September 1, 2007

TES - 2007 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 1

Iowa’s Record:  0-0. 0-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
USA Today: 12 votes (#25 has 209)
ESPN Power 16: 2 votes (#16 has 23)
ESPNU Allstate: 

2007 Iowa Football Schedule
September 1st Iowa @ Northern Illinois (Soldier Field, Chicago) 3:35 PM, ESPNU
September 8th Iowa v. Syracuse 8:05 PM, Big Ten Network
September 15th Iowa @ Iowa State 1:35 PM, Versus ($90 admission to the bar)
September 22nd Iowa @ Wisconsin 8:05 PM, ABC
September 29th Iowa v. Indiana (Homecoming) 12:05 PM, ESPN, ESPN 2, or BTN
October 6th Iowa @ Penn State TBD
October 14th Iowa v. Illinois TBD
October 20th Iowa @ Purdue TBD
October 27th Iowa v. Michigan State (Family Weekend) TBD
November 3rd Iowa @ Northwestern TBD
November 10th Iowa v. Minnesota TBD
November 17th Iowa v. Western Michigan (the ‘zero help in BCS standings’ game) TBD

September 1st, 2007: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Northern Illinois Huskies 0-0, 0-0 MAC
Prior Games: 6, Iowa leads 6-0
Last Game: 2006 Iowa 24, NIU 14

Depth Chart for this week:

Use above in conjunction with –

Iowa City PD Arrest Blotter:

Game Watch: ‘The Best Game Watch Outside Of Kinnick.’
BLONDIES SPORTS 212 West 79th, (Broadway/Amsterdam).

1 train to 79th street, then half a block east.  Several parking garages are nearby.
NOTE: If sitting on bar stools/standing for 3 hours is not ideal for you, we will be reserving a couple tables on the restaurant side of Blondies.  Call the bar at 212 362-4360 to reserve table space.  We will not always have Hawkeye audio on the restaurant side, however.

Last Week: Alamo Bowl
The Hawkeyes awakened from their regular season slumber and should have won the game. Maybe the fact they didn’t is adding fuel to the pre-season camp going on now.  If the Hawks can play this year like they did in that one game, 07 will be just fine.

This Week: Northern Illinois

If you happened to tune into any of the early summer pre season college football predictions, you would have seen the Big Ten in general, as well as the Hawks, getting slammed pretty good.  Also you would have learned that USC and about 3 SEC teams could most likely beat the worst 4 or 5 teams in the NFL.  The shelling the Buckeyes and Wolverines took in the BCS games last January certainly did not help.  Many had the Hawks as strictly middle of the pack and on the bubble for a bowl berth.  But things seemed to come around over the summer months and now the polls have Michigan 5th, the Badgers 7th, and the Buckeyes either 10 or 11.  And so did the respect that was being thrown Iowa’s way.  A lot of it had to due with Young and Sims being named the 7th best tailback combo in the country, the veteran (and healthy) defensive line, a bevy of talented (if raw) wide receivers, and the feeling that whatever funk the Hawks found themselves in last year left with Tate.  And let’s not forget that the players of our Top 10 2005 class are now sophomores or juniors and ready to take control of the team.  So as the late summer magazines came out the Hawks now found themselves as a 9 or maybe 10 win team and right back in the hunt for the Cap 1 or Outback bowls.  Or even a ‘sleeper’ for the Big Ten title.  I trust that Coach Ferentz has banned all those issues from the locker rooms though.  Recall the high rankings and hoopla before the 05 and 06 seasons and where they ended up.  Things will be much better with the Hawks starting the season under the radar, as we are, and you have to get the impression that the Hawkeye offense maybe needed to see Tate go.  We will never know, but I don’t think Jake would have done any worse than 6-7 had he started as a redshirt freshman.

In what is sure to be a Hawkeye trivia question in a couple decades, Jake Christensen will look to go 2-0 in his first two starts against – the Huskies of Northern Illinois.  The game against NIU in Kinnick last year was also the last game the Hawks won.  So Jake will look for history to repeat itself, albeit not with the game still in question in the 4th quarter, as it was last time.

