By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team had its first spring practice on Tuesday, and its first spring practice in nearly two years.
That shows that life is slowly getting back to normal during a global pandemic.
And as a way to mark the start of spring practice, the two guys that never seem to agree on anything Hawkeye related held another debate.
As usual, one’s glass was half full, while the other’s was half empty.
Mr. Optimist: The Iowa football team is 12-3 over its last 15 games and 53-21 overall since the start of the 2015 season, including three bowls wins.
Mr. Pessimist: The Iowa football team hasn’t won a Big Ten title since 2004, and has won just one division title back in 2015.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa returns one of the Big Ten’s top running backs in junior Tyler Goodson, who last season became the first Hawkeye running back to make first-team All-Big since Shonn Greene in 2008.
Mr. Pessimist: Goodson will run behind an offensive line that returns just one full-time starter in junior center Tyler Linderbaum.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa returns one of the top punters in the Big Ten in sophomore Tory Taylor.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa has to replace one of the most reliable kickers in program history in 2019 consensus All-American Keith Duncan.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa’s 2021 regular-season schedule does not include Ohio State.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa’s first two games are against Indiana at home and against Iowa State in Ames, and both of those teams are on the rise and led by highly popular head coaches. So it could be another 0-2 start.
Mr. Optimist: Zach VanValkenburg’s decision to return for a fifth season at defensive end is a significant boost for the Iowa defense.
Mr. Pessimist: Defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon’s decision to skip his senior season to enter the 2021 NFL Draft is a significant setback for the Iowa defense.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa showed great resiliency and resolve last season by winning its final six games after having started the season 0-2.
Mr. Pessimist: None of the six teams that Iowa defeated last season finished with a winning record and had a combined record of 18-28.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa has a 51-28-3 all-time record against Northwestern dating back to when the series started in 1897.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa has a 10-14 record against Northwestern dating back to the 1995 season, and has lost four of the last five games in the series.
Mr. Optimist: Junior Sam LaPorta is showing signs of being Iowa’s next great tight end.
Mr. Pessimist: No tight end on the Iowa roster, besides LaPorta, has caught a pass in college.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa averaged 31.8 points per game last season, which ranked second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s 41.0 per-game average.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa only scored three points in the final three quarters of its 21-20 loss to Northwestern last season at Kinnick Stadium.
Mr. Optimist: It’s looking more like fans will be back in Kinnick Stadium this fall with spring sports already allowing 50 percent capacity.
Mr. Pessimist: Imagine how loud fans would’ve booed while watching Spencer Petras attempt 50 passes in the loss to Northwestern.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa has won six games in a row against Nebraska and seven of the last eight games in the series.
Mr. Pessimist: The World Wide Web still was in its infancy and Mick Jagger was in his 40s the last time Nebraska was relevant in football in the 1990s.