January 1, 2009

TES - 2008 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Outback Bowl Special Edition

Iowa’s Record:  8-4, 5-3 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: 104 votes (#26)
USA Today: 40 votes
ESPN Power 16: 
ESPNU Allstate: 
HARRIS: 60 votes

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 WIN 24-23
November 15th Iowa v. Purdue WIN 22-17
November 22nd Iowa @ Minnesota WIN 55-0
2009 Outback Bowl:
January 1st, 2009 South Carolina @ Iowa 11:00 AM (Eastern) ESPN

January 1st, 2009: Iowa Hawkeyes v. South Carolina Gamecocks 7-5 4-4 SEC
Prior Games: 0
Last Game:

Current Line: Iowa -4

Current Turnover Margin: +6

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.

Up Next: 2009 Outback Bowl

Hello again my Hawkeye friends!  I know Mother Nature lobbed some serious bombs at your Holiday travel plans, but I hope you (and your luggage) were able to get to your final destinations in time for your family festivities.  And to our Hawkeye friends in the 2nd and Twin Cities, well, sorry you had to deal with that single digit stuff while we were a rather toasty 40 something!

The Hawks are safely in Tampa, it seems like everyone on the team will be eligible (not the case for South Carolina), and all those little bumps and bruises should be healed after the long layoff.  The Hawks will be ready to throw everything they got at the Gamecocks.
Spurrier is the headman, and he probably wishes he had not left the Gators, as his brief NFL trip (Redskins) didn’t work out, and he has yet to be able to lift the Gamecocks into SEC title contention.  They finished 4th in the SEC east this year, and I would argue that outside the Gators and Tide, the SEC was hardly the premier conference in 2008.

Here is a look at the Gamecocks 2008 results – after the score, the final 08 records of the teams SC played:

8/28             North Carolina State W 34-0    6-6
9/04             @ Vanderbilt                           L 24-17   6-6
9/13             No. 2 Georgia                          L 14-7     9-3
9/20             Wofford                         W 23-13   9-3 (IAA)
9/27             UAB                                     W 26-13   4-8
10/04             @ Mississippi             W 31-24   8-4
10/11             @ Kentucky                         W 24-17   6-6
10/18             No. 13 LSU                         L 24-17    7-5
11/01             Tennessee                         W 27-6     5-7
11/08             Arkansas                         W 34-21   5-7
11/15             @ No. 4 Florida             L 56-6      12-1
11/29             @ Clemson                         L 31-14    7-5

So I guess you would say their biggest Div. 1 win was against Mississippi, who finished 2nd in the SEC west, behind Alabama.

But look at the last two games.  Sure, you would not expect them to compete with the likes of Florida, but that’s an embarrassment for the Ole Ball Coach nonetheless.  His worst loss ever, actually.  Then they finished up with a rather dismal effort against the Tigers (the generally weakest of the 3 SEC Tigers).  So they come into the Outback on the downswing, while the Hawks are riding a 3 game winning streak, victories in 5 out of 6, and all kinds of that big mo’ that you like to enter the 2nd season with.

As a result, most of the college football talking heads agree with the Sedge that this is one that the Hawks have no business losing.  Sadly, many of those heads also think that this might be the one and only bowl game the Big Ten gets.  After watching the Badgers and Wildcats, they could be right.  

Let’s dig into the numbers a bit to see were the Hawks should have the advantages.  The defense is supposed to be the South Carolina strength, and we can hang our hats there too, so we shall begin there.

Scoring Defense  NCAA rank   Pass Defense   Rank       Rush Defense   Rank     
Iowa 13.3             #8                 191.2              #41            98.3                #10     
SC    20.3             #29               160.2               #3             128.7              #37

Total Defense                            Interceptions                    TD Allowed
Iowa 289.5          #13                 20                   #6              16                  #2
SC    288.9          #12                 12                   #55            30                  #29

So while it may look like the Gamecock defense has the advantage when Stanzi drops back to pass, a further drill down to Passing Efficiency Defense bumps the Hawks all the way up to #8 nationally, and the Gamecocks down to 23rd.  That’s our bend-don’t-break defense at work – yes, you might be able dink and dunk the ball downfield for some yards, but getting it into the end zone is another story, and we are likely to snare any bad passes.

A big problem looms for South Carolina as their top tackler, strong safety Cook, is ineligible for the bowl game, along with one of their senior linebackers and a backup offensive lineman.  So the total defense takes a hit, and the passing defense does as well, with one of the best secondary players off the field.  Side note, I’m not sure how strong a defense really is when a safety is the leading tackler two years in a row, as is the case with Cook.

