Myers wants to leave no doubt in final season at Iowa
WC native says Hawkeyes’ O-line determined to shore up pass protection woes
IOWA CITY — If awards mean anything, then the Iowa offensive line had a stellar 2016 season.
The five-man front, which included Webster City native and starting left tackle Boone Myers, picked up the Joe Moore Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding offensive line, last December. The Hawkeyes were selected over the vaunted offensive lines at Alabama and Ohio State.
Yeah, but …
No matter how many accolades the group picked up, there were still plenty of detractors and they all grumbled about the same thing: Pass protection.
The Hawkeyes allowed 30 sacks a season ago, which put an already beleaguered passing attack in an even deeper hole. The offensive line wasn’t solely to blame for the aerial woes — a lack of separation from the group of receivers shared equal blame — but it’s certainly an area they want to clean up this fall.
“Last year it was a yeah, but season,” Myers, senior who will be a three-year starter at left tackle when Iowa opens its season against Wyoming on Sept. 2, said during the Hawkeyes’ media day on Saturday. “We had things that we had to work on and we’re working on them right now. We’re using that as a chip on our shoulder right now. We’re out here and we’re trying to prove that we’re better than what we showed on tape.”
Myers, who has started 22 games after joining the program as a walk-on in the spring of 2013, will be joined up front by left guard Keegan Render, center James Daniels, right guard Sean Welsh and right tackle Ike Boettger.
After starting at left tackle during Iowa’s Rose Bowl season in 2015, Myers was moved to left guard at the start of the 2016 season. He was moved back outside for the final seven games and that’s the position where he says he’s most comfortable.
“I’ve played tackle for a long time and I’m a lot more comfortable there,” he said.
Myers and company will attempt to open holes for what has the potential to be one of the most talented backfields in the Big Ten. Tailback Akrum Wadley rushed for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns a season ago, and Iowa also picked up graduate transfer James Butler during the offseason. Butler rushed for 1,300 yards in each of the past two seasons at Nevada.
Iowa, which finished the 2016 season at 8-5 after a 30-3 drubbing at the hands of Florida in the Outback Bowl in January, will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator and quarterback. Brian Ferentz will now call the plays after serving as the offensive line coach and running game coordinator a season ago.
“There are going to be a few more wrinkles from the new coaching staff that I think will help us out,” Myers said.
Sophomore Nathan Stanley and junior Tyler Wiegers are locked in a tight battle for the starting spot under center. Stanley served as the back-up to C.J. Beathard last season, but a strong spring put Wiegers in the mix.
Who has the edge? If any of the players or members of the coaching staff know, they’re not saying.
“It’s a toss-up … I can’t say if one is ahead of the other one,” Myers said. “They’re both really good quarterbacks and it’s been awesome watching them compete. It’s going to be interesting in a month when we’re playing who is going to be out there. I think it’s going to be good either way.”