With the 2017 college football season just a month and a half away, many questions remain about the Iowa Football team. These are three projections I envision occurring this upcoming season for the Hawkeyes.
1. Tyler Wiegers will win the starting quarterback job.
Both Wiegers and Nathan Stanley are vying for the starting quarterback position. As it stands, they are in a dead heat according to the players and coaching staff. Although Stanley was ahead of Wiegers on the depth chart in 2016, Wiegers will be the starting quarterback against Wyoming this year.
There has only been a small sample size of in game experience by each quarterback. Wiegers has completed three of four passes for 32 yards, while Stanley has thrown for 62 yards on five of nine attempts.
What exactly separates Wiegers from Stanley? From the spring game, it looked as though Wiegers was more confident in running the offense. While he was picked off twice, he also completed some excellent passes into tight windows while Stanley did not. The redshirt junior is a more vocal leader and better game manager than Stanley as well.
2. Brandon Smith will be a starting receiver by the end of the year.
If you don’t believe me, turn on his game film. Smith owns a 6’3, 205 pound frame of muscle. He is more polished than any receivers currently on Iowa’s roster outside of Matt Vandeberg.
The Mississippi native is a perfect fit for the Hawkeyes’ offense as he is a physical blocker and a big target that could become a force in the red zone. He also showed the ability to be an effective receiver on screen plays, as he possesses a knack for shedding tacklers.
He most likely will not start in the first few games, as Iowa will likely give a chance to returning receivers Devonte Young and Adrian Falconer. Nevertheless, by the end of the season Smith will be on the field almost every offensive play along with Vandeberg.
3. The inexperienced secondary will be one of the best in the Big Ten.
Only one starter returns from last year’s defensive backfield in hard-hitting strong safety Miles Taylor. Cornerback Manny Rugamba also has four starts under his belt, as an injury to Greg Mabin gave him an opportunity to shine in 2016. The Illinois native filled in nicely for Mabin as he played just as good, if not better than the now graduated defensive back.
The other starting cornerback for Iowa will be junior Josh Jackson. Jackson saw time as a nickel corner last year and often manned up against opponent’s number one receivers due to his size at 6’1. In his time on the field, he showed flashes of brilliance as he possess great technique in coverage.
The most inexperienced starter in the 2017 secondary will be junior Jake Gervase. In past seasons, Gervase has served a role as a special teams player. However, he won the starting free safety job in spring by beating out sophomore Amani Hooker. The former walk-on impressed in the spring game nabbing three interceptions. He owns the ability to jump routes and is an extremely heady player.