Chad and Danny break down the Hawkeyes performance last week and take a look ahead to what it will take to beat Indiana. Brian Powers, firstname.lastname@example.org
That's probably the best description of Iowa's 4-1 mark (1-1 in the Big Ten Conference) following last weekend's 48-31 victory at Minnesota. It wasn't quite the thumping that fans may have hoped for, but the Hawkeyes are proving that they're capable of belonging in that ranked-team discussion.
That talk will likely become reality with another road win this weekend at Indiana (4-2, 1-2). And, if Iowa truly is worthy of the top 25, then this is another take-care-of-business kind of game.
Here's a little more about the Hawkeyes' starters for Saturday's 11 a.m. contest (ESPN2):
Quarterback: No. 4, Nate Stanley (6-foot-4, 242 pounds, junior) — Good Stanley made more appearances than Less-Good Stanley last week, and the result was a Floyd of Rosedale victory that was never truly in doubt (think positively!). Two touchdown passes this week would tie Stanley with Chuck Hartlieb for seventh all-time at Iowa.
Running back: No. 21, Ivory Kelly-Martin (5-10, 200, sophomore) — The good news: Kelly-Martin continued to look healthy in Minnesota, notching a career-high 20 carries against the Gophers. But averaging less than 2.5 yards per plunge (20 carries, 47 yards) is not a script that is begging for a sequel.
Fullback: No. 36, Brady Ross (6-0, 245, Jr.) — A marked improvement in the ground game will need more than a little help from the upperclassman bruiser. (That touch-to-first-down rate is still stellar, though. Now 8-for-9!)
Tight end: No. 87, Noah Fant (6-5, 241, Jr.) —Fant's family of fans has spoken more loudly about his playing time than the junior has. The bigger concern is whether the stud threat in the passing game will play at all (possible concussion protocol).
Tight end: No. 38, T.J. Hockenson (6-5, 250, Soph.) — How much fun was the swinging gate play last week? It was just a 4-yard run, but the Chariton native will probably keep that score on his personal highlight reel the rest of his life.
Iowa sophomore T.J. Hockenson is basically an every-down tight end; he talks about that plus the potency of he and Noah Fant at that positiion. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
Split end: No. 12, Brandon Smith (6-3, 219, Soph.) — Long-awaited positive news for the receiving corps; Iowa's true wideout trio (Smith, along with Nick Easley and Ihmir Smith-Marsette) combined for 14 catches, 198 yards and two touchdowns last week. Smith had five grabs and 68 yards to contribute to that total.
Wide receiver: No. 84, Nick Easley (5-11, 205, senior) — There's bad news that comes with those gaudier receiving numbers, though. That same threesome had just 24 catches, 311 yards and a single score before the Minnesota romp. So consistency has been in short supply.
Left tackle: No. 77, Alaric Jackson (6-7, 320, Soph.) — The sacks-allowed number (which has been low most of the season and is still at just five) was almost spotless, but Jackson gave up the lone hiccup last week to Minnesota's Carter Coughlin.
Left guard: No. 59, Ross Reynolds (6-4, 295, Sr.) — Nate Stanley is no doubt improving his accuracy on his own, but that jump in completion percentage from 55.8 percent last season to 61.7 so far in 2018 has to involve an increased confidence in his offensive line. The one-sack effort came in Iowa's most pass-happy game of the season to date (39 attempts).
COACHES' CALL OF THE WEEK: 'New Kirk' falls just short
Center: No. 69, Keegan Render (6-4, 307, Sr.) — Render anchors an offensive line that, as a program, hasn't been shut out in almost 18 years (Oct. 14, 2000). That streak of 211 games is second-longest in the Big Ten (Nebraska, 272).
Right guard: No. 76, Dalton Ferguson (6-4, 308, Sr.) — Expect the rotational game with Cole Banwart to continue at this spot, even though Ferguson maintains his position atop the depth chart.
Right tackle: No. 74, Tristan Wirfs (6-5, 320, Soph.) — ... They grow up so fast. Wirfs began his starting foray around the halfway mark of last season. This'll be his second Week 6 start for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledges he's aware of outside noise that Fant has played roughly 18 snaps per game fewer than fellow TE T.J. Hockenson. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
Left end: No. 98, Anthony Nelson (6-7, 271, Jr.) — Last week's damage: three first-half sacks. Four solo tackles. One Big Ten defensive player of the week award. Enough said.
Left tackle: No. 90, Sam Brincks (6-5, 275, Sr.) — Brincks helps anchor a defensive line that still ranks in the top five in the country in rushing yards allowed (84.4).
Right tackle: No. 96, Matt Nelson (6-8, 295, Sr.) — And that stingy total in rushing is part of the reason why the Hawkeyes are fourth in the nation in total defense (272.4 yards). Only Michigan is better in the Big Ten.
Right end: No. 40, Parker Hesse (6-3, 261, Sr.) — Hesse and Epenesa were unusually quiet from this position last week. The pair combined for three tackles.
