September 12, 2009

TES - 2009 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 2

Iowa’s Record:  1-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: Out (24 votes)
USA Today: Out (70 votes)
ESPN Power Rankings: Out (votes)
ESPNU Allstate: #24
HARRIS: 60 votes

2009 Iowa Football Schedule

September 5th Iowa v. Northern Iowa Panthers WIN 17-16
September 12th Iowa @ Iowa State Cyclones 12:05 pm Fox Sports Net
September 19th Iowa v. Arizona Wildcats 3:35 pm, ABC/ESPN2
September 26th Iowa @ Penn State Nittany Lions 8:05 pm, ABC/ESPN
October 3rd Iowa v. Arkansas State Red Wolves TBD
October 10th Iowa v. Michigan Wolverines HOMECOMING, 8:05 pm, ABC/ESPN
October 17th Iowa @ Wisconsin Badgers 12:05 pm, BTN/ESPN/ESPN2
October 24th Iowa @ Michigan State 7:05 PM, BTN
October 31st Iowa v. Indiana Hoosiers TBD
November 7th Iowa v. Northwestern Wildcats TBD
November 14th Iowa @ Ohio State Buckeyes TBD
November 21st Iowa v. Minnesota Golden Gophers TBD

Outback Bowl 1/1/10 11:00 AM, ESPN
Capital One Bowl 1/1/10, 1:00 PM, ABC

Rose Bowl 1/1/10, 5:00 PM, ABC
Sugar Bowl 1/1/10, 8:30 PM, FOX
Fiesta Bowl 1/4/10, 8:00 PM, FOX
Orange Bowl 1/5/10, 8:00 PM, FOX
BCS Title Game 1/7/10, 8:00 PM, ABC

September 12th 2009: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Iowa State Cyclones 1-0, 0-0 Big 12
Prior Games: 56, Iowa leads 37-19
Last Game: 2008, Iowa 17 ISU 5

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: -1

Current Line: Iowa -7

Scoring Defense 16.0, Pass Def 270.0, Rush Def 84.0, Interceptions 0, Total Defense 354.0
Big Ten                 #6                       #8                          #6                             #7(tie)                    #8
NCAA                  #50                     #90                         #39                           -                             #68

Scoring Offense 17.0, Pass Offense 242.0, Rush Offense 87.0, Total Offense 329.0,
Big Ten                #10                             #7                                 #10                               #10
NCAA                 #79                              #38                               #88                               #76
Depth Chart for this week:

Game Watch: ‘The Best Game Watch Outside Of Kinnick.’
Opal Bar & Restaurant, 251 East 52nd St. Corner of 52nd and 2nd, 212 593-4321

Getting There:
6/E (no V on weekends) trains to 51st/Lexington Ave. Walk 2 blocks east, 1 block north to the bar.
M15 Bus – downtown on 2nd Ave, uptown on 1st Ave.
M50 Bus from the west side.
Several parking garages are in the area, but we strongly encourage you to take cabs or mass transit to our game watches!,+NY,+NY&ie=UTF8&split=0&gl=us&ei=6M-NSrfjBcm_tgf0-d3fDQ&ll=40.756205,-73.966709&spn=0.004502,0.011394&z=17

Last Week: UNI

Well, that would have to rank as about the most improbable win since Hartlieb to Marv Cook on the 4th and 22 back in 1987 (we had not won in Columbus since 1959).  I would say the odds of blocking two field goals are even higher than hitting the 60 yard pass from Tate to Holloway to beat LSU.  Late word, it seems that in fact, that was a college football first.  Regardless of where you rank it, that one will live long in the Hawkeye memory.

Yeah, I know, it was UNI.  Thing is, the Hawkeye teams of 2005 to the first half of 2008 would have lost that game.  Heck, I would doubt that even our 31 win teams of 02-04 could have recovered from the emotional kick to the groin to come back and get their hands on the 2nd field goal attempt.  This team did.

And yes, there is a lot to work on in practice this week.  There were some good signs, at times the passing game looked crisp and precise.  The defense did bend but not break, only giving up one touchdown.  Punting, only 1 return for -2 yards. 