If your mind is blurred by the debacles that followed this win, a refresher:
Jake, 19-30, 256 yards, 2 tds.  Things looked scary at the start, as the 3rd play of the game was a tipped pass (I think by Chandler), that was picked off by NIU.  The Hawk defense rose up and stuffed the Husky 4th and 2 attempt at our 27, and when the Hawk offense took the field again a nice dose of Jake passing and Young running had the Hawks on the board, 7-0.  Albert ran for 124 yards on 25 carries that day, finally looking like he was over the injuries that had been nagging him throughout the season.

The game got close when the Hawks committed back to back personal fouls on consecutive successful 3rd down stops in the middle of the 4th.  (A nice window into the loss of focus suffered by the Hawks during the 2nd half nosedive).  Then, a 25 yard td pass followed on the 2nd free 1st down – and it was 17-14.  When Iowa got the ball back Christensen methodically moved the Hawks down the field, and on a 4th and 4 snap from the NIU 10 yard line, found Chandler for the decisive td to seal the 24-14 win.  You want you QB to be able to make the plays when the game is on the line – in that drive, Jake passed for 83 yards. 

Schlicher missed two field goals in a windy day at Kinnick and those would have helped, but the defense was outstanding for the first 50 minutes, limiting Husky Heisman hopeful tailback Wolfe to just 66 yards on 22 carries, and almost all of those in the 4th quarter. He is gone, as are many other starters in a Husky team that went 7-6 and finished the season with a 37-7 loss to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The 2007 Huskies only have 10 seniors on the entire team – so this year could be pretty rough in the MAC, but the young team might be able to make some noise in a year or two.  Speaking of the MAC – the Hawkeyes bookend the 07 season with MAC teams, ending with Western Michigan in week 12.  They beat us back in 2000 but don’t look for that to happen again in 2007.  The Hawks might look a little rough in the first couple weeks, but I am confidant this team will get better as the season goes on, like we did in 2001- 2004, and not like we slid backwards in 05 and 06.

That is all depending, of course, and who else might be in trouble over the recent rash of Hawkeye arrests that have been popping up.  In Douglas’s case – wow.  He was an almost certain All Big Ten player this year – and possible All American in his junior and senior seasons, making plays right and left as Jake’s go to guy.  But we will now see what the younger Iowa receivers can do – they certainly have the credentials (Trey Stross had a spectacular 47 yard catch against the Huskies to get the Hawks off our goal line last year), and now that the game time 2 deeps are out, I see he in fact starting opposite Brodell.  Behind him, Darrell Johnson-Koulianos (DJK) a redshirt freshman has been generating major buzz on the Iowa message boards, and from the other players as well.  On the other side, another redshirt freshman, James Cleveland backs up Brodell, and he looks like a playmaker too.  Jake just needs to get the balls into the hands of these kids, and let them rack up his ‘passing’ yards.  Not having DD’s reliable hands will hurt, but I think the Iowa receivers are on the verge of breaking out and becoming lethal weapons, all of them, for Christensen for the next couple seasons.

 Clearly, Iowa is going to try to run the ball with Young and Sims to take the pressure off of Christensen.  As seniors, both backs are primed to go out with a bang.  Now it’s time to see junior Moeaki live up to his 5 star potential and become the next in a long line of NFL tight ends that have perfected their craft in Iowa City.  When you consider that NIU will probably try to stack the line to cut down the running backs, the tight ends will have great chances down the middle of the field. As will Young moving into the flat after the snap. 

Remember, Jake is the son of an NFL QB, so while he might not be as elusive as Tate, he should be able to know what he is looking at as he goes under center and make the right decisions.  And – he probably will not try to force the ball as much as Tate did, either.  In his one start he did show that he is able to manage a game well, and use all the weapons at his disposal.  It’s going to take some time for the new O-line to get their bearings (3 new starters), but the schedule allows for a couple games to figure that out.  And as usual, the Hawks seem to have deep depth here, and may still move the linemen around until they find the right combination.

