November 8, 2008

TES - 2008 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 11

Iowa’s Record:  5-4, 2-3 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 Loss 27-24
November 8th Iowa v. Penn State 3:35 PM, ABC Regional (ESPN in NYC)
November 15th Iowa v. Purdue 12:05 PM, BTN
November 22nd Iowa @ Minnesota 7:05 PM, BTN
November 8th, 2008: Iowa Hawkeyes v. #2 USA Today #3 AP/BCS Penn State Nittany Lions 9-0, 5-0 Big Ten
Prior Games: 20, Penn State leads 11-9
Last Game: 2007, Iowa 7, Penn State 27

Current Line: Iowa +8

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.

Last Week: Illinois

Well – the Hawks sure do know how to make things interesting, and then break our heart.  They are all bad, but this loss was critical.  If we were 3-2 instead of 2-3 we would be only one loss back of both the Buckeyes and Spartans in the Big Ten hunt.  Instead we sit in 7th place; bowl seeding wise, and things are not getting any easier this week.
In retrospect, perhaps the bye week did hurt, maybe not everyone, but at least the offense.  3 times in the 2nd quarter they had 1st downs at or inside the Illini 12 yard line, yet netted only 6 points.  And the 31-yard field goal miss by Mossbrucker would loom large in the end.

Other first half mistakes – after Brodell brought an Illini punt back to midfield, Stanzi promptly throws a pick inside the Illinois 40.  That Illini possession, a field goal, and once again, the difference in the game.

Of course there was also the Stanzi sack/fumble/td, looked like he might have released the ball, but reviewed and nope.  That, one of 6 sacks by the Illini.  An off day for the O line, but they were also down two starters.

For the most part, the defense played well.  Yes, there was the blown coverage on that 50-yard td pass, but they stuffed the Illini rush attack for sub 60 yards, and generally kept Juice from chucking the ball deep down the field successfully.  They were not helped much by our continued 3rd down troubles, this time 3-14.  The defense could have used more gas in that final, game winning drive, to be sure.

I guess even Shonn can have an off day.  Oh wait, his 21 carries for 103 yards makes him the only Division 1 tailback to top the century mark in the first 9 weeks.  His yardage total of 1257 still has him ranked 3rd, this week.  He had a hard time getting things going in the Illini game, but it did seem at times that we kind of forgot about him too.  We remembered/he work up in the 4th, and played the pivotal role in our 15 point comeback.

Another week, more problems getting plays in, resulting in timeouts, and 5-yard delay of game penalties.  Ferentz seemed to indicate it was more a young quarterback problem then a KOK play selection problem.  That cannot happen this week.

So, 4 losses.  12 points. I don’t think any 4-loss team in football could lay claim to being closer to 9-0 than us.  Let’s hope that finally, they have learned how to close football games.

This Week: Penn State

And now, the Lions.  The highest rated team to visit Kinnick since the night loss to Ohio State in 2006.  A team that should probably be 2nd in all the polls after Texas went down last week, but Penn State did not play, so they were passed by Tech.  There is much talk about the poor Lions going undefeated but failing to make the title game as Bama and Tech would stay 1 and 2 due to the perceived strengths of the SEC and Big 12, and weakness of the Big Ten.  As we won’t be playing in the BCS ourselves this year, I’ll refrain from comment on the NCAA’s stupidest decision ever, that is to give its flagship sport a made up champion, when every other college sport is decided on the field.   Darn, I just did.

Hence, it would be best for the Big Ten for Iowa to put Penn State out of our misery, so they won’t have to suffer the humiliation of being unbeaten with no date for the title game.

If you have been listening to the various football talking heads of late you might have heard how the Hawks are expected to give the Lions a good test.  Clearly there would be more buzz to this game had we not blown it last week.   Yet it will be a zoo in Iowa City, as with the 2:35 local kickoff the lights will be there, and everyone will have 3.5 more hours to tailgate.  If you wish to feel that way too, head to Blondies for the noon games.

