Someone to fill the void of Brandon Smith
With his nine receptions for 106 yards, Brandon Smith made his presence felt against Purdue.
Unfortunately, he was injured in the fourth quarter of that game and is not available for a couple of weeks. For an offense that just found their go-to guy, this is less than ideal.
Iowa football cannot survive without finding a go-to receiver.
Northwestern, like our last three opponents, are going to put eight or nine guys in the box to stuff the Iowa ground game. The Hawkeyes need to pass to set up the rushing attack.
This strategy works well when Iowa has a wide receiver or tight end that keeps opponents honest. Last season, the Hawkeyes had two tight ends that helped take the pressure off of the running game. This season, we found Brandon Smith in that role.
Someone needs to use the opportunity to rise up and serve as Nate Stanley’s go-to guy. Iowa’s running backs will likely play a larger role in the passing game.
However, Northwestern will isolate the running backs, by default, as Iowa football is perceived as a running team. Even in the passing game, someone else is going to need to pick up where Smith left off.
I will be watching for someone like Ihmir Smith-Marsette or Tyrone Tracy to step up to the challenge in Evanston.