Here are the answers to 4 questions we had before the Hawkeye football season

Through four games, The Daily Iowan football staff looks back on four questions it asked in the preseason.

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Here are the answers to 4 questions we had before the Hawkeye football season

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette makes a cut during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette makes a cut during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette makes a cut during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette makes a cut during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

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At the beginning of the year, the Daily Iowan football staff asked four questions about the Hawkeye football team. Now, the Hawkeyes are four weeks into the season and currently in their bye week, and some of the questions have been answered — partially, at least.

Will Nate Stanley live up to the hype?

Answer: So far, partially.

Stanley entered 2018 with massive expectations, especially after Colin Cowherd tabbed him as one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Through his first two games, the hype did not appear in line with the on-field production.

RELATED: Iowa football’s road to the Big Ten championship is a long one

Against Northern Illinois and Iowa State, the junior completed 27 of his 51 passes (52.9 percent) for 274 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.

Things picked up against Northern Iowa and Wisconsin, though. In those two games, Stanley went 37-for-51 (72.5 percent), throwing 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. His 256-yard, 2-touchdown performance against Wisconsin looked promising, too.

How will the three new linebackers fare?

Answer: Better than expected.

Phil Parker shuffled his defense around this season, but through four games, the three starting linebackers are Nick Niemann, Jack Hockaday, and Kristian Welch.

Niemann’s transition from bench player to full-time starter seemed flawless — he has 22 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and 1 sack.

Hockaday started out on the bench but was called upon after Amani Jones saw his way to the sidelines against Northern Illinois. Hockaday hasn’t looked back since and has anchored the position. He leads the team with 28 tackles.

Welch’s weakside position was his against Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, but Djimon Colbert saw time at that spot and played fairly well. Welch appears to be the starter, but don’t be surprised if the two rotate at times — Parker has plenty of positives to work with.

Welch is second on the team with 26 tackles despite missing the Iowa State contest. In the season-opener against Northern Illinois, he had 11 tackles, 1 sack, and a forced fumble.

How will the secondary hold up without Josh Jackson?

Answer: It’s been solid.

Iowa’s secondary looked sharp against Northern Illinois, Iowa State, and then for most of the Northern Iowa game. However, against Wisconsin, things fell apart, especially on the Badgers’ go-ahead drive.

Iowa’s pass rush certainly helped out the secondary during the nonconference, giving opposing quarterbacks little to no time to drop back and pass. Against Wisconsin, the pressure was nonexistent (the Hawkeyes technically recorded 1 sack, and it was due to an intentional-grounding penalty). Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook had time to pass, finishing 17-of-22 for 205 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Through four games, opposing quarterbacks have completed 61.5 percent of their throws. Iowa finished last season holding quarterbacks to 56 percent.

Amani Hooker leads the team with 2 passes defended, and he and Michael Ojemudia are the two Hawkeyes with interceptions this season.

Will the receivers step up?

Answer: Not consistently.

Everyone thought Iowa would run its passing game through Noah Fant in 2018, but, aside from the Northern Iowa game, it hasn’t. Fant had 5 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown in the Hawkeye win — one third of his catches and more than half of his yardage total this season came during that game.

The same goes for Nick Easley, who led Iowa in receptions last season. He had 10 catches for 103 yards against the Panthers — the best performance by any Hawkeye in the receiving game this season. But he’s had 2 catches (yes, you read that correctly) in Iowa’s other games.

T.J. Hockenson has been a somewhat-consistent target for Stanley, but aside from him, none of the Hawkeyes have shown the ability to be consistent in the passing game.

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