November 14, 2009

TES - 2009 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 11

Iowa’s Record:  9-1, 5-1 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #15 (741 votes)
USA Today: #13 (757 votes)
ESPN Power Rankings: #14 (193 votes)
ESPNU Fan: #9
HARRIS: #12 (1540 votes)
BCS: #10 Avg .5745

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 WIN 42-24
November 7th Iowa v. Northwestern Wildcats Loss 17-10
November 14th Iowa @ Ohio State Buckeyes 3:35 PM ABC/ESPN
November 21st Iowa v. Minnesota Golden Gophers 12:02 PM, ESPN/ESPN2

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

November 14th 2009: Iowa Hawkeyes @  #10 AP/#11 USA/#11 BCS Ohio State Buckeyes, 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten
Prior Games: 61, Ohio State leads 44-14-3
Last Game: 2006, OSU 38 Iowa 17

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +5
+.50, Big Ten #4, NCAA #35

Current Line: Iowa +16.5

Scoring Defense 15.90, Pass Def 173.0, Rush Def 118.7, Interceptions 19, Total Defense 291.7
Big Ten                 #3                       #3                          #6                             #1                    #3
NCAA                  #13                      #16                        #38                           #1 tie               #14

Scoring Offense 24.1, Pass Offense 230.6, Rush Offense 119.2, Total Offense 349.8
Big Ten                #9                             #6                                 #9                               #10
NCAA                  #86                           #47                               #94                             #82
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: Northwestern

Yes friends, when you consider all that was on the line, this had to be the hardest loss in the Ferentz era.  But let’s get this out there right from the first paragraph.  An outright Big Ten title, and Rose Bowl invite, are still out there, within our grasp.

Which might be hard to believe with the way you feel right now, but it is true.  Win Saturday, and the Rose Bowl berth is clinched.  More on that, later.

It certainly looked like we were going to steam roll into Columbus, and it was that start that made the loss especially painful.  On the very first 3rd down (7 to go), Stanzi gets time, looks up, and finds McNutt has once again gotten behind the safety.  Ricky hits him in stride, and the 74-yard td has the Hawkeyes leading 60 seconds into the game.  We have been waiting a long time for that opening drive td, (since the ASU game), and what a way it was to get the game going.  And from there, the blow out seemed on.

Northwestern obliges, on their first 3rd down, Kafka is sacked by Ballard, that’s a 3 and out by the Wildcats.  After the punt, Hawkeye ball at our 37.

Wegher now, 11 yards on 1st down.  Stanzi rolls out to the right, and then throws back into the middle (risky, but it works this time), where he finds Stross for 30 more, and we are now six feet short of the red zone.  Brandon again for 2 yards, then on 2nd down, the Hawks look like they are running an end around, but Wegher keeps the ball and gets dropped for a 2 yard loss.  Turns out, he should have handed off to McNutt – Marvin had clear sailing for yards as the Cat defense all swarmed toward the far side. 

3rd and 10 now, and DJK is the one now open, the pass to the pylon is right there, but Derrell has trouble getting out of his 2nd move, stumbled, and could not get there.  Murray comes in to kick the 39-yard field goal.  It’s good, and the Hawkeyes have a two score lead 5 minutes into the game.

It looks like the Hawkeye defense is about to throw up another 3 and out after the Wildcats go deep on 3rd down and overshoot their guy.  But no, Clayborn puts his shoulder into Kafka (not his helmet), and the questionable roughing the passer penalty gives the Cats new life at their 37.   After getting the calls last week, it seemed that the zebras were making a concerted effort to even the score on the Hawkeyes Saturday.

Backup QB Persa is now in, he does not have a bad hamstring, and is a better runner to start with.  He leads the Cats to the Iowa 38, and then Kafka gets them 7 yards more.  But on this 3rd down, Binns slices through the line and puts the hit on Kafka, and the Wildcats are forced to punt from our 39; Sash fair catches it at the 10.

Can we make it 3 scores in a row?  It seems like it.  Paki is in now; he nets 4 yards on two carries.  3rd and 6, Ricky finds DJK over the middle for 16 yards, Hawkeye 1st down at the 30.  O’Meara for 2 more, then a screen to Wegher nets 14, and we are in business with a 1st down at the 46.  But from here, Stanzi overthrows McNutt on another deep pattern, Brandon gains 6, then Ricky overshoots DJK again, and the Hawks have to punt.

The Iowa coverage team downs it at the 11, and two Persa runs for 4 yards end the 1st quarter with the Hawkeye 10 - Zip lead, and Northwestern facing another 3rd down on the other side of the timeout.

They only get 5 on that 3rd and 6 pass, and must punt again.  Sash has it at the Iowa 38.  Feeling good, but as were soon to learn, that feeling would go bad in a hurry.

