Point-counterpoint: Who should Iowa’s offense target after the bye week?
Moving on from the bye week, the Hawkeye offense has to find a way to find its groove again. But who is the best player to help it do that?
October 1, 2018
Let me state the obvious really quickly: Iowa’s offense is so much better when its best playmakers are involved.
Take the game against Northern Iowa for example.
In the 38-14 win, the offense finally got on track, with Nick Easley leading the way offensively. The Hawkeyes looked Easley’s way early and often, and he responded by catching 10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
In the other three games? A total of 2 receptions for 29 yards. Not the kind of numbers a No. 1 receiver such as Easley should have.
The offense struggled mightily against Iowa State and in the first half against Northern Illinois. But if you put one of those games next to the battle against the Panthers, they look like completely different games.
The offense was in such a rhythm against Northern Iowa, and a large part of that was thanks to Easley’s ability to allow the offense to settle in. He made plays when his name was called. He was consistent. He did exactly what he needed to do.
It’s worth noting that Iowa’s next leading receiver that game was Noah Fant, who caught 5 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
A tight end-wide receiver duo such as Fant and Easley is hard to stop. It’s very helpful for a quarterback to have two pass-catchers he can trust in any situation, and Fant and Easley fill that role.
The Hawkeyes need to get Easley and Fant involved as early and often as possible.
Iowa’s offense is nothing without its running game, and a major part of that is Toren Young — when he gets the ball.
In the injury absence of counterpart Ivory Kelly-Martin, Young proved that he can step up into the running-back role. He has 49 carries for 242 yards for an average of 5.5 yards per carry this season.
Kelly-Martin came back to play against Wisconsin and took most of the carries. However, through the season, Young’s average yards per carry has been greater than Kelly-Martin’s.
Maybe it’s just me, but don’t you want to go to the guy who averages longer runs more often? I’m pretty sure gaining ground is what the offense is meant to do.
Kelly-Martin and Young both should be on the field with their individual skills, and when a team has that much talent at the position, that should allow flexibility. But in a situation where you absolutely need to put points on the board, the decision to hand the ball to Young should be simple.
Minnesota can’t defend good running teams, as seen against Maryland. This is Iowa’s chance to really hone in on its craft and run the ball as much as possible — yes, maybe (probably) on third down.
Give Young the ball, and let him do what he does best. It’s that simple.