November 1, 2008

TES - 2008 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 10

Iowa’s Record:  5-3, 2-2 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
USA Today:
ESPN Power 16: 
ESPNU Allstate: 

2008 Iowa Football Schedule
August 30th Iowa v. Maine WIN 46-3
September 6th Iowa v. Florida International WIN 42-0
September 13th Iowa v. Iowa State WIN 17-5
September 20th Iowa @ Pittsburgh Loss 21-20
September 27th Iowa v. Northwestern Loss 22-17
October 4th Iowa @ Michigan State Loss 16-13
October 11th Iowa @ Indiana WIN 45-9
October 18th Iowa v. Wisconsin WIN 38-16
October 25th Bye Week
November 1st Iowa @ Illinois 3:35 PM, ABC Regional (ESPN in NYC)
November 8th Iowa v. Penn State 3:35 PM, ABC Regional
November 15th Iowa v. Purdue TBD
November 22nd Iowa @ Minnesota 7:05 PM, BTN
November 1st, 2008: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Illinois Fighting Illini 4-4, 2-3 Big Ten
Prior Games: 68, Illinois leads 37-29-2
Last Game: 2007, Iowa 10, Illinois 6

Current Line: Iowa +1.5

Current Turnover Margin: +3

Depth Chart for this week:

Game Watch: ‘The Best Game Watch Outside Of Kinnick.’
BLONDIES SPORTS 212 West 79th, (Broadway/Amsterdam).
1 train to 79th street, 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.  We will not always have Hawkeye audio on the restaurant side.

And we’re back!  The Mac is now running smoothly, so the notes again come right from the source.  Thanks to Matt for sending them out for the past few weeks. 
 Last Week: Wisconsin
Well, I have had 9 days to think about it, and yes, at times I can be accused of being of being perhaps a bit too wordy, but the best I have is this:  wow.

At the start of the season, we really didn’t know what we would have for a running game, with our sub 50 returning yards, and a starter who had been away from the game for a year, and before that had only had spot duty, never carried the load.  Well, he carried loads last year; we got to install microwave ovens.

So I thought if Shonn had been able to get something around 70 yards a game, and the other tailbacks could have thrown in 40 or so to get us a bit over 100 as an average, I think I/we would have been happy.  Growth, with the upside coming in 2009.

And so after his 25 carry for 217 (8.68 per, if you are scoring at home) and 4 td performance, in a game against a team that should know how to stop the run, Shonn is now in the Heisman conversation, and had we not blown those 3 close games, he would be at the front of it.

And those 4 tds.   My.  The 2nd, that first 34 yard scamper where once he got outside, all that stood between him and the goal line was the Wisconsin secondary.  All four of them, that is.  A juke here, a stiff-arm there, powering his way through pathetic arm tackles, and then for good measure, steam rolling the last guy in his path.  Power running game, Amen.

It wasn’t just his yardage, but his timing made a difference as well.  That is what makes a playmaker.  After the Badgers had scored back-to-back field goals to cut the Iowa lead to 14-9, momentum was not on the Hawkeye sideline.  Jewel stepped up and took the ensuing kickoff to our 33.  The Badgers gave us 15 free yards on a roughing the passer penalty, and then we gave 10 right back with a holding call.  On the 1st and 20, Shonn got 10 back.  Great.  Then, a draw, Greene was in the secondary, Greene was behind the secondary, could Greene really make it to the end zone?  To date, he has not had the breakaway speed.  But each week he gets stronger, in better shape, and this time, no one caught him.  Iowa now leads 21-9, and the Hawkeye defense never lets the Badgers back into it.

The yards now have Shonn at #3 in the nation.  Ahead of him, Ringer.  By 219 yards (1373 to 1154) and 123 more carries.  Then Brown from UConn, 170 yards ahead of Shonn, with 58 more carries.  Greene, season to date, a ridiculous 6.5 yards per carry.   A yard better than Brown.  And two yards better than the Spartan.

Course, you can’t run the ball without a solid O line, and through each week, the Iowa line seems to be getting stronger.  Seth Olsen missed the game with a sprained ankle  (in practice the Wednesday before) but there seemed to be no drop off.  True, we only passed for 121 yards on the day, but when you are picking off yards on the ground like that, why risk it.  Two blowouts, two weeks without a turnover.  A correlation??

