October 31, 2009

TES - 2009 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 9

Iowa’s Record:  8-0, 4-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #7 (1148 votes)
USA Today: #8 (1086 votes)
ESPN Power Rankings: #7 (292 votes)
ESPNU Fan: #4
HARRIS: #8 (2086 votes, 1 #1 vote)
BCS: #4 Avg .8249  #1 in 5 of 6 computer rankings!

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 WIN 30-28
October 17th Iowa @ Wisconsin Badgers WIN 20-10
October 24th Iowa @ Michigan State WIN 15-13
October 31st Iowa v. Indiana Hoosiers 12:05 PM, ESPN
November 7th Iowa v. Northwestern Wildcats 12:05 PM, ESPN
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 31st 2009: Iowa Hawkeyes v. Indiana Hoosiers, 4-4, 1-3, Big Ten
Prior Games: 70, Iowa leads 39-27-4
Last Game: 2008, Iowa 45, Indiana 9

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +11
+1.38, Big Ten #1, NCAA #6

Current Line: Iowa -17.5

Scoring Defense 14.75, Pass Def 174.2, Rush Def 122.2, Interceptions 15, Total Defense 296.5
Big Ten                 #3                       #2                          #6                             #1                    #3
NCAA                  #14                      #17                        #44                           #1                    #18

Scoring Offense 23.6, Pass Offense 219.1, Rush Offense 123.0, Total Offense 342.1
Big Ten                #8                             #6                                 #9                               #10
NCAA                  #86                           #60                               #91                             #87
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: Michigan State

All right, so that did not quite go down as I thought it would, but then, it’s only fitting that in a history making win, it should be a history making play that is the difference.

And I did get the Spartan 13 right.  At first, I was thinking Hawks 31-16…but that was a point over our defensive average, so I reconsidered.  Glad I did!

However less-than-thrilling the game was for the first 57 minutes, the most amazing part was that the Hawks could take the punch to the gut of giving up the lead as they did, but once again, were unfazed, and made the plays to win it.  Then again, in those other games, we fell behind in the 1st quarter, not with 90 seconds left.

How we got there was a bit of a field goal snooze fest, though that was primarily due to excellent defense by both teams, and failed opportunities by the Hawkeyes to put the game away with a more fluid offense.  Any fluidity, actually.

Hawks get the ball 1st, but after a delay of game on the 3rd offense snap, were unable to make up the 15 yards and had to punt.  The only notable thing about this drive is bad news.  On the 3rd down, Dace Richardson gets tangled up and breaks a bone in his foot.  4-6 weeks, he could return for the bowl, but that’s a lot of time to miss for a big guy.  He has been our most consistent lineman this year, which was great to see after all the injury problems he has had.  He is also a fine young man, and I hope that he is somehow able to come back for his last game in the Black and Gold.  As a prime candidate for the 6th year, I really hope that that won’t be his last game with the Hawkeyes.

Spartans get the ball at their 21 and are able to keep it 8 plays, but stall at the 50.  The punt is a touchback, Hawk possession #2 from the 20-yard line.

Wegher for 4, and then a pass to DJK for 11 gets the ball out to the 35, but then two incomplete passes and a sack have the Hawks going 5 and out.  Spartans get the ball back at their 38 after the return. 

The Spartans gain 3 on the 1st down run, but then hit a 23-yard pass to our 36.  Tailback Baker then goes for 9 yards and loses it, but the Hawks can’t fall on it (the 1st of two fumbles they fail to get).  The Spartans would get as far as our 17, but from there they are stopped, and lead 3-0 after the 34-yard field goal.

Hawks are down, the question now is, can they respond before falling down even more?  Indeed.

After Wegher brings the kick back to our 26, it’s time for the Adam Robinson show.  4 carries, 5, 7, 5 and 14 yards get us to the Spartan 43.  Wegher is stuffed after 1 yard, but then on the 2nd and 9, Stanzi hits him on a screen, and with big ugly linemen in front, he rambles (well, sprints) 23 yards to the State 19.  Hawks are in business as the 1st quarter comes to a close.

The 2nd opens with Adam being dropped for a 2-yard loss, he then gains 5 on 2nd down.  But on the 3rd and 7, Stanzi is sacked, and Murray comes in to tie it up at 3 with his 37-yard kick.

The Spartans would go 5, and the Hawks then 3 and out, State gets the ball back then with 8:29 left in the half.  6 plays get them to a 3rd down and 2 at our 30, but Cousins gets introduced to Clayborn, and the 10-yard sack pushes them out of field goal range.  As it turned out, there would be 3 more field goals in this game, and all of them were from the yardage of an extra point.