On that 1st down, Ricky drops back and has DJK open down the middle.  But as Stanzi steps up, the pressure is right in his face, so he cannot get everything on the throw.  It’s under thrown this time, and the Wildcats pick it, and take it back to the Hawkeye 47. 

Northwestern gains one 1st down, but then are stalled at the Hawkeye 37, and that punt is downed at our 6.  Wegher for zip on 1st, and then the play that would change the season for the Hawkeyes.

At the snap, the Hawkeyes just chip Northwestern’s All Big Ten end Wootton, and as Ricky rolls to his right, he runs right into him.  The 1st hit knocks the ball out – it would turn out that as Stanzi is brought down, Wootton has a big fist of facemask – no matter, all the officials are watching Northwestern fall on the ball.  Ricky is twisted into the ground, and even before he hit the turf, you could tell that is was bad.  He is down for a couple minutes, and then gingerly walks off after the time out.  That’s good, but we would not see him again until midway through the 3rd, in a ‘boot’, and walking with crutches. 

Well, one of the things I had hoped for before the season started was enough comfortable wins that by this point, our backup QBs could have had some meaningful snaps.  It did not work out that way, and so Vandenberg took the field, having tossed 3 passes, but none since the Iowa State game.

DJK brings that kick out to the 35, and then Wegher gains 1, and then 9 yards, for an Iowa 1st down at the 45.  KOK calls a pass, you might think the 1st one would be a screen…a dump off to Wegher…a quick slant…anything to get him some confidence.  Nope, it’s a deep in route, and James locks onto the wideout, not noticing the Wildcat linebacker right in the middle of line.  He throws it, and this one is now picked, and brought back to the Iowa 46.  Hawkeyes everywhere are stunned into silence – but there is a long way to go.  Iowa defense, get it back for us.

They can’t.  The 10 play, 46-yard drive is 41 yards rushing, and 5 yards passing, and still the Hawks can’t snuff it out.  The Cats pick up a 3rd and 4 with a 9-yard Persa run (from our 29), and then a 3rd and 5, from our 15, with a 7-yard run by tailback Simmons.  Persa runs it to our 4, and then the Iowa defense is fooled when the running quarterback drops back to pass – his receiver is pretty wide open considering the Hawkeye secondary had so little ground to cover.  Touchdown Cats, Hawks are now tailing 14-10, with our field general somewhere in the Iowa lockeroom.

But, the Hawks seem able to respond.  James now fires a strike to DJK for 8, we face a 2nd and 2 from our 36.  Wegher gets it, surges through the line, breaks one tackle, and is now behind the defense!  He is gone!  Or not.  Those of us that were paying close attention are not jumping and screaming, we saw the yellow fly when Brandon was about 10 yards downfield.  It’s a hold, on Eubanks, and it is complete bullshit.  Rafael’s hands were inside the defender the entire time; he pushes and not pulls him to the ground, and that is called a pancake block.  Nope, the officials again make it clear that it’s payback for Indiana, and the Hawks soon face a 3rd and 12 from our 26.

KOK concedes, and the pass is dumped off to Morse, who gains 3 yards.  In this one instance, the zebras give us one back – Brett kind of ducked his head when he knew he was going to be hit, so he kind of bumped helmets with the defender.  It was a ‘high hit’ as the referee said – I have been watching football for many years and I am not sure what that was.  15 yards, Hawks get the free 1st down at the 44.

Our optimism was short lived.  James, sacked on 1st down, 2nd and 18 from the 36, he hands it off to Wegher, who gains back 6 yards up the middle.  As he is going down, the ball comes out, and the Wildcats fall on it.  In full speed it looked like he was down – after a dozen frame-by-frame watches on my dvr, I am convinced his left knee was on the ground a fraction before the ball begins the move.  But it’s not taken upstairs for the more thorough review, and it’s another Hawkeye turnover. 

Northwestern gains one 1st down, but then from our 29, the running quarterback gets greedy.  His pass to the end zone is both overthrown and into double coverage, back up safety Conklin has his 1st career interception. 

Hawks don’t try anything, just Wegher runs, but the Cats use their timeout to get the ball back.  Donahue says ’sorry’ and punts it from the Iowa 27 into the other end zone.  73 yards, touchback, all Northwestern can do is fall on it to end the half.

Halftime, no word yet on Ricky, though after seeing the replay a few more times, I knew he was not coming back in.  Some peeps around me are grumbling about McNutt – I remind them Marvin has been a wideout full time since the spring.  They question Vandenberg’s credentials; his 7701 yards and 93 touchdowns top all Iowa high school quarterbacks, regardless of class, ever (James was in 3A, at Keokuk).  He is the future, it has just arrived a bit sooner than we thought it would. 

