Iowa Football

Iowa football #PaintedTower mailbag: Iowa's LB depth has been outstanding

Is this running back Ivory Kelly-Martin's week?

Iowa linebacker Djimon Colbert will get his first career start this week at Minnesota. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa linebacker Djimon Colbert will get his first career start this week at Minnesota. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Fishing was brutal. I mean brutal. We did get to take out docks and no one was bit by a brown recluse spider (I’m pretty sure that’s what those were).

So, bit of a mixed bag. Can’t wait to do it again.

It’s #PaintedTower mailbag time. I’m sorry this is a short week for me. Let’s hit this hard for eight more weeks. Football is fleeting.


Agree on the LB depth. That speaks to the coach. Seth Wallace keeps a tight room. The players are prepared. Give Wallace credit for paving over whatever happened with Amani Jones and the injuries that have crept in.

Is Kristian Welch OK? In and out of the lineup. Clearly hurt in the second half of Northern Illinois. Missed Iowa State. OK for UNI and a mixed bag against Wisconsin.

And now maybe outside linebacker? That’s a lot for a first-year starter. But the time is now for Welch. He’s a junior. It’s time to start, it’s time to have a career if you want to have a career doing this.

I like him at the weakside and it’s up to him to keep Djimon Colbert at No. 2. I feel like that race is just getting started.


In the linebackers' current state, I like Jack Hockaday in the middle. The only reason we’re having this conversation is Nick Niemann’s knee injury (thinking PCL).

So, who’s the OLB for this week?

If Barrington Wade, a 6-1, 233-pound sophomore, fills the spot, I think he’ll respond. He’s a third-year sophomore. The time is now. I know, I’m using that a lot here, but everyone out there has a schedule. You know what it is. No depth chart and few snaps during your sophomore year isn’t a great indicator that your dreams are going to be fulfilled.

Given Wade’s football biological clock and Wallace’s skill in keeping a deep, prepared group, I like Wade’s chances to survive and maybe thrive against the Gophers.

And if he doesn’t, probably Welch and maybe Colbert, but I don’t think it gets to that.

Thank you, Cali. Woodshed tear sheet for you.


We had a couple of really quiet days and then, blammo, we were bringing muskies to the boat on the reg.

We tend to toil long times at spots. We got frustrated and picked up. Next spot, between two points, my brother-in-law had a 40 to 50-incher on the hook on the first cast. It slid off.


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Then, one morning, same BIL had a short, fat muskie on. It rocketed out of the water and slid off. Everyone brought at least one muskie to the boat. Mine was huge, between 40 and 50 and fat. Had a black bucktail with orange blades on. Couldn’t get it to strike.

On our last float of the week, with a small section of docks that still needed to get out of the water, the BIL snagged a 29-inch muskie. We were happy. Later, just before the trip ended, I got really lucky with a 35-inch northern.

It was like the Cable, Wis., Chamber of Commerce was watching. “Give these guys some fish so they’ll come back next year.”

We’ll be back next year. That is muskie fishing.

The beers this trip were Golden Light and Miller High Life. But three of us are from Dubuque, so we’ve invented this drink called “The Dubuquer.” It’s a shot of Jameson and a shot of Jagermeister. It’s an Irish-German thing that just isn’t for everyone. Kind of like a Dubuquer.

So, no Hamm’s and no muskies. Sounds like hell, but believe me, it was a pleasure.

Woodshed tear sheet for you, Puff. The last one.


This is the thing about the Minnesota game. It never feels like much, but sometimes, the lid boils off the kettle and you have a mess on your hands.

That is in play this week. I’d give it a 29 percent chance at happening. (30 felt like too much.)

Iowa has a better football program than Minnesota. Much better. But because of rivalry and cussedness and the fact that Iowa sometimes can’t crush the mink that stole and ate all of the minnows the night before, it remains a close contest.


Anyone proclaiming that it’s time to put Minnesota in the rearview and just throttle them every time doesn’t grasp the fact that, yes, Iowa has the better program, but doesn’t have a good enough program to put anyone in the Big Ten in the rearview mirror.

Every season the board resets. I think we’re learning that this year. The 2018 Iowa State game was very different from 2017. So was the Wisconsin game. The board resets for programs like Iowa and Minnesota. It feels like the “reloading” stage has been a bit more elusive for Iowa.

So, keeping the Gophers down becomes important when you have an advantage in personnel. Iowa certainly has that this weekend.


I’m glad you went the talent and not the development route with Iowa and the wide receiver position.

You can argue the position did get what it needed under Bobby Kennedy. I’m not sure you can do that in a winning fashion, but you could point to the production, particularly, 2016 and you’d look pretty good in a court of law.

