The Saturday Edge is very pleased to present an exclusive Iowa Hawkeye football Q & A session with Jon Miller, the Publisher of Hawkeye Nation. Hawkeye Nation provides news, information, opinion and analysis of Iowa Hawkeye football and more. You can also follow Jon on Twitter @HawkeyeNation.
Question # 1: Las Vegas has installed Michigan as the favorite to win the Legends Division this year (+110). Can Iowa realistically surprise the oddsmakers and challenge for the division title? Why?
I think that Nebraska and Michigan State have a shot at winning that division. I believe we could see a three-way tie at 6-2 from those three teams.
Michigan State’s defense still might be the best in the division, but they lose key pieces on offense. Nebraska returns seven starters on both sides of the ball and their defense has to be better this year, doesn’t it?
Michigan will be salty, but Denard Robinson is still their quarterback. Yes, he is dynamic and fun to watch but he’s so inconsistent as a passer. The best news for the Wolverines is there is a dearth of defense in the league this year. It’s a wide open race and the fact that Michigan is only +110 tells you they are not a heavy money favorite.
As for Iowa? No, I just don’t see it. This will be the most challenged Iowa defense since 2000. Last year’s holds that mantle for now, but I’d take last year’s Iowa defense over this year’s, sight unseen and feel like I put some money in the bank.
Iowa has way too many unknown factors for them all to be answered in the affirmative. However, they do have a weak schedule, which will prop them up more than they might otherwise have finished.
Question # 2: Name me a few unknown Iowa players that could become stars this season.
This is more like ‘must become’ stars for Iowa. Carl Davis on the defensive line. He’s over 300 pounds and Iowa doesn’t typically have tackles like that.
Tight end CJ Fiedorowicz is an unknown outside of Iowa City, but he won’t be after this year.
Kevonte Martin-Manley at receiver has the ability and should play more naturally this year than last year.
Question # 3: What are Iowa’s main strengths and weaknesses this season?
Returning a quarterback who throws for 3,000 yards and more than 25 touchdowns is always good. James Vandenberg is the best pure passer in the Big Ten.
I have a feeling that Iowa’s offensive line, while mostly unproven, is going to turn into a strength by October.
The defensive line is a big area of concern, to say the least.
Iowa’s biggest strength is their schedule. Most people think they should be 5-0 before their bye week. If they get to that point, then enjoy the bye and if the lines come together, then I think 9-3 is their ceiling. I don’t believe they’ll get to that. Iowa’s likely a seven win team, maybe an eight win team.
I would like to thank Jon for his participation and excellent answers to our Iowa Hawkeye football questions. If you want some great information on the Hawkeyes, check out his site: Hawkeye Nation. And don’t forget to leave us your comments below.