Well, that is certainly not how Iowa wanted to wrap up its dramatic and improbable 2023 season.

This year, the Hawkeyes beat the odds (and their own abysmal offense) by winning 10 games and a B1G West title with their special teams and defense. Unfortunately, that method did not pay off against Tennessee.

A big issue — to the surprise of literally no one — was the offense, the quarterback play of Deacon Hill and the offensive line of the Hawkeyes. After facing a 14-0 deficit at halftime, Iowa was unable to find its footing in the second half and went on to record one of the worst performances of the bowl season.

Here are the key takeaways as the Vols rolled in the Citrus Bowl to a 35-0 blowout of the Hawkeyes:

Good riddance, Brian Ferentz

It’s unlikely any Iowa fan was too optimistic about the offense in one final ranked matchup under Brian Ferentz. The offensive performance was predictably horrific against SEC foe Tennessee, and the swansong for the offensive coordinator looked much like the rest of his tenure leading the unit in Iowa City.

Starting quarterback Deacon Hill wrapped up the season going 7-for-18 for 56 yards with 2 interceptions and a lost fumble before giving way to Marco Lainez. The issues are not entirely pinned on Hill as he was under duress for much of the game.

The rushing attack also underwhelmed with 3.1 yards per carry. Lainez led the team with 51 rushing yards, and Kaleb Johnson was the top running back performer with 7 carries for 34 yards.

In total, the Hawkeyes ended the game with 173 total yards of offense while going 2-for-15 on 3rd-down conversions. It was one final tough pill to swallow for Iowa’s offense under Ferentz.

Tory Taylor wraps up a magnificent career

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but punter Tory Taylor was the key performer for the Hawkeyes. In fact, he even toppled the FBS record for punting yards in a season, a record that stood since 1938.

There’s no doubt Taylor will find an NFL punting job to continue his career at the next level and he concluded his collegiate career with another gem. Iowa called on Taylor 7 times in the game, and he averaged 51.4 yards per punt with a pair of kicks downed inside the 20-yard line.

His longest punt went 62 yards as Taylor finishes the 2023 season with 5 games averaging 50+ yards per punt.

Can Cade McNamara be the savior of this offense?

The issues of the offense and QB Deacon Hill are well-documented. And yet, there is a lot of optimism that missing Cade McNamara was a huge blow for the offense.

There’s no denying the offense is better with McNamara but how much better is up for debate. After all, McNamara was completing just 51.1% of his passes at the time of his season-ending injury with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Iowa’s offense will look different next season with a new offensive coordinator, and that will make a great impact. Still, fans should be hesitant to pin all the offensive hopes on McNamara.

It must be considered that McNamara will once again miss a fair amount of the offseason due to his injury, another year limiting his development due to total time missed. He will also have a tough task leading this unit if the Hawkeyes do not address the offensive line and wide receiver positions in the offseason.

McNamara returning will help, but his presence alone is not enough to get optimistic for the offense next season. The Hawkeyes need to do some heavy lifting on the coaching staff and with the roster to turn this thing around.