Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
There is a reason head coach Kirk Ferentz has been at Iowa for 18 years. The Hawkeyes are generally successful, and last year UI flirted with an appearance in the college football playoffs. Thirteen starters from . . .
Wideout Matt VandeBerg notched 65 catches for 703 yards with four TDs. Running back LaShun Daniels recorded eight scores while registering 646 yards on 145 attempts.
Defensively, linebacker Josey Jewell was all over the place in 2015, when he amassed 126 tackles (7.5 tfl, 2.5 sacks, 4 INTs). DL Jaleel Johnson counted 5.5 tfl and 3.5 sacks among his 45 stops.
As for the RedHawks, their last trip to Iowa City was in 2003 when Ben Roethlisberger lined up at quarterback. Miami came up short that day, although Roethlisberger has done pretty well since then. Sophomore Billy Bahl will be at the helm this time around. He had a rough baptism as a true freshman in 2015 when head coach Chuck Martin decided to go with the youngster.
Actually, “young” applies to the RedHawks in general, as they are one of the youngest teams in college football. Martin has done well recruiting and noted his team is bigger, stronger and faster pretty much across the board.
One big key, especially true against an opponent like Iowa, will be turnovers. For a team with little margin for turnover last year, the RedHawks proved generous to a fault. Bahl played a significant part through his early starts, but he showed some improvement down the stretch. Miami, coincidentally, posted two of its wins over the final three contests.
Bahl finished the campaign completing just 99 of 221 (44.8%) for 1,416 yards with eight TDs and 13 interceptions. Seven of the picks came over two appearances.
Alonzo Smith is among several running backs who will likely share the load this year. He had 498 yards and five TDs over his 124 attempts last year.
Rokeem Williams heads an overall group of young receivers. He had 33 catches for 543 yards and scored two touchdowns in ’15.