This is Kelton Copeland’s second season with Iowa’s WRs. I’m going to assume they’re getting the coaching they need.

I really do think it’s recruiting. I’ll throw this out and you guys can tell me I’m wrong: Kyle Groeneweg isn’t getting a ton of targets as a receiver, but his profile is starting to grow. He’s a senior who earned a scholarship after walking on from the University of Sioux Falls.


You can take the view that Groeneweg took advantage of an opportunity, spending one season at Iowa as a transfer redshirt and then putting himself in position to earn a scholarship. You can also take the view of how did a transfer from the University of Sioux Falls make Iowa’s receiver rotation? That’s a rock I never would’ve looked under.

And I’m not sure I would’ve looked under the Iowa Western rock for Nick Easley. Good thing someone did.

So, what will it take to get a big WR recruit?

— Numbers. Marvin McNutt happened in 2011. You slide numbers across the table at the recruit’s school or text them or whatever, and that opens eyes. A 1,000-yard receiver on a regular basis might help. (I know, Nebraska. I don’t get that, either. I don’t get how a school that’s never had a 1,000-yard receiver gets great receivers, but it does.)

— A quarterback. A charismatic QB who comes through, puts up numbers and connects socially with the WR dudes. You probably didn’t watch Baker Mayfield during “Hard Knocks.” The guy is a stone, cold leader and takes practice seriously. Yes, he had a shirtless pic in front of a Rolls-Royce with a tiger, but you’d do that, too, if you could (I would, but give me some time to straighten out the pecs).

Get Nate Stanley deeply involved in your WR recruiting. That can’t hurt. Stanley is a smart communicator. The coaches probably don’t have protocol for something like this, but get your prized QB talking with potential WRs.

— Opportunity. It really only feels like Iowa has three WRs in regular rotation — Easley, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith.

Smith-Marsette had four solid offers — Iowa, Minnesota, Boston College and Rutgers. Iowa is in it for Warren Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) wide receiver David Bell. He has 20 offers. Smith-Marsette showed there is opportunity. His performance as a true freshman at ISU was steely and brilliant. He needs to get to those moments of truth and he needs to come through.

— Philosophy. I don’t know, but I do wonder what Iowa tells wide receiver recruits. Especially when more than half of the targets go to tight ends.


It’s a tough sell. It’s going to take a “guy.” A tough receiver who isn’t looking for numbers and then finds them.

That said, I don’t expect the breakthrough moment for Iowa WR recruiting. Maybe Bell. Keep an eye there. Iowa could use that kind of hype and energy.

Poster for you, David. Thank you for the questions!


This is one of the things that gets lost on a night game. It feels like yes, but Smith-Marsette was coming off the shoulder injury against Wisconsin, so I don’t honestly know.

Let’s leave it here with Smith-Marsette. After Wisconsin, he was asked how the Hawkeyes handle it.

“We’re tough, so we’re going to be able to bounce back,” Smith-Marsette said. “That’s what you’re going to learn real quick.”

I think I see what KF sees in Smith-Marsette — a tough kid with a strong ego who desperately wants to make plays. With a lot of the Iowa skill players this year, I’ve had this swing thought: Remember the times Michael Jordan missed game-winning shots? It’s getting there and learning how to do it. I think that covers a lot of ground with Iowa’s skill players so far in 2018.

They’ve been at the top of the arc, it’s time to start sinking treys.

Poster for you, Adam. Thanks so much.


It’s the goals of Brian Ferentz’s script. Feels like he wants to start fast by playing fast. And then get to the part where Iowa’s O-line can get into goat-herding mode. The 230-pounder is the finisher in that scenario.

I’m not sure this is a Toren Young thing. I think it’s been the rhythms of the games and what Iowa has needed. This week, I think that probably changes. With four of the next five on the road, it’d be good for Iowa’s offense to be able to hit the power-running game note more often. It moves chains and imposes will. That’s what October and November are going to be if this team hits some heights. It won’t be beautiful numbers, it will be grunts and greasy goals (unexpected big plays).

That said, you know what? Young is Iowa’s leading rusher with 268 yards and 5.5 yards per carry. That’s 16th in the Big Ten. Is that a good thing? Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland and Illinois have two backs inside that top 16.

I see a big week for sophomore Ivory Kelly-Martin. He won the job in camp. It feels like they want him to be the guy. He’s had enough explosive runs (not the “Dumb and Dumber” kind) to keep my interest.

If he can get into a groove, that could help set the stage for the 230-pound finisher in the second half. Iowa gets to that, and 10-2 might be undervaluing.

Poster for you, Jon, if you’d like.

That’s all this week. Thanks for your participation.

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