IOWA CITY, Ia. – If everything goes according to script Saturday, a new Iowa football star will emerge.
It’s generally assumed the Hawkeyes will win the 11 a.m. game against Missouri State. They’re a 24.5-point favorite.
The 67,000 or so fans who filter into Kinnick Stadium will be looking for a blowout victory and breakout performances.
Is this running back LeShun Daniels’ time to shine? How about receiver Damond Powell? Will cornerbacks Desmond King and Sean Draper make an impact?
It’s doubtful coach Kirk Ferentz would offer much behind-the-scenes pregame insight. He’s well aware that eight teams from the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision knocked off big-school programs last week.
Missouri State is an FCS member, and Iowa is trying to snap a seven-game losing streak.
“I’m sure they are going to come in here ready to go,” Ferentz said, “and we need to be ready.”
The Bears, however, arrive in Iowa City having won just six of their past 26 games, dating to 2010.
So, don’t expect lot of suspense Saturday afternoon.
Fortunately, the Hawkeyes have a history of providing intriguing subplots in convincing wins:
–In 2005, Shonn Greene made his debut while Iowa routed Ball State 56-0.
The future all-American ran for 116 yards on 18 carries, but his initial contributions came on special teams.
Greene finished with three solo tackles, the same as freshman defensive lineman Mitch King. Both went on to the NFL.
–The seeds of a quarterback controversy were sown in 2008, during a 46-3 win over Maine.
Ricky Stanzi entered in the second quarter and completed 9 of 14 passes for 90 yards. A week later, in a 42-0 thumping of Florida International, Stanzi went 8-of-10 for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Jake Christensen’s reign as the starter came to an end a few weeks later.
–Iowa didn’t exactly run roughshod over Northern Iowa a year ago, winning 27-16, but Mark Weisman subdued the Panthers with 113 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Weisman had just two carries in the Hawkeyes’ previous two games, but moved up the depth chart after injuries slowed Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon.
Who will steal the spotlight today?
Daniels, a 6-foot, 215-pound true freshman, is waiting for his first carry.
“Our plan was to play him (against Northern Illinois),” Ferentz said. “Just didn’t open up. He’s definitely on the straight-ahead list right now.”
Daniels, a Warren, Ohio, native, ran for 1,614 yards and 15 touchdowns as a high school senior.
“He’s pretty big,” Bullock said. “He’s young, so he’s got a lot of room for improvement, but he’s pretty powerful.”
Powell had one catch in his Hawkeye debut that went for 49 yards last week in the 30-27 loss to the Huskies. He also was the target of a long third-and-1 pass, but it fell incomplete.
Powell averaged 30 yards on his 41 receptions as a sophomore at Snow (Utah) Community College.
“Definitely has a lot of potential,” quarterback Jake Rudock said. “He still has more to learn, as we all do, but having him as a speed demon definitely helps and can give you a little more explosion.”
King and Draper are listed as backups, but starting cornerbacks B.J. Lowery and Jordan Lomax have been nursing injuries.
“We think both of them should be back,” Ferentz said of Lowery and Lomax. “We’ll see how it goes.”
There are other candidates to break out today, as well.
Some would like to catch a glimpse of reserve quarterback C.J. Beathard. A few more tosses to the tight ends wouldn’t hurt. And freshman defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson is seeking his first tackle.
The only possible spoiler to finding a breakout performer? If Missouri State, a 23-17 loser last week to Northwestern State, threatens to pull off an upset.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football