Let’s start up front.  I think a lot of the sniping that was going on in the 1st half that was aimed at the O line should not have been.  They were opening holes for the running game.  O’Meara was just not able to capitalize.  9 carries, 16 yards, 1.8 per.  Oh, how we long for Shonn Greene – several of the touches that brought Paki down would be been mere brushes to Shonn as he motored on for another 11 yards.  Things did improve when Adam Robinson was back there; he 15 for 63, at a respectable 4.2 per touch, and the 11-yard td run that sparked the Hawkeye comeback. 

Yes, there were some bad moments, like when Stanzi was sacked on the back-to-back plays in the 3rd, but for the most part he had the time to make the plays.  Yup, that was a bad fumble by him as he tried to keep a play going that was dead.  And he had a few misses here and there, but was pretty solid.  Generally his receivers held up their end of the bargain, but there was the critical wide-open drop by McNutt that would have gained a 1st down (and much more), had he not turned his head too soon.  That was the play that preceded the field goal miss by Murray, 3 points that could have loomed very, very large in the end.

But oh, did we immediately get a glimpse of what a healthy Moeaki can do for us.  10 catches for 83 yards, and the leaping go ahead touchdown that held up under review.  If he can get just one little fingernail on the ball he is going to come down with it.  It seemed like Stanzi has complete confidence when throwing to Tony, and to Ricky’s credit, a few of those passes were on ropes, and placed exactly where only his tight end could catch it, and not the (in some cases 3) nearby defenders.  Reisner also had a catch for 12 yards, and a 1st down. The prospects for wide-open wideouts loom if those two guys can continue to make those plays and occupy defenders between the hash marks.

What did I behold, there was Stanzi not only handing off the ball to fullback Morse (sure, it was a 3rd and forever, but he got 16 yards), but also flipping a pass to him, which netted 7 (though he had more room, I think he was so surprised to get it that he kind of stumbled after the catch).  I like it, and I also liked seeing the Hawks use the draw play out of the shotgun, it seems like KOK is opening up the playbook a bit to make use of the players that he has.

Can’t really fault the rush defense, though UNI had a few bursts with that little guy Anderson, he was held to a 3.1 average.  The pass defense gave up 270 yards, which was an off day for them, of course 50 of those came on that bomb that got behind the safeties, thought they immediately brought him down, saving a TD.  Again, a key play in the final outcome.  There were a few ducks and close calls on tips, but we never were able to pull one down.  I expect that to change this week.  Spievey did as expected, knocking balls down, and making a couple critical open field tackles.  But we never got to see him with a clean punt return, so we wait for that potential magic this week.

True, the defense did allow a 90 plus yard scoring drive on the one UNI touchdown, and then in the fateful march they were not able to make the stops until UNI was in field goal range. Well, even then it was 1st down, so had there been a little more time, hard to say what might have happened.  But our offense was only 3-12 on 3rd down conversions, and 0-2 on 4th, so the defense was on the field a bit more than they probably planned on.  Clearly, the offense will have to do much better this week. 

And last but not least – the special teams.  Aside from the great punting, the kick coverage was good, allowing just 13 yards per effort.  And of course, the history making blocks.  See, I do know what I am talking about once or twice a year!  Seems that on the first UNI field goal, the Hawks noticed that it just cleared their heads, and it went through the uprights at less than 50% of their height.  So before the first attempt, they reminded each other of this, and then focused on getting a good push, then a well timed jump, to block it (as opposed to going around the end to dive and block it).  Viola. There was Binns, showing why he is now a starter.  Though it was not his end around speed, it was his jump.  Yes, now every Hawkeye player, and fan, knows the rule about in ‘front of or behind’ the line of scrimmage.  Hunter had the best chance to fall on that ball, but he redeemed himself on the 2nd kick, again with the power surge and the leap.  This time the Hawks fell on it (it was in front of the line, when you normally stay away from it), but the one second had elapsed, and the game was over either way.

So we escape with a win in a game we should have lost.  To be honest, I am ok with that.  I think this week of practice will be a lot more intense, and the players will certainly have full attention to the coaches.  The conventional wisdom says that football teams improve substantially from week 1 to week 2.  We did show some flashes of the well-executed team that we thought we had.  Now we see if they can turn those flashes into 60 minutes of production.  This would be a good week to start.

Week 2: Iowa State Cyclones

Nope, the Clowns are not on an 11 game losing streak, they finally broke their 10 game run of futility in week 1, downing North Dakota State in Ames.  NDSU is also a 1AA team, in the Missouri Valley with UNI, but the Bison are not an elite FCS team, going 6-5 in 2008.