Iowa gets the ball back at our 10, but stall after 6 plays at the 32.  Spartans get the ball with 1:24 left, but the half ends with them at our 46.

If you liked defense, (and who doesn’t), you were ok with the 3-3 half.  Oh, and we were not trailing this time, so we don’t have to come back, we just have to shut them down and pull away.  Got em right where we want em.

1st half stats: Rushing, us 54, them 50.  Passing, us 35, them 82.  So much for exposing their weak secondary (well, until later).  3rd downs, Iowa 1/6, State 2/7.  Some Hawkeyes in the comfy Opal booths appear to be napping.  Me, just trying to figure out where the 4 Iowa touchdowns are going to come from. 

Hawks kick off, and the Spartans make a little noise with a 22-yard pass out to their 47, but the Hawks sack Cousins again and State must give it up after 5 plays.

Our 1st possession: time to take charge, execute a nice long drive, and begin to wear their defense down.  Nope, 3 and out, Donahue punts it to the Spartan 18.

Here is where the game should have changed for good.  On the 1st down, they drill tailback Caper for a 2-yard loss.  As he is going down, he loses it, and it looks like Clayborn is right there to fall on the ball, Hawks in business inside the Spartan red zone.  But no, somehow the Spartans get it back, and rush for no gain on the 2nd down.  They then commit a false start, and face a 3rd and 17 on their 11-yard line.  Time for the Iowa defense to apply the strangle hold and flip the field position, but they give up a 28-yard strike to White for the Spartan 1st down.  

This seems to stun the Iowa defense for a bit, as the Spartans would then rush for 4, and then pass for 19, to our 38.  On that 1st down Baker gets the near corner turned, and by the time the Hawks get him down, he has gotten all the way to the Hawkeye 2-yard line.

The jumpy Hawkeye defense then leaps offsides, and the Spartans now have a 1st and goal 3 feet from the Iowa end zone.

Spartans try play action on 1st down, but the Hawks know it’s coming and have the play double covered.  Spartans figure they can now stuff it in, and on 2nd, hand off to Baker, but the Iowa line has found it’s footing, and he gets no further than the line of scrimmage.  3rd down now, State tries it again with Baker, and once again he slams into a Hawkeye wall.  4th and goal from the 1, Spartans decide to kick the chip shot field goal (after taking the delay of game for the better angle).  6-3 State, 5:21 left in the 3rd.

DJK takes the ensuing kickoff back 26 yards and our drive begins at the 38.  Stanzi hits Moeaki (finally) for 4 yards, Adam then runs for 12, and we are across midfield at the Spartan 46.  3 straight incompletions kill the drive, and Donahue boots it to a Spartan fair catch at their 12.

If the Hawks can get the stop, they will win this field position exchange.  We do, and force the quick 3 and out from the MSU 14, where their punter semi-shanks it, and the ball rolls out of bounds right at the midfield stripe.  2:27 left in the 3rd, we need to do something now.

After a failed pass to kick of the drive, Brandon runs for 9, then Ricky scramble for 2 and the 1st down.  Now at the Spartan 36, he hits Sandeman for 6 yards, and the Spartans now commit an offsides, thanks for the free 1st down State!  The quarter ends with Wegher meeting Spartans as soon as he takes the handoff, and he is dropped for a 3-yard loss. 

The 4th begins with the Hawks facing the 2nd and 13, from the Spartan 31.  Ricky scrambles for 8 yards, then on 3rd and 5, Wegher explodes through a tiny seem for 11, and the Hawks are now on the MSU 12-yard line.

State defense is now stunned, and Robinson takes it 11 more to the 1.  1st and goal, we try Adam again, but he goes nowhere.  On 2nd, Stanzi tries to hit Morse out in the flat, but he is only able to get a finger on it.  Adam again, but he is stopped once more, and Murray comes in to kick the 20 yard extra point/field goal. It’s low, but good, and we are now all square again at 6.  11:43 to go.

Spartans, 6 and out, Hawks now have the ball again at our 26.  Adam for 4, then 1 yard, we face a 3rd and 5.  Thank you, the same State d-lineman commits another offsides, and we take the 2nd free 1st down.  Robinson runs for 3, then Stanzi rolls out, but does not go downfield, he just dumps it off to Sandeman right at the line of scrimmage.  He catches it, turns, and then is drilled and falls to the ground immediately, clearly unconscious.  It was obvious to me at full speed, and the replays only confirmed it, it was a helmet-to-helmet hit.  Now the flag comes in, Spartan nation is enraged that is comes after the fact, but Hawkeye nation knows it should have been thrown immediately.  Regardless, the 15-yard penalty gives us new life at the State 45.