The 3rd quarter has now arrived; I figure it’s about time for the Iowa defense to make that play that will turn the tide.

We don’t get the 3 and out we were hoping for, but after the Cats get out to our 46, Clayborn drills Persa on the 3rd and 10, and we have forced the 10 and out. Iowa ball at our 28 after the punt. 

Now we begin to see the cannon that young James has for an arm.  He fires a strike to Stross for 8 on 1st down, Wegher cleans it up with 4 more, 1st down at the 40.  Now he drops it into McNutt’s hands, 17 more to the Cat 43.  Brandon is tripped up after 2 yards, James then finds DJK for 12 more, and here we are at the Northwestern 29, 1st down Hawkeyes, the bar is alive again.

Vandenberg has DJK again, but he can’t hold onto it while going down at the 8.  The 2nd down pass fails, and the Hawkeyes call timeout to plan the 3rd and 10 attack.  After the break, James fires for McNutt at the goal line, but it’s just overthrown, so Murray comes into attempt the 46 yarder.  All right, we are back within one, time for the defense to take over.

Except that Murray has hooked the left-hash kick, and it curves enough as it crosses the goal line to just miss when it gets back to the upright.  Wide left, Hawks still trail 14-10, the bar and Hawkeye Nation are stunned and disappointed.  To me, this play would loom very large in the outcome – had young Vandenberg lead his first career scoring drive, it could have done much for him on the subsequent Hawkeye possessions. 

It looks like the Hawkeye defense is about to force a 3 and out, but on the 3rd and 7, the running QB passes for 11, and a 1st down.  The Cats would get out to their 45 before facing another 3rd down, this time for 8 yards.

Here begins a rather odd 3-play stretch.  First, the Cats false start, 3rd and 13.  They are so busy shifting before the snap they don’t notice the play clock hit zero, delay of game, 3rd and 18.  On that play they are called for a crackback penalty, it’s now 3rd and 33.  They just run it for 5, and the Hawks have flipped the field possession without doing anything – our ball at the 39 after the punt.

But James is pressured on the 1st down drop back, he seems to have some space, but is taken down after 2 yards.  We try a real end around to Davis this time, thought it does not work, no gain.  On the 3rd down, DJK is open, but the pass is low, and we have to punt.

Cats now at their 18.  They face a 3rd and 1, and the Hawks know the sneak is coming, but can’t stop it.   Hawks soon force another 3rd and 5, but the 3rd quarter ends with Kafka completing a 14-yard pass for a 1st down at our 41.

Two plays later, another 3rd and 1, another sneak the defense lines up to stop, but cant.  They would finally stop the Cats at our 30, the 47 yard field goal is good, and we are now down 17-10.  Still, just one score, one play, we just need someone to step up and make it.

Clock now at 13:29.  James hits DJK on the quick slant, 6 yards gained on 1st down.  Brandon runs for 3, and then 4 yards, 1st down Iowa at the 32.  But then Wegher is stuffed for nothing on 1st down, and on the 3rd and 10, Vandenberg is flushed out, and smartly throws it away, to live and fight another day.  Or drive.

Still waiting for Sash, Angerer, someone to make that critical play.  Cats get out to their 47, and seem to have sneaked, once again, one a 4th and 1, but the bench has called timeout right before the snap, and they decide to punt it back to us with 7:51 left.

All right – ball at our 17 after the punt.  Brandon for 4, then the 2nd down pass is bounced to DJK.  After a timeout, James aims for DJK again, and he makes another routine diving snag for 8 and a 1st down on our 29.  2nd and 10, why not look for Derrell again, 13 more yards out to our 42.  Wegher gains 2, the 2nd down pass is incomplete to Moeaki (where has he been?).  James now fires it deep and has DJK open at the Wildcat 20, but it’s overthrown, and the Hawks are forced to punt.  We need a 3 and out, or better yet, a turnover.

Two yards on 1st down, then the Hawks have tailback Concannon dead to rights at the line, be breaks two tackles to gain 8 yards, and a critical 1st down.  But the Iowa defense would draw the line there, and the Cats are forced to punt it back with 2:10 left.

Here sits an opportunity for the legend of Vandenberg to get an early start.  1st down, he tries for Stross, it’s tipped and nearly picked off, but falls to the turf.  2nd down, pressure, he steps up and runs for it, gaining 8.  3rd and 2, he tries to hit McNutt on the quick slant, but Marvin is held up well beyond the 5 yards, and the officials swallow their whistles, no good, 4th down.  James goes back to Stross, he snags it for 7, and the Hawks are still alive.