That game was as close as 24-17 with about 20 minutes to play, but the Clones scored the final 10 to win 34-17.  It was victory #1 for new coach Paul Rhodes, maybe that will keep him around from more than 2 seasons.

The most interesting stat from this game was this: the Bison rushed for 210 yards on ISU’s defense.  I know our running game did not get out of the gate at full speed, but that could be about to change.  First, two-time letter winner Calloway is back at right tackle, pushing Dace inside to guard. Vandervelde has recovered from his surgery, and is working his way back, will likely see some snaps, though probably a week away from being game-shape.  So, with our line mostly intact, we go like this from left to right:

Bulaga, 6-6, 315
Richardson, 6-6, 305
Eubanks, 6-3, 280
Doering, 6-6, 300
Calloway, 6-7, 315

And now, the Cyclone defensive line, from left to right:

Parker, 5-11, 254
Alburtis, 6-1, 266
Frere, 6-1, 291
Lyle, 6-4, 257

If the Hawks can sustain some serious clock and field eating drives, those linemen will be gasping for air against our front line meat.  It’s official, Robinson is starting at tailback, and he is a Des Moines kid, he knows what this game is about, and is chomping at the bit to make his name heard in this rivalry.  The rushing attack will be better this week – and should the Clones sell out to try and stop it, our tight ends will eat them alive over the middle.

Passing games should progress from week to week, and by having our line at about 90%, Stanzi should have the time needed to make his reads.  I do believe that McNutt will look each and every pass into his hands, DJK will probably appear before 1:30 left in the 3rd, and the 6-4 Stross could feast on State’s secondary, none of whom top 5-11 – especially in the red zone, where they must also worry constantly about Moeaki.  By mid season, this might be the most explosive passing attack the Hawks have had since Ed ‘Highlight Film’ Hinkle and Clinton ‘Deep Threat’ Solomon wore the Black and Gold.  Maybe even the best since Chuck Long was winging them around.  Good things are ahead.

So the offense should be better, and after a down week (by their standards), I think the defense is going to be fired up to keep the current ISU touchdown-less streak (2 games) going.  State is basically running the same offense of the past couple years, the no-huddle spread option blah blah blah that we see about 50 % of the time these days, and quite routinely smash to pieces.  We often snuff out the running game entirely in those kinds of attacks, and a spread that is one dimensional is much easier to defend. 

ISU does have junior QB Arnuad, a kid we wanted, and some good size in their receiving corps, but we don’t have to worry about Spievey, and I think the Sash and Greenwood will have a better game and probably snag a pass.  Castillo gets the start on the other side, and he will be challenged, but that is the only way to get better.  And those tallish ISU wideouts best watch their heads as the roam into our linebacker territory. 

The Clones did have a 60-yard kick return in the opener, and as we know, special teams plays can turn a game on a dime, so our coverage must be excellent.  I think we will win every punting battle all year; Donahue puts so much air under the ball that our guys are right there when it comes down.  Sooner or later, somebody is going to catch it thinking they have room, get drilled, and fumble. 

The home team has won the last 5 in this series, but let’s keep in mind the Cyclones are still just one game away from being one of the worst teams in major college football, beat an average 1AA team, and will probably end up at the bottom of the Big 12 again. 

With our defense, and a balanced offense, there will be a few keys to staying in, and winning, tough road games. First, we must win the turnover battle, period. Second, our 3rd down efficiency has got to be up around 50% - sustained drives will help the defense. And last, when in the red zone, we must score touchdowns. Sounds simple really, and the Hawks don’t generally win with flash, they do it with fundamentals and capitalizing on mistakes.  That’s why I think if we show real progress this week, we will be well on our way to meeting each of those goals, and increasingly ready to tackle the tough road slate that awaits us in the Big Ten.

One of these years, we are going run into one of those classic 1980’s 52-10 smack downs.  If the Hawks can score a touchdown on the opening drive, and force ISU into some quick 3 and outs, it could get old very fast.  And as we showed last week, even if we fall behind, our game plan will get us back into it.  Our offense will improve, and the Cyclones must now face a Div. 1 defense.  If we are going to compete in places like Happy Valley (and we are), we have no business losing this one.



No comments:

Post a Comment