If you caught any of Kirk’s presser this week, it would seem like we have no shot to win this game.  They don’t appear to have any weaknesses, and have a junior and senior loaded 2 deep with lots of snaps under their belts.  But, that’s why they play the games.

For PSU it starts with junior QB Daryll Clark.  Another dual threat quarterback, he can pull it down to run and rarely makes a mistake throwing it, with just 2 picks this season, along with 11 tds.  But, in their last game (the 13-6 win over the Buckeyes) Clark was knocked out of the game late with a concussion.  The backup QB scored the game winner, in fact.  Good thing the Lions had a bye last week, as Clark probably would not have played.  But he his ‘probable’ this week, and expect him to play.  This leads us to the 1st key of the game.

That is, put the fear into Clark.  No, I don’t advocate head hunting, but I do cherish hard hits.  The Hawks must put the wood to him whenever he ventures beyond the line of scrimmage, or whenever they can get a legal shot on him on passing downs.  Hit him hard enough, he might hesitate to run, or make a bad decision when trying to get rid of the ball.  Don’t aim for it, defense, but get inside his head.

There can be no blown backfield assignments this week.  The Lions have no less than 3 wideouts on various postseason watch lists.  State has a solid running game as well, so our play action defense must be rock solid.  As was the case last week, priority one for the defense will be to make the Lions one-dimensional by shutting down the run.  If we can do that, we might just have a chance to keep things interesting.  Oh, and the teams ahead of us in the pick list got none last week, so now we trail the Tar Heels by just one, 17-16.   Time to reclaim the lead.

Our rush defense is ranked 12th, nationally, at just over 100 yards per game.  At 11th, Penn State, at 99.  Obviously the Lions are going to stuff the box and try to take Greene out of the game.  The Iowa line must win this battle early and often (and we should have Olsen back so we will be aided in that), because we will need the running game to keep the very explosive State offense (over 40 six times this year) off the field as much as possible.  When they are on the field, the defense must be rested.  Which means we need to be much closer to 50% on 3rd downs.

Should we find ourselves in the red zone, we need touchdowns.  If we kick more than two field goals, we will lose.  This would be a good week for the passing game to top 200 yards – make the Lions pay for trying to stuff Shonn.  Tony should be back, and Stross has replaced sophomore slumping DJK at starter on that side, so maybe those combinations will provide the spark we need to open things up down the field.

This would also be a good time to throw some wrinkles in there Ken.  Assuming the Lions will come out with 8 players in the box, maybe we should start the first series with a 5-wideout spread formation.  Brodell deep to open the game, I like it.

Turnovers.  I think we must be +2 in this game.  If we get them, we must attack.  Make their mistakes costly.  Make the favorites nervous and get the rabid crowd into it. 

And let’s throw in either a special teams or defensive td this week.  How bout a blocked punt…

If the Hawks can put together a near-flawless game, we should be right there with around 8 minutes left.  Maybe this will be the week that we make that one critical play that will decide the outcome in our favor.  It’s bound to happen, sooner or later.

We are coming in mad, State is coming off a bye week.  Only the Buckeys have stood up, smacked them in the mouth, and kept it close.  Maybe some doubt and panic will creep into their minds if it happens to State two games in a row.

And let us not forget, we are 5-1 against them in our last 6.  Yes, they are the better team this year.  But as we have done a great job showing ourselves, the better team does not always win.

It’s a Black Out in Kinnick Saturday, unless you are in the student section, in which case it’s a Greene Out.  Green is not my thing so I’m going with black.

Once again, every other Big Ten game is at noon Saturday, so once those end, we shall have the place to ourselves, more or less.

This week’s Hawkeye birthday is – Rachael Hicks!  On Friday, and no, I don’t know how many.  Happy Birthday Rachael!

All right ‘my friends,’ just one more day and then - Saturday.  The change we need is coming!

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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