Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2014

Hawkeyes set for pivotal year

By Hunter Tickel | Aug 01, 2013

I wanted to start my first column in Washington, Iowa by giving a shout out to my bosses at “The Journal.” They gave me my first shot in the newspaper business.
I’m sure this column will be the first of many for the Journal.
I’m a well-traveled, bigger city journalist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to community journalism. I graduated from University of Cincinnati and I free-lanced in the North Lake Shore area in Illinois covering local high schools for nearly a year.
To be here getting paid to write sports full-time is truly a blessing.
I’m here to serve you and I want to know what you want covered. But take note that I am a one-man sports team and can’t be everywhere at once. Please leave me feedback.
Without further adieu “Tickel Your Fancy” and read my football preview on the Iowa Hawkeyes.
For starters this is a massive season for head coach Kirk Ferentz heading into his 15th year at the helm in Iowa City.
As the longest tenured Big Ten coach it’s time for him to earn the stability he has been given in the past. To say he is feeling the heat is an understatement.
His lone Big Ten title was shared in 2004.
Lindy’s, a preseason sports magazine publisher, picked Iowa to finish ninth in a 12-team conference. It also had the Hawkeyes ranked a lowly 66.
It could be a long season for Iowa after a 4-8 mark last season. On the other hand, with little expectations it could be the cure this squad needs.
If you want to a game to go to, look no further than the season opener against Northern Illinois Saturday, Aug. 31.
“We’ve had softer openers,” Iowa senior linebacker James Morris said Thursday, July 25, at the Big Ten’s football media days. “But I’m not really a big fan of the concept of tune-up games. I like big games. I think games should be fun, should be exciting. There should be competition and there should be a lot at stake.”
The Huskies are coming off a 12-1 season and subsequent Orange Bowl appearance. Their lone loss was Iowa.
Back in the fold for NIU is sleeper Heisman quarterback Jordan Lynch, who if fans remember, was given the clamps by Iowa as he went 6-for-16, while passing for 54 yards in his debut last season.
If Iowa takes some pressure off by beating a MAC school at home that it should beat, then it could spell success for 2013. A loss could dampen the spirits of an already disgruntled fan base.
Wins versus Missouri State, at Iowa State and Western Michigan, are well within its grasp.
In-state rival Iowa State will be another one to circle this year. The Cyclones have won the past two meetings by a combined six points including last year’s triple overtime thriller.
A 4-0 record heading into conference play would put the Hawkeyes well on their way to bowl eligibility.
Not too shabby for a losing record the previous season. This would end a one-year postseason hiatus.
If you are looking to follow the progression of a newcomer, Reggie Spearman is your man. The 6-foot-3 and 225-pound linebacker from Simeon in Chicago was named to Team USA his senior season.
Last season Iowa’s defense was its best offensive and defensive statistical category limiting opponents to 19 points per game. Hopefully the oldest sports cliché defense wins championships, rings true.
Last season the passing game struggled and currently three guys with limited experience are competing to be under center — sophomore Jake Rudock, junior Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard.
The top NFL prospect is surely junior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. He weighs in at 315 pounds and is 6-foot-5. He is on the mend having missed the last five games due to a broken fibula and dislocated ankle.

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