By Courtney Baumann
Iowa’s alumni weren’t the only ones welcomed home over this past weekend.
The Hawkeye football team once again embraced others: the offensive attack and junior defensive back Brandon Snyder.
After a rough couple of weeks for Nate Stanley and Company, the offense finally came alive against a not-so-great Illinois defense.
Iowa put up 441 yards on Oct. 7, rushing for 191 and passing for 250 more. Stanley threw 3 touchdown passes to bring his season total to 15 and moved up to No. 2 in the conference, even though he did not throw one in the previous game against Michigan State.
Playmaker Akrum Wadley was also welcomed back after three injured and inconsistent weeks. The senior tailback only mustered 134 yards in the three games post-Iowa State, but he put together 115 against Illinois, averaging 5.0 yards a carry and recording 2 touchdowns — one on the ground and one through the air.
The Homecoming of Iowa’s offense occurred at a very necessary time. The thought of the Hawkeyes heading into the bye week with a .500 record is cringe-worthy.
Without that added cushion of an extra win, the rest of the 2017 season would have started to look bleak for Iowa. The team’s schedule in the second half of the season includes two top-10 opponents and a few other contenders.
The Hawkeyes will be put to the test at Northwestern, followed by Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all in a row. They will also see Nebraska in the last game of the season.
The only game that could be a little easier on the Hawkeyes is Purdue near the end of November. However, as head coach Kirk Ferentz always says, no win in the Big Ten is an easy one.
That being said, two wins en route to a bowl game bid will be a whole lot easier for Iowa than three would have been if the team had lost.
On the other side of the ball, another noteworthy Homecoming was that of Snyder, who tore his ACL in spring practice and rehabbed from surgery for fewer than six months before getting the go-ahead to start playing again.
Snyder started all 13 games last season as a sophomore at free safety, and the news of his injury came as a huge hit to the Iowa secondary, which was already thin after Desmond King and Greg Mabin graduated.
Somehow, some way, Snyder returned to the Swarm in less than half of a year and put on a show in Kinnick against the Illini.
The junior recorded 3 tackles and 2 pass breakups, but his biggest welcome home came in the third quarter, when he intercepted a pass for just the fourth time in his career and took it 89 yards into the south end zone, where he was greeted by the Iowa student section.
It was Snyder’s first touchdown in the Black and Gold; his return to the lineup was scripted perfectly.
It was good to see UI graduates, new and old, back in Iowa City for a few days. Hopefully, Iowa’s offense and Snyder stick around for more than just the weekend.