Adam nets 5 on 2 runs, and we face the 3rd and 5 from the MSU 40.   Finally, Stanzi is able to go over the top with success, and he hits a diving DJK for 32, and here were are again, 1st down at the Spartan 8.  Adam gains 5 yards to the 3, but on 2nd, the Hawks commit a questionable holding call (Bulaga, seemed like the Spartan lineman just fell down on his own), and we are now back on the 13.  Adam again, he goes for 3 yards, but at the end of his run, gets a little bit of one his blockers feet as he lands, and you knew as he went down that it was not good.  High ankle sprain, Adam looks to be out for the final 4 games – maybe able to return for the bowl.  At the time of his injury, Adam had career highs in carries (27) and yards (109).  It’s certain he will top the yardage mark, but with Hampton, Brinson, Wegher, and Robinson (plus more) playing next year, that could be his high water mark for carries. 

Wegher now seems to find a hole, but his 8-yard run is stopped at the 2.  Once again, the Murray kick is very low, but it’s good, Hawks now lead for the 1st time, 9-6.  2:25 left, all we need now is the defense to sow it up.  Not pretty, but a win is a win.

Iowa kick coverage breaks down a bit, and the Spartans take it back to their 40.  Now the Iowa line can just charge ahead, and the boys register sacks on both the MSU 1st and 2nd downs.  3rd and 18 from their 32, State calls timeout to discuss their options. ‘Good’, I think, this will allow the boys up front to rest, and then make the play after the time out.

Not quite.  Spartans complete the hook and lateral to White, who runs it 27 more yards to our 30.  Crap.  Another Spartan timeout, this time at 1:49 left.  The 1st down pass falls harmlessly to the turf, but on 2nd down, Cousins side steps the Hawkeye rush twice, and is able to get off a 30 yard pass to White.  The Iowa safeties can’t get to the middle of the field fast enough, touchdown Spartans, the stadium explodes, and the Hawks now trail 13-9 after the extra point.  Hawkeye Nation, the bar, Iowa fans everyone are stunned and silent, but as the game goes to commercial, I say to myself ‘they scored too soon.’

DJK returns the kickoff to our 30.  97 seconds after left, and we have 1 timeout in our pocked.  At this point, Stanzi has competed only 7 passes (out of 18), for 78 total yards.  I suspect the Spartan fans thought it was in the bag.  They didn’t realize that Ricky has ice running through his veins.

1st down, hello McNutt, for 15 yards to the 45.  Stanzi is now pressured and gets 3-yards on the scramble.  The next pass to Marvin does not work, so we face a 3rd and 7 from our 48.  The Iowa line provides the protection this time, and Ricky is able to wait for Stross to clear over the middle, he hits him and the crossing route nets 21 to the MSU 31, 1st down Hawkeyes.  Spartan Stadium is getting a bit quieter with each completed pass.

Ricky fires for DJK at the near pylon, it’s close, but on the turf. On 2nd, Ricky tries DJK again; he makes a leaping 16-yard catch surrounded by 3 Spartan defenders.  1st down from the 15, why not, he tries DJK, but it’s clear he is being interfered with, so when the Spartans pick off the pass, the Hawkeyes know right away the State fans need to shut up.

Ok, 1st and goal now from the 7.  Stanzi rolls to the right, then comes back to the left to Tony, but the Spartans are double covering him all the way, incomplete.  2nd down, 9 seconds left, the quick pass fails.  Now 3rd, 5 seconds left, once again the quick slant is off target, two seconds left.  4th and goal from the 7, Hawks call timeout.

During the break, McNutt tells KOK and KF that he is sure he can get inside the corner who has been covering him.  Knowing the considerable size advantage Marvin had over that defensive back, they design the play.  All the other wideouts would be on the right of the formation.  Tony would start on the left side, then go in motion back to the right – it works, and the Spartan defense shifts players to follow him.  At the snap, McNutt is alone with single coverage.  It’s a quick slant – the Iowa line provides the time, Stanzi fires, and you can barely see the Spartan behind him as Marvin snags it at the 1, and strolls into the end zone.  Touchdown Iowa, complete and utter pandemonium at Opal, that small section of Spartan Stadium, and in Hawkeye Nation everywhere. 

Hawks are made to attempt the extra point, but Stanzi just victory formations the play, and Iowa has won the game 15-13.

It’s all over but the shouting, and that seems to go on for something like 21 minutes after the Beer Song ends.   My voice gets so shot that I am forced to drink water for a bit to get it back - after the victory drinks, of course.

So the Hawkeye have faced down and defeated 3 of the 4 ‘impossible’ road games.  And while the human voters may not have cared much, that computers think that, along with all our other wins, is good enough for numero uno in all the land.

