October 10, 2009

TES - 2009 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 6

Iowa’s Record:  5-0, 1-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #12 (823 votes)
USA Today: #14 (655 votes)
ESPN Power Rankings: #12
ESPNU Fan: #12
HARRIS: #11 (1492 votes)

2009 Iowa Football Schedule

September 5th Iowa v. Northern Iowa Panthers WIN 17-16
September 12th Iowa @ Iowa State Cyclones WIN 35-3
September 19th Iowa v. Arizona Wildcats WIN 27-17
September 26th Iowa @ Penn State Nittany Lions WIN 21-10
October 3rd Iowa v. Arkansas State Red Wolves WIN 24-21
October 10th Iowa v. Michigan Wolverines HOMECOMING, 8:05 pm, ABC
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 12:05 PM, ESPN/ESPN2
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

October 10th 2009: Iowa Hawkeyes v. Michigan Wolverines, 4-1, 1-1, Big Ten
Prior Games: 54, Michigan leads 40-10-4
Last Game: 2006, Iowa 6, Michigan 20

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +5

Current Line: Iowa -8

Scoring Defense 13.4, Pass Def 180.4, Rush Def 122.2, Interceptions 10, Total Defense 302.6
Big Ten                 #3                       #3                          #6                             #1                    #3
NCAA                  #10                      #31                        #50                           #2                    #32

Scoring Offense 24.8, Pass Offense 222.6, Rush Offense 139.6, Total Offense 362.2
Big Ten                #10                             #7                                 #7                               #9
NCAA                  #82                           #55                               #62                              #74
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!


Last Week: Arkansas State

Yes indeed, that game had a little bit of everything, from excellent play by the Hawks, to glaring mistakes that made a game that should have been put away still in play down to the final minute.

And this week, all the squads can share in the blame portion, as there was enough to go around for the offense, defense, and special teams.

But in the end, we are 5-0, and the last time the Hawkeyes could say that, it was 1995.  It’s football, the point is to score more points than the other team, and so far we have done that each and every Saturday.  As Texas was off last week, our now 9 game winning streak sits alone in 2nd, nationally, trailing only the Gators with 14 in a row.  Florida travels to LSU Saturday, with Tebow at this point uncertain. By the end of the night, we could very well have the longest streak in the nation.

To do so, we will need the Hawkeye offense to put together a few more drives like they did to start this one.  Wow.  I don’t know if it was indeed Bulaga who settled Stanzi down, but something did. 6 yards on two rushes, he then hits Reisner for 13 to our 47. The end around to Chaney nets 20 yards, and then Ricky hits the wide-open Stross for the 33-yard touchdown.  5 plays, 72 yards.  Red Wolves 3 and out, Hawks now with the ball again at their 37.

Wegher’s series, he opens it with a 13-yard scamper, a 4-yard reception, and then another 5 yard run.  Stanzi sneaks on the 3rd and 1, Hawks first down at the Wolf 40.  Wegher is stopped for no gain on the 1st down; Stanzi hits McNutt for no gain on the 2nd.  Oh, maybe we should try going over the top again.  Voila!  The 41 yard strike his McNutt in stride, touchdown Iowa, 14-0, and congrats Marvin on your first score as a Hawkeye.

Off we go, 21 point spread, no problem!  Wolves, 3 and out, again, Hawks have the ball at our 17.  We get to midfield in 7 plays, but stall there, and Donahue puts the first of his two touchbacks into the end zone.  Even he can have an off day.

The State offense wakes up this time, and an 8 play, 61-yard drive gets them to our 20, but then the Iowa defense finally puts a hit on tailback Jones (Sash), he loses it, and Binns makes the recovery. 

The subsequent drive is highlighted by another good Wegher run, this time for 19 yards, and the Hawks get as far as the Wolf 42.  But on a 3rd and 1 from there, State loads up the box with 8 men, and the Hawkeyes try to run right through it anyway.  They can’t, Wegher is dropped in the backfield, and Donahue again punts it a bit too far, touchback.  This was a sign of things to come, as the Iowa rushing attack would bog down under heavy defensive fronts for most of the rest of the day.

