Storyline #4: Will the Hawks re-establish a running game?
The Iowa football team is known for playing smashmouth football and part of that formula is establishing a run game and ramming the ball down the opposing defense’s throats.
Last year, the Hawkeyes run game was horrendous as Brian Ferentz tried figuring out who made sense out of his three-headed monster at running back.
Mekhi Sargent appears to have taken the lead for the job, and the biggest issue from last year (interior offensive line) has been hopefully improved (or at least there will be two new faces).
With an inexperienced (albeit very talented) defense, an established run game presence will give the defense time to rest while also wearing down the opposing team’s defense, which will likely open up the passing attack for Nate Stanley.
The last two years, in the absence of a run game, Stanley relied heavily on slot wide receiver Nick Easley to move the ball 4 to 7 yards at a time and Easley put up nice production, but it’s still not the same as actually having a running game.
Stanley and the Hawkeyes’ offense is good enough to win 8 games without a run game, but it will be crucial for them to get this going if they want to make a run at something huge like the College Football Playoffs.