10 most critical questions Iowa must answer in 2022
Anchored by its perennially stout defense, Iowa won another B1G West title last season. However, the Hawkeyes still haven’t won a B1G title since 2004. So, like every year since then, this season opens with plenty of questions to be answered.
There is the tough task of replacing RB Tyler Goodson’s production, the QB battle, and staff changes. Just to name a few.
Quarterback play has topped the list of concerns for several years running, and Brian Ferentz moving from coaching TEs to QBs may or may not be the solution. That and other Hawkeyes issues follow in our list of 10 key questions facing the program in 2022.
1. How will Iowa replace Tyler Goodson this season?
Goodson gave Iowa what running threat it had last year, but now he’s with the Green Bay Packers. It’s time for Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams to embrace their roles in the Iowa backfield.
Gavin Williams trailed only Goodson in carries last year, so he appears to be the next man up. The Hawkeyes don’t have a lot of other options with Ivory Kelly-Martin graduating after getting the 3rd-most carries among Iowa’s backs in 2021. The Hawkeyes may end up using the Williamses, both sophomores, in an RB tandem. Gavin ran for 305 yards on 65 carries last year; Leshon for 69 on 21.
The two young RBs could excel in Kirk Ferentz’s offense if it all pans out.
2. Can Brian Ferentz solve Iowa’s QB woes?
Iowa will be keeping its QB coaching duties in the Ferentz family. Brian Ferentz is set to do double-duty as the team’s OC/QB coach in 2022. Whether Alex Padilla or Spencer Petras is at the helm, Iowa needs to find some consistent QB play.
Iowa had a middle-of-the-pack finish when it came to passing yards per game in 2021. The Hawkeyes finished 9th in that stat in the B1G with 180.1 yards per game, with Petras getting the bulk of the playing time. Neither QB excelled, to say it nicely, and something needs to change for Iowa to compete for a B1G title.
3. Who should be the starting QB?
This is a question that has been bugging Iowa fans since last season. Will it be Alex Padilla or Spencer Petras? Petras is the more experienced of the two, and started for the majority of the 2021 season. Padilla showed promise at times.
However, both of them struggled quite a bit, too. Padilla had 636 yards passing with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, while Petras had 1,880 yards passing with 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
As it stands currently, Petras is listed as the 1st-team QB on the Iowa athletics website.
4. Does Iowa have enough talent to repeat as West champs?
Losing players like Tyler Goodson, Tyler Linderbaum and Dane Belton is always going to hurt your chances at a division title. However, the Hawkeyes have a lot of talent coming back on both sides of the ball.
Iowa still has Jack Campbell, who led the team in tackles (140), and Joe Evans, who was the team’s sacks leader (7). They are also returning some key pieces in the secondary, with Riley Moss and Jermari Harris coming back. The receiving yards leader, tight end Sam LaPorta, is still in Iowa City as well.
The problem is, the B1G West looks particularly tough and balanced this year, with Purdue, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota all on the rise.
5. Can Jack Campbell have an even better year in 2022?
Jack Campbell had a monster breakout season for Iowa in 2021. His numbers included 140 tackles, 1 sack, 5 pass deflections and 1 interception. Going into his senior year, he’ll look to finish strong. Can he repeat those numbers and even surpass them?
One thing’s for certain, Iowa may need his leadership on defense once again if there’s any chance of the Hawkeyes repeating as B1G West champs. It’ll be up to Campbell to prove just how great he can be.
6. How many wins will Iowa have in 2022?
Roster turnover can be a killer in college football. Fortunately, Iowa knows that the defense should be taken care of. The problem lies on the offensive side of the ball.
If Petras/Padilla ends up having a breakout season, and if either Williams is the answer in the run game, this team could be capable of winning 10-11 games. The floor for this team should be 6-7 wins.
7. Will Iowa have a better turnover margin than last season?
The Hawkeyes were 11th in the country in turnover margin in 2021 with +11. Iowa had 19 turnovers, but forced 30. This was the best turnover margin in the B1G.
This could depend on if Petras or Padilla finally cleans up the interceptions. Iowa is still going to be tough to handle on defense, but to reach last year’s monster numbers, the new pieces will have to acclimate quickly.
8. Can the Hawkeyes rebound vs. Wisconsin?
Since 2016, Wisconsin is 5-1 against Iowa. The Badgers could once again be the team that stands in the Hawkeyes’ path to the B1G West crown.
What’s scary about Wisconsin is that it will still have budding superstar Braelon Allen running through people. Not to mention that the defense should be a huge factor in 2022 as well. If last year’s meeting is any indication, Paul Chryst has Iowa’s number as of late.
9. Can Iowa break the spell of Jeff Brohm and Purdue?
Another potential problem for Iowa is also in the B1G West. That problem is Jeff Brohm and Purdue.
Much like Wisconsin, Brohm also hasn’t had that hard of a time with the Hawkeyes. Brohm has a 4-1 record against Iowa since taking over head coaching duties at Purdue in 2017. Even with Tyler Goodson and company on offense, Purdue still managed to dismantle Iowa last season in a 24-7 victory. The Hawkeyes might run into some trouble if they can’t keep up with the Boilermakers on offense.
10. Will the Hawkeyes develop a go-to threat in the WR room?
The Hawkeyes haven’t had much luck with their WRs recently.
That was true once again last season, as TE Sam LaPorta led the team in receiving yards with 670. The next closest in that stat was Keagan Johnson with 352. Iowa has options at WR like Johnson, Arland Bruce IV, Nico Ragaini, Jack Johnson and Jacob Bostik. Can one of them break the mold and become a big-time receiver for Iowa?