5 out of 6 of them, actually, which when combined with our Harris and USA Today poll positions, land us at our highest BCS ranking (ever) of #4.  Now, there are 4 weeks to go, so I’m not going to get into the various scenarios at this time – but until then, you need to cheer for every team that we have beaten to run the table.   And Florida, Bama, and Texas to lose.

The Hawks also lost a man when Greenwood and Sash banged heads while making a tackle.  Brett appeared on the sideline later in the game, and he is back at starter on the two deep, so hopefully our defense will be intact, while the offense works on replacing the injured starters this week.

It wasn’t easy, but the road has treated us well.  Now we return for 3 of 4 in the friendly confines.  In each of these games, the Hawks will be big favorites.  But now, it won’t be enough to just win these games – we need the style points gained by blowing teams out.

Week 9: Indiana

The Hoosiers were probably thinking they were going to come into Iowa City on a 2 game winning streak, after they jumped ahead of Northwestern 28-3 midway through the 2nd quarter last Saturday.  No.  The Wildcats got back within 28-17 by halftime, and then they drilled a 19-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to finish off Indiana, 29-28. 

That means they have lost 3 out of 4, with the one win coming over 1-6 Illinois, 27-14.  Indiana started well against the likes of Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, and Akron, but then fell in a close game to Michigan, a not so close game to Ohio State, and then got blown out at Virginia 47-7, before topping Illinois 2 weeks ago.  So against BCS level schools, their only victory came over the Zooksters.  Not much of a resume.

This team returns 15 starters from a group that we did blow out in Bloomington last year, so the Hawks should be able to envision a more comfortable Saturday this week in practice.

The Hoosiers are dead last in the conference in passing defense, allowing over 246 yards a game.  Their pass efficiency defense is also bad - 9th in the Big Ten, 89th overall.  They have given up 13 td passes (compared to 6 for Iowa), so I don’t think Stanzi is going to struggle to find downfield completions this week.  Vandervelde is back in Dace’s absence; the O-line has been playing better, but not quite up to par yet. Maybe this week.

With Adam out, Brandon takes over the #1 tailback spot, with O’Meara behind him.  Wegher should then get somewhere between 20-25 carries – which I think could be a benefit to him.  First, it’s harder to find a rhythm when you alternate series, and 2nd, with that many carries, I am willing to bet that he will break one for a longer-than-30 yard touchdown Saturday.  Indiana’s defense allows over 26 points a game, look for the Hawks to have more touchdowns than field goals this week.

Hoosier QB Chappell is no runner, so the Iowa defense will not have to worry about that again this week.  To date, he has thrown 7 picks, and I would also bet the Iowa secondary will not go two weeks without getting one. 

Their top tailback is a freshman, Wills, #28, who opened the Northwestern game with a 70 yard td run – though he would only mange 33 more yards on 13 more carries the rest of the way.  Our rushing defense has its moments, but we still need a complete shut down kind of game.  Let’s see it this week boys. 

Indiana does have a weapon in senior cornerback/return man Ray Fisher.  Last week, he brought back a kickoff 93 yards to push the ill-fated Hoosier lead to 28-3, his 2nd return td (he also handles punts) this year.  So the Iowa coverage teams must stay in their lanes and wrap up when they get their hands on him.  Not that I am so worried about the punt coverage, as Ryan will give us the height needed to get down field – it’s the kick off coverage that has been a bit spotty from time to time. 

Sandeman is still listed as the punt return guy on the two deep, but it’s not likely he is going to play this week.  If not, it’s looking like Spievey will be back there again, and there is also a chance that Sash could take a kick or two, and he has shown his elusiveness on interception returns.  I think we will be ok there, and it sure seems like DJK is going to break a kickoff return one of these days.  If we can get any kind of special teams points, it should make for a long day for the Hoosiers.

The talking heads will probably wax on about Iowa looking ahead two weeks.  I don’t think so. With the season now two thirds complete, we are in a position where winning all the games will get us an out right Big Ten title, and if the chips fall the right way, the chance at something way bigger than that.  The coaches won’t say it, but the players know we have to win these home games going away.  Look for the Hawkeyes to give their most complete effort of the season on Saturday.

You are probably aware of a certain holiday that happens to coincide with game day this week (and an extra hour that night to celebrate that, and the Hawkeye victory).  Costumes are optional at the bar, and encouraged.  Me, nope, if you see me Saturday night, you will understand why. 

All right my friends, just one more day to kill, and then a noon game, so you don’t have to find anything to do on Saturday. Just wake up, then show up, and the fun will begin!



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