Ensuring play, the Wolves commit an offensive facemask on a play where tailback Arnold has been hit for a two-yard loss.  But the Hawks don’t accept the penalty that would push the Wolves back inside the 10, and on that 2nd and 12, the QB Leonard hits a 16-yard strike for a first at the 34.  They never move from there, but still questionable why the Iowa staff declined the penalty, in light of our recent success when pushing people within the shadow of their goal line. 

Hawks try a little razzle dazzle on the next series, but the Wolves don’t fall for it, so the McNutt to Stross pass falls incomplete.  Another trip across the 50, but once again a punt, thought this time it is not a touchback, and the Hawks miss their first of about 4 chances at turnovers (that we don’t get) when they can’t pounce on Walker’s fumble. 

Which is too bad, as this was the drive where the Wolves finally made some noise.  The Iowa defense gives up a 16 yard pass on a 3rd and 2, one play later they allow the tailback Arnold a 26 yard run, thanks to a couple missed tackles.  Another pass of 21 yards gets the ball to our 13.  The defense stuffs the 1st down run, but then the Wolves are able to exploit Lowe’s disadvantage, where had he been an inch taller than his 5-10, he would have been able to defend the play.  But he isn’t, touchdown, and Kinnick, the bar, and Hawkeye Nation are none too pleased with the 7-point halftime lead.

It’s halftime, no futile brat searches nor dry down sessions required this week, all I have to do is grab another beer from the bar, and all the Iowa coaches must do is make their usual halftime adjustments.  Surely they are also not pleased that the Hawkeyes seemed to doze off once up 14-0, and we can expect them to emerge the halftime ready to play.

Wolves gain just 2 on their 1st down, and on the 2nd, the Hawks are called for a very iffy pass interference penalty on Lowe (after not calling a much more obvious one against the Wolves in the 1st half, on a drive killing 3rd down).  Wolves now at their 37, but alas, one of Leonard’s passes is a wee bit errant (under pressure), and who is back there, Mr. Sash. He takes it 13 yards back to the State 44; Hawks now starting over the 50, now everyone wonders if the offense got the message at halftime. 

They did.  Wegher is stopped for just one yard, but Stanzi pump fakes the safety out of the way and lays the ball perfectly for McNutt, he snags the 43-yard pass and strolls into the end zone.  21-7 Iowa, td #2 for Marvin, Hawkeye fans everywhere breathing a bit easier.

Wolves do their part with another 3 and out, but this time the out is a fake punt, stopped, fumble, and another Iowa touchdown!!!  Nope, the ball lands out of bounds; Hawkeyes have it at the Arkansas 44.  Stanzi to DJK for 27, where are now in the red zone, coming any second, but a Bulaga false start (hey, 3 weeks off, a little rust expected) pushes us back to the 22.  Robinson gains 12 yards, but then the Wolves stop him for one, and the 3rd and 4 falls incomplete.  No problem, the chip shot field goal will push the lead to 24-7, and we will be on our way.  But Murray shanks it, so the lead remains at 14, and some interesting series were now going to get under way.

The Wolves complete another 3rd and long (10 yards, they are 7-14 on the day, which is an off day for the Iowa defense).  But they stall at their 39, and this time it’s a real punt, Hawks with the ball at their 26.  Hawks try Wegher against the 8 man front, he goes nowhere.  Now Stanzi gets a little to carried away with the look off – when he comes back to the left be fires almost without looking – into the arms of a Wolf defender, who bobbles it, McNutt takes a swipe at it, but only ends up putting it right into the hands of another Wolf.  Turnover, State now has the ball at the Iowa 27.

The Hawkeyes stuff the 1st down run, but on the 2nd, Leonard hits Tompkins, and as he nears the 1st down, is drilled, and loses the ball.  It’s right there for the taking, but too many Hawks try to fall on it, and the resulting shove of the ball pushes it right back into Tompkin’s lap.  One of about 4 plays, by my count, where the just-off Hawkeye defense misses turnovers that they should have had (the others, passes touched by the defense, but not hauled in).  Wolves have new life, and get as far as the Hawkeye 8, but the Iowa defense stops the 3rd and 1 pass.  Another chip shot field goal, but as was the case last week, the State kicker feels for his Iowa counterpart, and misses it wide (just) left.

