So for my part, I feel optimistic. There has been much made of the Iowa defense over the past couple of weeks. And they certainly have a decent defensive resume. Iowa allowed only 15 points per game last season.
Offensively, I am not so sure. For all the talk of a balanced Iowa offense, there seems to be a glaring weak spot at QB. Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi passed for 17 TDs and 15 INTs last season. That sounds like a recipe for disaster for an Iowa team about to face a solid secondary in a tremendously loud and hostile stadium.
The offensive plan for Iowa looks to be to set up the pass with the run. And I can see why they would. It has become accepted practice for the national sports media to criticize the Arizona LBs. They are replacing 3 starters with 2 JUCOs and a guy that never started a game in college. The assessment is that the LBs will make mistakes, miss tackles, be in over their heads. I disagree. I strongly believe that LB Derek Earls will make his presence known during the Iowa game. I didn’t see a LB corps that will make constant mistakes in the first two weeks. Say what you will about the quality of the opponents, the fact is that the LBs proved they have a grasp of the Arizona defense.
As for the Defensive Line, I am confused by the concern. DEs Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed are amazing. Period. They will pressure Stanzi all night long. The inside of the line will be capably filled by 6’2", 280lb. Sione Tuihalamaka and 6’2", 305lb. Lolomana Mikaele.
So, my prediction. Iowa will rush well, scoring one or two TDs on the ground. Stanzi will account for at least one turnover, possibly more. The Arizona defense will prove that it is a legitimately good squad. And the Arizona offense will remind everyone why QB Nick Foles is in the discussion for the Heisman this season, and why RB Nic Grigsby was last season before suffering an injury.
Arizona wins, 21 - 14.
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