Outside linebacker: No. 35 Barrington Wade (6-1, 233, Soph.) — A last-minute bait-and-switch put Amani Hooker in as the starter at this spot instead of Wade. The true first start for the sophomore should occur this week.
Middle linebacker: No. 34, Kristian Welch (6-3, 238, Jr.) — Welch had been losing the lengthy battle for starting playing time to Djimon Colbert, but Jack Hockaday's injury puts this still-reliable junior back in the starting fray.
Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch says playing the middle spot isn't too different from being on the weakside. How is he approaching his starting role? Mark Emmert, email@example.com
Weak-side linebacker: No. 32, Djimon Colbert (6-1, 234, freshman) — Colbert has his chance to cement his starting spot permanently the next couple of weeks, given Iowa's attrition at this position.
Left cornerback: No. 20, Julius Brents (6-2, 180, Fr.) — Matt Hankins wasn't ready last week, after all. One start, one interception for Julius Brents. Any questions?
Strong safety: No. 27, Amani Hooker (6-0, 210, Jr.) — A modest homecoming — three tackles, including a couple at key times — but a most successful homecoming with Floyd of Rosedale in tow.
Free safety: No. 30, Jake Gervase (6-1, 212, Sr.) — Gervase continues to remain reliable at the safety spot. Another half-dozen tackles last week, good for third on the team (behind Djimon Colbert and quasi-suspended Amani Jones).
Iowa safety Jake Gervase on the difficulty of defending the Indiana offense and more shuffling in store for Hawkeye defense Mark Emmert, firstname.lastname@example.org
Right cornerback: No. 33, Riley Moss (6-0, 185, Fr.) — Can't ask for much more from Riley Moss in his first start. A pair of interceptions to go with five tackles (four solo) against the Gophers rightfully earned the Ankeny Centennial grad freshman-of-the-week honors from the Big Ten.
Kicker: No. 91, Miguel Recinos (6-1, 193, Sr.) — Keep plugging along. Made both his attempts last week, both from 40 yards or closer.
Punter: No. 7, Colten Rastetter (6-1, 213, Jr.) — He played a convincing part well behind center on the fake field-goal play. Won't win a Daytime Emmy, but it could make a local car commercial someday after graduation.
Kickoff returns: No. 6, Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6-1, 175, Soph.) — Smith-Marsette turned in a multifaceted day last week. Popped off a 49-yard return in the kicking game to go with his team-high 78 receiving yards (and a touchdown) in Minneapolis.
Punt returns: No. 14, Kyle Groeneweg (5-10, 186, Sr.) — No punt returns last week, so there hasn't been a chance to totally wash out the taste of that Wisconsin turnover.
INDIANA PROJECTED STARTERS
Quarterback: No. 12, Peyton Ramsey (6-2, 210, Soph.)
Running back: No. 21, Stevie Scott (6-2, 236, Fr.)
Wide receiver: No. 25, Luke Timian (6-0, 195, Sr.)
Wide receiver: No. 15, Nick Westbrook (6-3, 215, Jr.)
Wide receiver: No. 3, Ty Fryfogle (6-2, 212, Soph.)
Tight end: No. 86, Peyton Hendershot (6-4, 245, Fr.)
Left tackle: No. 54, Coy Cronk (6-5, 309, Jr.)
Left guard: No. 76, Wes Martin (6-3, 316, Sr.)
Center: No. 50, Nick Linder (6-3, 306, Sr.)
Right guard: No. 72, Simon Stepaniak (6-4, 311, Jr.)
Right tackle: No. 62, Brandon Knight (6-5, 307, Sr.)
Defensive end: No. 69, Gavin Everett (6-3, 262, Jr.)
Defensive end: No. 35, Nile Sykes (6-2, 252, Sr.)
Defensive tackle: No. 98, Jerome Johnson (6-3, 295, Soph.)
Defensive tackle: No. 54, Ja'merez Bowen (6-4, 311, Sr.)
Linebacker: No. 43, Dameon Willis Jr. (6-1, 225, Sr.)
Linebacker: No. 7, Reakwon Jones (6-2, 235, Jr.)
"Husky": No. 42, Marcelino Ball (6-2, 222, Soph.)
Cornerback: No. 28, A'Shon Riggins (6-0, 118, Jr.) OR No. 17, Raheem Layne (6-1, 195, Soph.)
Cornerback: No. 14, Andre Brown Jr. (6-0, 200, Jr.)
Safety: No. 9, Jonathan Crawford (6-2, 196, Sr.)
Safety: No. 29, Khalil Bryant (5-10, 202, Jr.)
Kicker: No. 82, Logan Justus (5-11, 180, Jr.)
Punter: No. 94, Haydon Whitehead (6-2, 205, Jr.)
Kick returns: No. 2, Reese Taylor (5-11, 184, Fr.)
Punt returns: No. 5, J-Shun Harris II (5-8, 172, Sr.)