As you would expect by having 8 starters back, the defense appears to be ahead of the offense (and it was obvious in the open practice at Kinnick), and Norm has said in the past couple days that he really likes what he has been seeing in practice so far.  As we all know, the D-line play has not lived up to our standards for the past two years, but these guys all now have two years of playing together, are seniors (Iwebema and Mattison) and juniors (Kroul and King), and finally should be able to get the pressure we have been so lacking the last two seasons.  In fairness, Iwebema was never full speed last year, so look for him to come out aggressively and lead the other linemen into the backfield.  The linebackers (Edds, Klinkenborg, and Humpal) should be excellent, and the word from camp is that the battle for the d back positions is going very well.  Seniors Shada and Godfrey will man the corners, true freshman stud Jordan Bernstine (the top player in Iowa, recruit wise) is listed as the co-backup behind Shada.  He was mainly a safety in high school, but he can play anywhere back there.  The Hawks also got an unexpected gift when senior free safety Devan Moylan was granted an injury-waver extra year of eligibility over the summer.  The strong safety will be junior Harold Dalton – behind both starters it’s all true or redshirt freshman. 

A week cannot go by where I don’t channel the football gods and plead for a blocked kick.  So there you go.  I see the Hawks getting this monkey off their back either this week or next.  Punter Ryan Donahue will look to continue the Iowa trend of excellent punt coverage (they have been working with him to NOT kick it too far - beyond the coverage guys) and the battle for kicker (Signor and Daniel Murray) is going right down to the wire.  Signor has a big leg, and as the kickoffs have been moved back to the 30 yard line this year, big legs are key, if you want to prevent returns – which are going to go way up with the spot moved back.

 The Hawks might be going to Sweet Home Chicago but I don’t think this is going to feel like a road game.  Soldier Field seats 61,500, and the Hawkeyes easily sold their allotment of 30,000 seats.  I expect once those were gone Hawk fans found ways to get tickets from NIU, so there will be plenty of noise when the Hawks do something right.  It sure beats playing a true road game to open up, and with the Cuse coming to Kinnick next week, the Hawks have 8 quarters to tinker and figure things out before the intensity gets ratcheted up several notches with the trip to Ames looming on the 15th. 

Ferentz never likes to show more than he has to, so it’s probably safe to expect the Hawks to run, run, run, throw little ball-control type passes, and only really open it up if the Huskies sell out to stop Young and Sims and give Jake no choice other than to throw to the wide open tight ends and receivers.  If there are any new wrinkles to the Iowa offense it will be the Clones who get to see them.  For this week and next, the Hawks should just focus on the fundamentals, and let their superior talents win the day.  The Christensen era begins with a comfortable win in the Second City, then the Hawks return to open up Kinnick Stadium, and the new bronze relief of Nile scoring the winning td against the Irish in 1939.  With that, the Kinnick renovations are complete.

All right my friends – the countdown clock is now at the point where you need not concern yourself with days, only hours.  As of this writing, 138 hours, 56 minutes, and 11 seconds.  The good news – you don’t have to stumble out of bed for a noon kickoff until week #5.  So unless you are in Chicago this weekend (and safe travels to all of you) I hope you can find your way to the bar at 3:30 Saturday!

Why You Should Watch The Iowa Games At Blondies Sports
  1. A room full of Iowans, and Quasi-Iowans.
  2. Iowa games in glorious audio – we control the bar side stereo.  That means you hear the game.  And the fight song.  ON IOWA.  The Beer Song.  Maybe a little Hawkeye radio audio from past dramatic games.
  3. A bar decked out in Hawkeye banners, flags, signs, etc.  Like the Sports Column…minus the attitude. New NYC Hawk banners for 2007!
  4. It is a bar – meaning that once the game kicks off, you don’t have to drink Coke.  That is, unless you want to. 
  5. Speaking of audio…actual Hawkeye Marching Band alumni have been known to break out the brass and start jamming.
  6. Prizes.  From time to time, there will be raffles of cool Hawkeye gear.
  7. James the Bartender is back – again in 2007. Our own personal bartender. 
  8. Should the Hawks lose, you don’t have to drown your sorrows by yourself.  Pain is a drink best shared with friends.
  9. Maybe the best chicken wings in the City.
  10.  It’s economical – the more fun you have at the bar, the less you can have on Saturday night.  Thus you save money on Saturday nights.



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