Yes, was not happy to see the defense give up that late touchdown, and the Badgers did rack up just over 400 total yards, but the Iowa bend don’t break defense made the plays they had to make.  Specifically, Angerer.  His first pick in the 4th was quite a beauty, having to reach up on the dead run and snag the pass.  Shonn got td #4, the rather boring (ha) 34 yarder after that one.  Once the Hawks kicked off, there was Pat again, only this time, the Badger QB tossed it right to him.  That’s a linebacker with two picks, and you might have been as surprised as I was to learn that Sunday that our 14 interceptions lead the nation.  We did not play last week, so we are now 4th, 3 picks behind the Tar  Heels (is it basketball season?), but I like our chances to move back up the list this weekend.

This Week: Illinois
After a couple of seasons of 12 games in 12 weeks, the Hawks come off the bye week with just the final 3rd of the 08 season remaining.  Some have argued the bye week came at a bad time, after back-to-back blowouts, the break killing our momentum.  But I don’t think so.  First, Shonn could use the recharge for the stretch run. He has been nicked and dinged up in most games so far, not that it has really stopped him.  The O line could use the break, they have made great strides this year, and with these final 4 games we shall see if they can move into elite company.  The week off might help Olsen get back in lineup, and probably Moeaki as well.  And as the last four teams all run spread option offenses, the defense could use the extra rest and prep time.  I don’t think we are going to see any regression from the Hawks on Saturday.

So this final stretch opens with that team we all love to hate, the Illini.  Still, I believe, without a real mascot.  If you read these emails last year, you know I never took their rise to the top of the Big Ten seriously.  We did beat them, 10-6.  Then they went on to embarrass the Big Ten (along with the Buckeyes…again) in their BCS bowl.  This year they got the Big Ten Network to feature them in the ‘The Journey’ show, only to blow the opening to Missouri 52-42 and stumble around since then to a .500 record.  Among those defeats, a 10 point setback to the Badgers last week, and 3 weeks ago, 27-20 loss to the Gophers.  And yeah - I am not taking them seriously, yet, either.

All season we have been hearing about how the Illini have this game ‘circled’ on their calendars.  Perhaps they should have paid a bit more attention to the other games, as then the game this weekend would not be dropping them under .500.  True, this class has never beaten us.  In fact, we have not lost to them since 2000.  Which means in this decade.  Century.  Millennium.  And should we win Saturday, we can’t lose to them in this decade at all, they and Purdue move out of our rotation for the next two seasons. 

So expect the Illini to come out flying.  If the Hawks can withstand that initial assault, I am guessing the Illini will make a mistake.  And if the Hawks can pounce on that and score, it will get a lot quieter there in C-U, and the game will be on.

Juice is now a junior, and yes, he has made improvement in each year.  He is putting up a lot of yards in the air, but the running game the Illini had to complement the passing moved onto the NFL after last season. So far, their top rusher, 539 yards.  Juice has kicked in 479.   But he only netted 4 yards against the Badgers, and guess what, the Hawkeye defense is better.  Still 5th in scoring, and also 5th in pass efficiency. 

So if it comes down to shutting down the option part of the attack (the running game), I like our chances.  If we know the pass is coming, we will be ready. The Badgers picked off 3 of them in their win.  The Hawks need 3 to get back on top of the heap.

This is the part that I can cut and paste into the next 3 emails:
Run the ball, Hawkeyes.  The Badgers racked up 163 on Illinois.  We should net over 200.  We are still not doing a good enough job converting 3rd downs; this would be a good week to start.  Clearly, if the defense is going to contain the option part of the Illini attack, they must be rested.  3 and out is our enemy and we must minimize those drives.  And yes, do not give the spread offense any kind of extra chances.  We have done it two weeks in a row, lets see if we can get the turnover free trifecta.

It’s not a fluke –we have really only faced one power rushing team like us.  And our defense only gives up a little over 11 points a game.  So Norm does know how to shut down these kinds of attacks. 

Then there is the small matter of the next game.  Penn State is on a bye this week, so that means they will come in unbeaten and ranked no lower than 3rd.  But I don’t think the Hawks will be caught looking ahead.  The way the last three seasons have gone, we should not be in that position.  Part of that is up to the coaches.  The rest, to the seniors and upperclassmen.

Every other Big Ten game is at noon Saturday, so you might want get to the bar early to enjoy some of them, as if the games run long, we will be waiting outside.  Costumes are optional. 

Oh yes, there is one other thing.  Our good friend Hamlet is celebrating a birthday this weekend.  Ask him how many.  And make sure he always has a drink in hand.

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. 
  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. Should the Hawks lose, you don’t have to drown your sorrows by yourself.  Pain is a drink best shared with friends.
  8. The best chicken wings in the City.  Extra napkins – required.
  9. 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.
  10. Have cable?  No Big Ten Network for you, yet. The bar has DirecTV.


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