The Hawks get the ball back at 3:45 of the 3rd, what we need is a nice, long scoring drive, to push the lead to 21, and shut the door for good.  The offense is not able to gain any ground running, but Stanzi hits Stross for 18, then Davis for 21, the Hawks are now inside the Wolf 40.  A holding call on Cheney negates a Wegher 4 yard run, on the 3rd down Stanzi hits Brandon for 8 to the State 36.  Hawks go for it, and this time get the pass interference call, 1st down Hawks just 12 feet from the Wolf red zone.

Wegher again meets the stacked front for just a yard, and the 2nd down pass falls incomplete.  Hawks just need a smart play, the about 40 yard field goal will push the lead to 17, which is 3 scores up, time is wasting.  Nope, Stanzi locks onto the crossing DJK, and the Wolf defender sees the pass coming, undercuts it, and somehow goes all 75 yards back for the touchdown.  Fortunately for us, he dives into the end zone, which you can’t do these days, and after the extra point makes it 21-14, Arkansas must kick off from their 15-yard line. 

Chaney returns the kickoff 22 yards to the Iowa 42, and the Hawks are in business.  1st down, Stanzi goes over the top to McNutt along the far sideline, 37 yards to the Wolf 21. We would move it as far as the 3 yard line, but are unable to stuff it into the end zone, and this time Murray does not miss the extra point length field goal, Hawks 24-14.

Hawks kick off and State has the ball at their 32 with 10:00 to play.  Time for the Iowa defense to shut the door, just as they did a week earlier.  But they can’t.  The drive goes 17 plays, 68 yards, in 8 minutes.  In it, the Wolves complete a 3rd and 10 for 14, 3rd and 7 for 8, then 3rd and 27 (after a Clayborn sack) for 26 yards.  After a time out, go for the 4th and 1, and execute the Tebow like jump pass for another 1st down.  3 plays later, it’s 3rd and 9 at the Iowa 16, and here we go again, a 12 yard pass has the ball 1st and goal at the Hawkeye 4 yard line.  The Hawks stop the 1st down play, but on the 2nd, completely forget about the tight end, and the Wolves run the jump pass again, touchdown, the lead down to just 3 points.

McNutt snags the onside kick, and the Hawks were able to bleed all but 10 seconds off of the clock.  Both State passes fall harmlessly to the turf, and the game ends at 24-21.  Hardly a thing of beauty, but the kind of game the Hawkeye teams of the past few years might very well have found a way to lose.  This team did not.

Yes, Stanzi did have a season high 298 passing, 3 perfectly thrown long touchdowns, and hitting 18-26 was a 69% completion rate, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But both interceptions were bad decisions, and the Hawks were lucky the 1st one did not result in points.  You can’t expect a quarterback to go through a game without making some mistakes.  But in both of those passes, the play was right in front of him.  He needed to see the coverage and eat it, or find his check down option.  But, I do have faith that he will not make the same kind of mistakes this week.

I guess in hindsight, bringing Bulaga back into the lineup did cause some disruption for the O-line, and they had an off game.  No sacks allowed, and Stanzi generally had enough time, but the run blocking was not very good, in particular Vandervelde was letting defenders into the backfield with way too much ease.  Wegher was able to get 4.4 per touch to his 49 total, but Robinson was only able to eek out 2.7 per touch on the way to his 38 yards.  The Hawks just run for 124, total, 20 of those on the Chaney run, and 19 on Stanzi’s scrambles. .  When you are bombing touchdowns over the top, it tends to hold that you should be able to find running room.  But it was a game of ebb and flow, and when the Wolves lined up to stop the run, they were pretty successful at it.  Which begs the question, when the Hawks took the line and saw 8 men in the box, how bout some play action passes to the tight ends, fullbacks, or maybe a toss sweep to the speedy Wegher? 

