Welcome to week one! The 2022 college football season is finally upon us and it begins for the Iowa Hawkeyes as they host the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
There is no shortage of hype surrounding the Jackrabbits as we enter the season. They advanced to the semifinals last year in the FCS playoffs. They recover their quarterback, Mark Gronowski, from injury. They return their primary target at wide receiver and have a proven running back. Let’s get into our perspective on the Jackrabbits offense.
The Jackrabbits averaged 36 points per game last season along with 212 rushing yards per game and 229 passing yards per game. They are balanced and do what they do very well. Managing the game is one area where they did well as well. They averaged more than 31 minutes of possession time, which would have been good enough to rank in the top 30 on FBS in that statistical category.
Mark Gronowski, quarterback
Mark Gronowski resumes his place at the helm of the offense after missing last season due to injury. During his 10-game campaign in the 2020 season, he was a dangerous dual-threat quarterback with 1,565 yards and 15 passing touchdowns to finish with 577 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Gronowski can hurt a defense both ways.
Jaxon Janke, WR
The Jackrabbits’ top receiver, Jaxon Janke, also returns. The senior exploded last year with a stat of 72 receptions for 1,176 yards and five touchdowns. He is expected to be Gronowski’s number one target this fall. At 16.3 yards per catch, Janke can hurt a team on the field with his 6-foot-3, 210-pound size. He will be the size of almost every Hawkeyes cornerback and will be a big test for Week 1.
Tucker Kraft, T.E.
The Hawkeyes aren’t the only team in this game with a current tight end making the jump to the NFL next spring. Tight end Tucker Kraft had 65 receptions for 773 yards and six touchdowns. Albeit against competition from FCS, all of those numbers surpassed Sam LaPorta’s career highs. Kraft is 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, and once he’s got the ball in his hands, it takes a handful to knock him down.
Isaiah Davis, RB
In the backfield, most of the snaps should go to Isaiah Davis, a junior running back. Davis still hasn’t been his career leading rusher, but in his two seasons he has still contributed 1,519 yards and 17 touchdowns. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Davis isn’t afraid to be a puncher and will give the Hawkeyes defense all it can handle by meeting him in the hole.
While they reside in the FCS, the state of South Dakota is not far behind and will be looking to enter Kinnick Stadium and make a statement on Saturday. The Jackrabbits don’t just want to stay, they actually think they can upset the Hawkeyes. For Iowa, the defense should be ready to take on these guys and slow them down to start the season off on the right foot.
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The story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire