The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point-Counterpoint | What needs to change for Iowa football?

Pregame Reporter Cooper Worth thinks offensive play calling needs to change, while Sports Reporter Brad Schultz thinks the offensive line is Iowa football’s biggest concern.
Grace Smith
An Iowa fan reacts to a play during a football game between Iowa and Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 26-16.

Offensive play calling

It seems like a broken record, but if the run game isn’t clicking for Iowa, watching the offense can be pain-inducing for anyone mindful of how they want to spend their Saturdays.

After last season’s abysmal performance by the offense, which saw them finishing last in nearly every offensive category, fans seemed optimistic going into this season with the addition of several transfers and a newly established clause in the offensive coordinator’s contract. But so far this season not much has changed, as Iowa is currently 129th in total yards and 126th in passing yards.

I know old-fashioned Hawkeye fans will chirp that it’s all null-in-void since Iowa is currently 4-1, but if the team doesn’t want to get blown out again by the likes of Penn State and Ohio State, they must roll the dice and open the playbook. This starts by getting the wide receivers involved in the passing game.

Iowa’s wide receivers totaled 20 catches so far this season, leaving little to no threat of this unit making an impact in the passing game. Defenses have been stacking the box — almost daring Iowa to pass, and they’ve succeeded. It’s no secret that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz likes to run passing plays geared to the tight ends, but the Hawkeyes need to change formations up to get athletes open.

Screens were successful in the Penn State game early on, but defenses can start to get wind of them, and Iowa should get their more athletic, yard-after-the-catch type receivers in these positions. There were several receiver drops in the Michigan State game. You can’t entirely blame the offensive coordinator for that, but Ferentz should be able to use some sort of imagination to scheme guys open.

Offensive line

Without a doubt, Iowa football needs to change something fast to prevent its season from going off the rails. No, it’s not the offensive coordinator; it’s the offensive line that desperately needs to improve for the Hawkeyes to reach their full potential in 2023.

Under head coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has historically curated an average offensive unit, but the main reason why so many of his teams have been successful is because of the dominance in the trenches.

But in the last few seasons, things have taken a turn for the worse. Iowa’s O-line has gotten weaker by the season, and this year they have hit rock bottom. Quarterback Cade McNamara has had little time to throw, and the run game continues to struggle against formidable opponents. After McNamara’s left leg was injured Sept. 30, we can expect the O-line to struggle more than ever.

Last season, this unit was inexperienced, but even with more in-game experience under their belts, I still have not seen much offensive improvement compared to last season. At times, it looks like they are confused out there, missing numerous key blocks, and they are not picking up blitzes very well.

Expectedly, Brian Ferentz gets most of the criticism from the Iowa fanbase, but it is difficult for any of his play calls to work without any sort of protection from the offensive line.

Although he has only spent three years at Iowa, offensive line coach George Barnett has over 20 years of coaching experience, and his group needs to improve quickly for Iowa to compete for a trip to Indianapois.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.