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Iowa Hawkeyes Football 2019: Players to watch

Iowa will have a lot of new starters in 2019, but they bring back reliable production as well

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Iowa at Penn State Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

maiIt has been a few years since the Michigan Wolverines and Iowa Hawkeyes have faced each other. The last time Michigan faced the Hawkeyes was 2016 and they were undefeated heading into Iowa City, and left with a gut-wrenching 14-13 loss. The two teams meet again on October 5th, and this time it’s at The Big House.

Iowa players to watch

QB Nathan Stanley

Standing 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, Iowa’s signal caller has been the starter the past two seasons. His numbers have been fairly solid, putting up a 52:16 TD to INT ratio in 2017-18 combined. However, Stanley and Iowa haven’t been able to get it done when it has mattered against the best teams on their schedule. Stanley is just 1-6 against teams that have finished the season ranked in the Top 25, the one exception being a 55-24 home-cooking annihilation of Ohio State in 2017.

Complicating matters this season for Stanley will be what Iowa lost to the NFL, tight end studs Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson, along with WR Nick Easley, who accounted for about 75% of Iowa’s passing offense. Expect a dip in production from Stanley, it’s going to be extremely hard to replicate the production that was lost.

DE AJ Epenesa

Epenesa was a first-team All Big-Ten selection in 2018 after putting together on heck of a year. Epenesa had 37 tackles in 2018, along with 10.5 sacks and 8 QB hits. Epenesa is highly thought out on the scouting circuit, 247 Sports has him No. 6 on their 2020 NFL Draft Big Board. 247 goes on to say he’s “a plus athlete who’s only gotten stronger and more technically sound since arriving in Iowa City (Epenesa added 16 pounds in his first 15 months), Epenesa is exactly what teams look for off the edge. He’ll test well, too. Epenesa was a high school All-American thrower in track, and he’s been clocked at a sub-4.7-second 40-yard dash.”

Epenesa is even being compared to Nick Bosa by Saturday Tradition, who points out that Epenesa’s stats are quite similar to Bosa’s through their first two seasons.

RB’s Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent

The RB by committee returns and depth at this position is highly important, any good team has a one-two punch at their disposal. Sargent rushed for 745 yards and 9 TD’s last season, while Young had 635 yards and 5 TD’s. Both players averaged 4.7 yards per carry. However, Young has the ability to be an asset in the passing game as well, racking up 17 receptions for 156 yards last season.

Iowa always seems to have steady production at RB, and this year should be no different. Expect to see an even split in carries from this duo again in 2019.