IOWA CITY, IOWA – If you were to choose one player on the Iowa football team who isn’t C.J. Beathard, Desmond King or a running back to be your pick-to-click for Saturday’s game, who would it be?
Whose presence and contribution do you think will have a significant impact against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis?
Who will make two or three plays that shift momentum or field position to Iowa’s favor?
My choice is senior tight end Henry Krieger Coble, followed closely by his cousin and fellow tight end George Kittle.
They have combined for 47 catches, 626 receiving yards and seven touchdowns this season. Henry has more catches with 29, which is second most on the team. But George has more touchdown receptions with a team-leading six to Henry’s one. George has 18 receptions this season, so he’s averaging a touchdown every third catch and 14.7 yards per catch.
Henry gets the slight edge as my pick to click because Henry is who Beathard often goes to when the Iowa offense starts to sputter. Henry also excels at making tough catches in traffic, which is likely to be the circumstance on Saturday.
George Kittle excels at making catches in space and turning them into touchdowns or big yardage. It seems like whenever an opposing defense has a blown coverage, George is who makes the defense pay for it.
George and Henry together would form one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the Iowa program. On their own, each is still a force.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has raved about Krieger Coble throughout the season, saying that nobody makes more tough catches over the middle and that he catches everything thrown his way.
“It’s all just kind of natural as far as catching the ball,” Krieger Coble said. “I’ve always been able to catch the ball.
“But just learning how to find open space and do that kind of stuff, that’s kind of come along as my career has gone on. I’m still trying to get better at it, but I’m a lot better than I was.”
Iowa’s rushing attack has been productive throughout the season, averaging an impressive 203.7 yards per game. There haven’t been many long stretches where Beathard has had to play without an effective rushing attack.
Should that happen on Saturday, Krieger Coble and his cousin George Kittle will be there to lending a helping hand or two.
That’s why they’re my top two choices outside of Beathard, King and the running backs to click on Saturday.
It would be easy to pick Beathard or King as a cornerback and return specialist or a running back as the pick to click because of the positions they play. A tight end is different, though, because there is no guarantee that Krieger Coble and Kittle will have significant roles on Saturday.
I’m just guessing they will because they have all season. And why stop now?