Iowa football has been a good program for a long time. Their tradition and fanbase are second to none. While their on-field success over the past decade isn’t anything to sneeze at, they have had their struggles specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
With other explosive offenses in the conference, such as Ryan Day’s Buckeyes or even Lincoln Riley’s Trojans, in a couple of years, they will certainly need to improve. With that being said, Hawkeye’s offense does not look great so far this year.
Season So Far
Accumulating only seven points scored in each of their first two games and a loss to their rival Iowa State, it does not look like this team will be competing for a New Year’s 6 Bowl, let alone a Big Ten Title or a College Football Playoff birth.
With that being said, they did show some signs of life on the offense in their 27-0 victory over Nevada, with 2 of their 3 touchdowns in that game coming from their running back Kaleb Johnson.
Two of Iowa’s next four games will be against the two best teams in the Big Ten, Ohio State, and Michigan.
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 20, 2022
What Does Kaleb Johnson Offer To The Hawkeyes?
It means that they will have to pound the rock and keep those two explosive offenses off the field. Kaleb Johnson had 103 yards, 2 touchdowns, and averaged 14.3 yards a carry vs Nevada. While he may not put up those numbers against the Wolverines and the Buckeyes, he will certainly play a key role if Iowa wants to play spoiler in those games.
Despite Iowa’s rough loss to the Cyclones, Iowa’s season is not dead yet, they still have a clear path to winning the Big Ten west. If they are going to do so, however, it is going to come on the shoulders of their defense, and on the shoulders of Kaleb Johnson.
Kaleb Johnson has been the one good part of what has otherwise been a hard-to-watch offense. Kaleb Johnson is one of the most underrated backs in the Big Ten, and will no doubt play a big role in their game this Saturday against Rutgers, another surprise team in the Big Ten this year.
Rutgers is off to a 3-0 start, and while their resume is not extremely impressive they do have two hard-fought victories over Boston College and Temple. If Iowa wants to knock off Rutgers they have to feed Kaleb Johnson. Iowa’s style of play this year is nothing new to Hawkeye fans. Dominate time of possession, lean on the defense, and run the ball.
Nonetheless, if this team is going to have any success against the explosive offenses in the Big Ten this year they will need to be able to produce some explosiveness through the air. The only way to do that is to open up passing lanes through the running attack, which again will rest on the shoulders of Kaleb Johnson.
Bringing a rare combination of size and speed to the Hawkeye backfield.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) December 15, 2021
Kaleb Johnson’s Stats
The Hawkeye’s personnel this year may not be able to hold up against some of the more talented teams in the country. With that being said that was the case on November 4 2017 when the Hawkeyes blew out Ohio State and won 55-24.
The point is there’s no reason to think Iowa has no shot to be successful this year but they cannot rely on talent alone it will largely depend on game schemes and preparation. This year Kaleb Johnson’s stats are impressive, to say the least, through 3 games he has had 14 carries for 116 yards, and 2 touchdowns, and is averaging 8.3 yards per carry.
The strategy on offense should revolve around him. Iowa also consistently puts forth first-round offensive linemen which are perfect for Johnson to run behind. Not to mention the fact that Johnson’s longest run of the year so far is 55 yards. This means he adds some top-end speed that Iowa’s typical offenses are not necessarily known for.
Kaleb Johnson and the Hawkeyes’ offensive line may pay dividends down the road because of their style of play. When you look at the top of college football this year everyone outside of Georgia has a weakness that Iowa’s playstyle could exploit.
For example, the Ohio State offense is so explosive that when they are pitted up against a slow methodical team like Iowa they could get frustrated and start to make mistakes.
'Sky is the limit': True freshman running back Kaleb Johnson impresses during Iowa's shutout win:https://t.co/6i1hYDdrM7
— David Eickholt (@DavidEickholt) September 19, 2022
Is Iowa going to win out and beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff?
Probably not, however, it does not mean that they can not be in a New Year’s Six Bowl if they start utilizing Kaleb Johnson correctly. Iowa has been pushed into a corner this year and their head coach Kirk Ferentz knows it.
The question for Iowa moving forward is how will they prepare for a schedule where most of the teams they play have superior talent. It seems the best step moving forward for the Hawkeyes is to feed Kaleb Johnson.
KALEB JOHNSON RUNS IT HOME 🏠
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 18, 2022
Credits On Featured Image: Phil Roeder on Flickr