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IOWA at a glance

IOWA at a glance

Holiday Bowl Football

Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette reacts after returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to put the Hawkeyes in front to stay in their Holiday Bowl win over USC.

2019: 10-3, 6-3 Big Ten (Third, West), beat USC 49-24 at the Holiday Bowl

COACH: Kirk Ferentz, 162-104 entering 22nd season at Iowa, 174-125-1 entering 25th season overall

RETURNING OFFENSIVE STARTERS (8): RB Tyler Goodson, LT Alaric Jackson, LG Mark Kallenberger, TE Sam LaPorta, C Tyler Linderbaum, RG Kyler Schott, WR Brandon Smith, WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette

RETURNING DEFENSIVE STARTERS (4): CB Dane Belton, DE Chauncey Golston, CB Matt Hankins, FS Jack Koerner

RETURNING SPECIALISTS (1): PK Keith Duncan

RETURNING STATISTICAL LEADERS: Rushing, Tyler Goodson 134-638; Passing, Spencer Petras 6-10-0-25-0; Receiving, Nico Ragaini 46-439; Tackles, Jack Koerner 81; Interceptions, Matt Hankins 2

THE GOODS: Iowa is as deep at the skill positions on offense as it has been at any point in Kirk Ferentz’s tenure. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Brandon Smith, Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy Jr. provide Iowa with a strong receiving corps and bring the ability to run the ball out of those spots. Tyler Goodson, the first freshman to ever lead Iowa in rushing, complements the abilities of seniors Mekhi Sargent and Ivory Kelly-Martin in the backfield. Four returning offensive line starters and returning tight end Sam LaPorta give Iowa plenty of offensive potential. On special teams, Iowa returns two all-Americans in kicker Keith Duncan, who set a Big Ten record with 29 field goals last season, and in kicker returner Smith-Marsette.

THE QUESTIONS: Spencer Petras replaces three-year starter Nate Stanley at quarterback, but the majority of questions for the Hawkeyes reside on defense where Chauncey Golston at end and Dane Belton, Matt Hankins and Jack Koerner in the secondary are the only returning starters from the Holiday Bowl lineup. The development of a rotation on the defensive front and growth at linebacker will dictate Iowa’s defensive success. Ryan Gersonde and Tory Taylor, a 23-year-old freshman, are competing to replace Michael Sleep-Dalton as Iowa’s punter.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The 47 victories Iowa has earned over the past five seasons are the most the Hawkeyes have ever had in a five-year period. The ability to maintain that level of success could come down to Spencer Petras’ ability to use all of the weapons at his disposal and manage games, working the clock, as multiple newcomers on the Hawkeyes’ defense settle into their roles. The results in back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Penn State will go a long way in determining the level of success Iowa enjoys this season.

THE SCHEDULE

Oct. 24 – at Purdue

Oct. 31 – Northwestern

Nov. 7 – Michigan State

Nov. 13 – at Minnesota

Nov. 21 – at Penn State

Nov. 27 – Nebraska

Dec. 5 – at Illinois

Dec. 12 – Wisconsin

Dec. 19 -- Big Ten champions week

— Steve Batterson

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