Course maybe KOK and the Hawkeye coaches were keeping things close to the vest, ready to unload the full playbook on the Wolverines this week.  If that’s the case, all is forgiven.

Yeah, the Iowa defense only gave up 80 yards total rushing, which is fine.  But the 216 passing was a bit of a concern, especially as many of those came on 3rd and long, and were successful for 1st downs.  Then again, our pass efficiency defense still leads the Big Ten by a wide margin, and moved from 6th last week, to 4th this week, nationally. 

Special teams.  One of these days, a Murray missed field goal might come back to haunt us.  Let’s hope he goes on a run starting this week.  As mentioned, not one but two touchbacks for Donahue, but in his defense the Hawkeye offense was stalling across midfield quite a bit, he can’t cut loose in that situation.  A mere 4 punt return yards gained, but I think Chaney is gaining confidence, and looks like he might be ready to hit that hole and use his speed.  Son, this would a good week to find that spark!

There is some upside to winning games in this fashion. Had we blown them out, after decimating the Penn State offense a week earlier, the Hawks might have been a bit too high, and maybe even over confidant, in practice this week.  Now I suspect that is not the case.  There is no part of the Iowa team that does not have concrete things they have to work on – and because of that, yes, I do think they are going to come out and play better against Michigan than they did against Arkansas State.

Week 6: Michigan

Ah, Michigan.  After the two year lay off, we meet again.  In 2002 our beat down of you signaled that the Hawks had arrived, and we would go on to claim the Big Ten title.  That was in your house, but the circumstances are much the same in ours, this time around.

I suppose you probably thought you were all the way back, when you opened 3-0 against the likes of Western Michigan, the Irish, and Central Michigan.  But then you got badly outplayed by the Hoosiers, in the Big House, yet somehow found a way to win.  Then you went out on the road, finally, into a classic rivalry game, and you let a bad Spartan team embarrass your running game, and take you down in overtime.  So, better than last year, sure, but still a ways away from being one of the elite Big Ten teams again.

The Wolverines, of course, have ditched the traditional Big Ten power offense for, surprise, the spread option attack.  Though they are a ways away from the Steve Slaton/Pat White version of it, if RichRod is allowed to stay around long enough (a big ‘if’, with the impatient alumni base in Ann Arbor), they might get somewhere near there a few seasons down the road.

Not that the Hawks are afraid of it, as we see this about 75% of the time these days.

Michigan gave up 467 total yards to the Hoosiers, including 197 on the ground, in a game where Indiana had 5 red zone trips, but 4 field goals.  One more td would have made the Michigan go ahead td with 2:29 left moot, but that’s the Hoosiers for ya.  Last week, the 1-3 Spartans also racked up 197 ground yards, and allowed the Wolverines a scant 28, net.  Still, a 60 yard pass with 4:03 to go, then the game tying td with 2 seconds left (from 9 yards out), got Michigan to overtime.  There, the super-hyped freshman QB Forcier forced a bad throw under pressure, and was picked off in the end zone.  The Spartans then got a 23 yard run on their 1st OT possession to win it, on a play where the Wolverines miss about 4.5 solid tackle opportunities.

So Michigan got a taste of a hostile environment, and it did not go well.  Now they get us, at 8:00 pm instead of noon, on a night expected to bottom out at 32 degrees.  I trust the trip to Kinnick will be another frightful experience for the young Wolverines.

Tate (Forcier) has only gained 2.1, 1.5, and 0.8 yards per carry in his last 3 contests, after lighting up Notre Dame for 70 yards, at 5.4 per touch.  I am sure the Hawkeye defense is watching the tape closely, and will be ready to stay in their lanes and contain him from getting down field.  The true freshman QB has some banged up ribs and a shoulder, and with the expected chill, those hits should register with more intensity.  At 6’1 and 188, he is not exactly solid to begin with, so when the Hawkeye defense has a chance to drill him (legally, of course), they must take it.  Note the rattled senior QB Clark, after the Iowa D pounded him for 45 minutes.  It may not take that long in a chilled, dark Kinnick.