The other problem they are going to have is their offense is erratic, at best, so that decent defense of theirs is going to on the field early and often.  While we are no offensive juggernaut (well, the Gophers might think we are), the Gamecocks are near the bottom of Div. 1 in several critical offensive categories.

Rush Offense    NCAA Rank    Passing Offense   Rank    Total Offense   Rank
Iowa 189.3        #29                  184.5                     #89      373.9                #52
SC     98.3         #108                218.5                     #54      316.8                #97

Turnover Margin   Rank
Iowa  .50               #27
SC     -.75              #102

You recall the success the Iowa defense had against some of the premier running games in the nation, Shonn topping all of them with ease.  You may also remember how the Iowa defense completely took away the running game from teams with average or bad rushing attacks.  Into this category fall the Gamecocks, so once the Hawkeye defense makes them one dimensional, their perceived advantage through the air will disappear.

Things got bad enough for the offense that the O Line coach was canned at the season end and the QB coach resigned.  Speaking of QBs, as is his nature, Spurrier saw enough of his starter Smelly after a 4 pick effort at Clemson, so he is going with redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia, who saw partial duty this year in the Spurrier QB shuffle.  To date, he has 6 tds and 5 picks.  Garcia is more well known for his now - 3 and counting - run ins with the law, so he sounds like the kind of kid that could get a bit unglued once King and Kroul pound him into the turf a couple times. 

SC does have a good weapon in senior wideout/kick returner Kenny McKinley.  He has caught 201 passes for 19 TDs in his 4 seasons, so identifying and doubling him will be a Hawkeye priority.  But we should be able to do that once the threat of a run has been killed.

A quick check of the special teams numbers shows that aside from a decent kicker, there is not much there for South Carolina, and our unit is pretty middle of the road when looking at the national numbers.  That’s all right; we just need the guys to make tackles on kickoff returns and Donahue to have his ‘A’ game when we do have to punt.  I seem to recall that in our previous Florida bowl victories the special teams contributed to the scoreboard.  Andy, it’s been a while, let’s bring another punt home.

Many bowl games start out kind of sluggishly, the long layoff hurts the passing timing the most.  Of course start out with a heavy dose of Shonn, so once he gets the gears oiled, those 6 to 9 yards clips will start forcing the Gamecock secondary to creep up, and then Stanzi can work his play action rollouts and find little 15 yard dump offs to Myers and Moeaki. Once SC has had a quarter of pounding from Greene, look for the Iowa wideouts to be single covered on the outside, and then Stanzi can go over the top, just as he did in Minnesota.  The Gamecocks are talking a lot, basically saying Greene is good but maybe just a better than average SEC back.  By the time they realize they are wrong, the Iowa offense will be rolling, and it will be too late.

You probably didn’t know that only USC – that’s Southern California – allowed fewer total touchdowns, 11, then our 16.  True to our average, I expect South Carolina to get just 1.  Maybe a field goal or two, and that’s it.  Hawks make a glorious return to New Year’s Day, and this win could very well launch us on another run like we have been waiting for.

And sure enough, we are back on New Year’s Day, and Ferentz is back into NFL vacancy talk.  This time, it’s more serious, as the Browns job is open, but they canned the GM that was buddies with Kirk (though they might go after another one of his NFL friends to fill that GM spot).  But in this economic climate, I can’t see a small market team like Cleveland being able to pay Kirk much more than he is making now, and as far as we know, the Ferentz family still intends to stay in Iowa City until the last son is out of high school, which would be through the 2012 season.

All that is left now is for the game to begin.  Once again we will be having a raffle drawing of lots of cool prizes during halftime.  5 bucks gets you 1 ticket, $10 3 tickets, $20 10 tickets, but you will want to win, so go with our Best Value – 15 tickets for $25.  Get your tickets before the game starts or from the peeps walking around during the 1st half.  We ask that as halftime begins and we turn down the TV audio, please tone things down yourself so that you can hear the winning numbers as they are called out.  If people regularly tell you that you are too loud, feel free to help us with that part!  And stay tuned for an email from Matt that will arrive tomorrow, listing the various prizes you have a shot to take home.

Ok – no Geeks in the corner, so the Skybox is ours.  We are the only game until 1:00 pm, so come one, come all, bring friends, family, anyone who likes football and a good time, because we will be having one!  Please note, the bar will be opening at 10:45 AM, you might see Matt and myself in there a bit before putting up the flags.  But to take it easy on the potentially hung-over bar staff, we ask that you wait until that time to come in.  And the bar will then be ours.

And yes, here is your reminder that the kickoff is 11:00 am, an hour earlier than normal, and it happens to be the morning after a certain holiday. Set those alarm clocks before you head out!  Have a very happy and safe New Year!

One last thing.  A 4-point spread?  Please.  Hawks 34, Gamecocks 13.

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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