Kirk Ferentz will be 67 at the start of the season and although some of his staff have recently retired or stepped back from coaching, everything is business as usual for Ferentz. He recently agreed to a new contract extension that runs through the 2029 season, and he’s already the longest-serving head coach in college football as he enters his 24th season at Iowa City.
It could also be argued that Ferentz gets better with age, as Iowa has come off a season in which they won the Big Ten West Division for the second time, finishing 10-4 overall. Iowa has won 10 games in two of the last three seasons and has a 26-9 record as of 2019.
However, some will say that Iowa won 10 games last season despite its stuttering offense that ranked at or near the bottom of the Big Ten in numerous statistical categories. Iowa also ended last season in losses, being defeated 42-3 by Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game and losing to Kentucky 20-17 in the Citrus Bowl.
The offensive has struggled during most of Brian Ferentz’s tenure as offensive coordinator since 2017. Iowa has not had a first-team All-Big Ten quarterback since Drew Tate in 2004, and no Iowa quarterback has completed at least 60 percent of their passes since the 2015 season (CJ Beathard, 61.6 percent).
Fans had to wonder how good Iowa could be if the offense was just average. Defense and special teams have been rock solid, and that should be the case again.
See also: Athlon Sports’ College Football Top 25 for 2022
Iowa’s Offense Preview for 2022
You name it and Iowa probably struggled to do it on offense last season. The Hawkeyes averaged just 123.6 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. And that was with 1,000-yard rusher Tyler Goodson skipping his senior season to enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams both ran hard and were effective in the Citrus Bowl, and there will also be three other running backs on scholarship, including two new freshmen. So there are many candidates who could replace Goodson.
The quarterback is a big problem — at least among fans — as senior Spencer Petras completed just 57.3 percent of his passes last season and threw almost as many interceptions (nine) as touchdown passes (10). Junior Alex Padilla started three games when Petras was injured, but results were mixed as Padilla completed 49.1 percent of his passes and did not play in the Citrus Bowl.
The offensive line was average at best last season, with All-America center Tyler Linderbaum taking the lead, but he’s since gone to the NFL, so that’s an issue, too.
The greatest strength on offense might be passcatchers, led by senior tight end Sam LaPorta, who was on pace with 670 receiving yards and 53 catches in Iowa last season.
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At Wideout, Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV both played significant roles as true freshmen last season, and both should play even bigger roles this season.
Preview of Iowa’s defenses for 2022
Longtime defense coordinator Phil Parker has built some great defenses over the years and this might be one of his best. Three starters return to the defensive line, along with the top three linebackers, including senior middle linebacker Jack Campbell, who led the nation with 143 tackles last season.
Dane Belton’s influence will be missed in the secondary school but Parker has a knack for developing star defenders. Iowa led the nation last season with a school-record 25 interceptions, with 11 players taking at least one pass.
Belton is one of three starters in the secondary from last season to be replaced, the others being cornerback Matt Hankins and free safety Jack Koerner. But Iowa also has one of the nation’s most experienced cornerbacks, returning fifth-year senior Riley Moss, who has started in 27 games and played in 41. Moss was named Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year last season despite missing three games with a left knee injury.
Senior strong safety Kaevon Merriweather has also played extensively the past two seasons, while junior cornerback Jermari Harris was strong late last season.
See also: Big Ten Football 2022 Predictions
Preview of Iowa’s Specialists for 2022
First the good news: Tory Taylor is returning as one of the Big Ten’s top players. Taylor averaged 46.1 yards on 80 punts last season. His 80 punts were the most among any Big Ten punters. He also had 27 punts that went at least 50 yards and 39 that were put down inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
The bad news is that Iowa Kicker has to replace Caleb Shudak. Aaron Blom, Lucas Amaya and favorite walk-on Drew Stevens all fought for first place in spring practice. Also, standout returnee Charlie Jones entered the transfer portal after spring training and ended up in Purdue. Jones was named Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year last season after averaging 25.4 yards on 25 kick returns and 7.7 yards on 37 punt returns.
For over two decades, under Ferentz, Iowa has maintained a level of success where record winnings and bowl games are expected. The 2022 season should be similar, with defensive and special teams leading the way to another winning record and bowl appearance.
The question is whether the offense is doing its part or preventing Iowa from climbing to the next level.