The Wolverines also use 3 tailbacks, Brown, Minor, and Robinson, all who season to date average over 5 yards per carry, but they were a part of the 28 net last week as well.  As long as we are handcuffing the QB, the Iowa defense must be prepared to take them away. 

Forcier has thrown 9 tds against 3 picks, but in cold and wind, against a fired up to improve Iowa defense, he might find things a bit tougher this week.  And Prater is back at corner, so he won’t have Lowe to pick on.  Just a freshman, let’s see if Sash and Greenwood can bait some throws into their grasp.  The Iowa defense had an off week last Saturday; I would not bet that Norm will allow that to happen in back to back games.

Will the Iowa offense be able to put more drives together this week? I think so. It starts, like always, with the guys up front.  Now that they had a full week, plus, with Bulaga back, there should be fewer communication issues this Saturday.  Not to mention, when the O-line has a bad week, who casts his critical eye on it?  Yup, Kirk.  And it does seem that finally, Moeaki will be able to play, and aside from his pass catching ability, he acts like another tackle in the running game.   The Wolverines are giving up 187 yards on the ground over the past 4 weeks, so look for the Iowa offense to get things on track with Robinson and Wegher Saturday.

Now that we see what McNutt can do when Stanzi does not throw behind him, we can expect him to make significant strides in the weeks ahead to becoming a legit deep threat whenever he is in there.  I think our wideout coach Campbell will be fired up to show the staff that didn’t want him that his boys are ready to play.  The better play of the O-line should result in Stanzi getting the time to make his reads; we just need him to make the smart plays this week, and not force it.  Both tailbacks have shown they can take the dump off and generate good yardage, so there is nothing wrong with going that route when the pressure is there.  And then there is Tony, who by now has got to be about raving mad, and looking to take his misfortune out on someone.  This week, that would happen to be the Wolverines.

The Hawks have yet to pay Michigan (and the officials) back for the 23-20 OT loss that broke our Kinnick 22 game winning streak in 2005.  Another long winning streak is on the line now, and I think we will be ready to keep it intact.  Oh, and the last time that Iowa was ranked ahead of Michigan during this game week?  1985.  Hawks 12, Michigan 10.  Can the past come back to haunt the Wolverines?

Absolutely, as who will be getting the black-clad Hawkeye fans all fired up before kickoff?  None other than 1985 senior linebacker, and consensus 1st team All American, Larry Station.  That’s right; the Iowa all time leading tackler (492 of them) is going into the College Football Hall of Fame next summer and the Hawks will be saluting him before kickoff, then he gets his HOF plaque at halftime.  Also, the Packers and Chargers have the bye this week, and word around Iowa City is Kaeding and Kampman will be there, so maybe that will have Murray making all his kicks (not that we want any field goals).  And any Hawkeye defensive player can learn something from Kampman, namely, that when you give 100% on every play, good things happen (he, 3rd in sacks in the NFL over the last 3 seasons). 

And now there is word that another ghost from Hawkeye victories of the past will be there Saturday.  Another consensus All American from the 1985 team, and He Knows Football.  Chuck Long, our honorary captain for week 6.

Finally, the 3rd and last spirit will be 70,000 strong.  In low 30 something temps, screaming, yelling, and jumping around can help warm you up. Once the Hawks take the lead, those 3rd downs will be difficult for the Michigan offense. 

We are now into uncharted territory for the Ferentz lead Hawkeyes, and the only path is to keep moving forward.  The last two weeks have shown that these Wolverines are ready for the taking, and if the Hawks are going to go into hostile environments over the next two weeks, they have to emerge from this one with confidence.  Michigan can only win this game if we give it to them – turnovers, poor execution.  But this week, we know who we think they are, so the Hawkeyes will be ready to go from the 1st snap.

Once again we get ABC all to ourselves, though we are also up against Florida/LSU on CBS at the same time.  No matter, enough fans around the country will see the game, and the buzz around the Hawkeyes will continue to grow. 

For those of you heading back to Kinnick, bundle up, and have a safe trip. For the rest of you NYC Hawkeyes, kick off is at 8:05, and the bar is ours.  Get ready for a good time on Saturday night!



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