Woods said about possible changes. “We’ve all seen some really good stuff from Kyle. He has made some plays that we’ve all been happy with. That being said, there are some things that we’ve got to fix, and that’s not just him or one person. It’s a team effort. It’s all of us involved, starting right here, and then we’ve got to get it fixed.”

I know you guys hate it when coaches pull the player who’s on the skillet out of the fire. That’s college coaches. I think you get that by now.

— Barrington Wade gets the start at outside linebacker. Nick Niemann suffered a PCL knee injury. Radio called him week to week. He’s probably looking at maybe two or three games.

Linebackers coach Seth Wallace gave Wade a good look in camp, but Niemann brought such a high IQ to the position. Wade couldn’t score the knockout.

Today is his chance. It’d be good for Iowa if a Chicago recruit kicked some tail.

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— Let’s see if the WR rotation expands. Maybe Max Cooper. Maybe one of the true freshmen.

My first play call would be the pass that Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Nate Stanley failed to hook up on against Wisconsin.

Get Smith-Marsette going. It’s a play that Akrum Wadley, Smith-Marsette’s New Jersey mentor, got a hold of from Iowa’s camp clips and posted on his Twitter. In that one, Smith-Marsette went the distance. He has that in him.

— You guys got grumpy about the offense and points last week. You should’ve.

Iowa is healthy at around 28 points per. Right now, it’s 25.3. That leaves the door open.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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