1st down, James overshoots McNutt on the sideline.  2nd and 10, he fires for Moeaki down the middle – his jersey is CLEARLY GRABBED and held by the linebacker, it slows Tony down on his break, yet once again, the officials are either not looking, or just want to screw us, incomplete.  3rd down, he tries for DJK, but Northwestern is doubling him, tipped, incomplete.  4th down, the pressure is there, Vandenberg steps up and tries to hit McNutt on the crossing route, but misfires.  76 seconds left, the Wildcats just have to fall on it twice, game over.

As to be expected, the Iowa defense did all they had to do.  10 points allowed, and that one td was from 46 yards out.  Sure, the Cats 50% 3rd down completion rate was a bit hard to swallow, but they only gained 239 total yards on us.  And if the Hawks had been anywhere near our 32:00+ minute time of possession average, I think they would have been able to knock a good 50 yards off of that.  But with the offensive struggles, we only had it for 25:40, and those 7 minutes loomed large in the outcome.

Our young QB is going to be better with a whole week as the #1 in practice.  There is a big difference preparing to be the starter, compared to knowing you are going to hold the clipboard and send in signals all day, then find yourself thrust in there mid game.  Yeah, you would probably like your 1st start to be at home against a lightweight.  Then again, when you are a competitor – maybe not.

Week 11: Ohio State

Our BCS title dream was nice, though not likely, and there was nothing we could do about it ourselves, besides go 12-0.  That is gone, but we still have so much to play for.  11-1 would get us to the Rose Bowl, and if we could win these last two games, that Big Ten title can still be ours outright.

That’s right, this game is a mini playoff – winner goes to Pasadena, regardless of what happens in week 12.  Sudden death, if you like.

Oh sure, going to the Horseshoe is not much fun, it’s been since 1991 that we emerged victorious from it.  But this is 2009, it’s one game in the here and now, and this Iowa team has shown that they are not fazed by big crowds, deficits, or much else. 

This sets up to be a classic war of attrition.  NCAA ranks for total defense, they are 6, and we are 14.  Pass defense, Buckeyes 11, Hawkeyes 16.  They are one behind our Big Ten lead in turnovers gained.  They trail our #4 rank in pass efficiency defense by 2.  Points could be hard to come by.

Now that the two-year hiatus is over, we get our first look at the pre-season All Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Terrelle Pryor.  If we faced the mother of all spread offenses in Michigan, this should be a close 2nd, but the Vest has been under fire for not using him properly, and at times this year, Pryor has looked downright awful.

Namely in the 26-18 loss to Purdue, where the Buckeye QB lost two fumbles and threw two picks.  The Boilermakers rank for total defense, #67.

Still, he is very dangerous if not contained.  In fact, like last week, the Buckeye QB leads the team in rushing, at 60 yards per game.  Much of his damage comes when he is scrambling and the defensive coverage downfield breaks down, allowing him to just chuck the ball up there for long gains.  But when he is contained in the pocket, he is not that good – in fact the Buckeyes passing offense is 10th in the Big Ten, and 98th nationally, at just over 183 yards a game.  

So this will be the 1st priority of the game – the front 7 must keep Pryor in the pocket.  He does not take getting hit all that well – Clayborn, let him start thinking about that from the 1st snap.  Beyond them, the secondary has got to stay with the Buckeye wideouts, especially important when the QB is on the move, and they cannot leave those wideouts to try and stop him until they know he has crossed the line of scrimmage.  This is our bend don’t break defense – it has worked well all year, there is no reason to think it can’t work well this week. 

Between Pryor and the tailbacks, the Buckeyes average about 190 rushing yards a game.  This will be the 2nd key – shutting this down.  The more Pryor has the ball in his hands, the better it is for us.

It goes without saying, but I will type it anyway.  When our secondary gets their hands on the ball – they must catch it.  We have to snag every turnover opportunity – besides the obvious benefit of possessing the pigskin, those plays shut up large stadiums in a hurry.

When we have the ball, the offense must be ready for a very speedy Buckeye defense.  They only give up 85 yards a game on the ground, which is good for #3 in the NCAA.  Still, we are going to have to get some of the ground game going, and we are getting some good news from Iowa City that could make that a little bit easier.

It seems that Adam Robinson has healed faster than hoped – he has been working out, and might even make it to practice this week.  Cleary having our top two tailbacks would be nice – when the yards are tough to come by, a fresh back can make a difference. 

Naturally, the Iowa offensive line has got to have their best game of the season.  Besides the running lanes, they must give James some time to make his reads.  With an attacking defense, there will be gaps downfield, and he has got to find them when the opportunity presents itself.  Though it will also be on KOK to call the right game.  If the Buckeye pass rush is clicking, we need slants, dumps offs to Wegher in space, screen passes, quick hitters to the tight ends over the middle to slow that rush down.  Vandenberg did show good poise last Saturday, and when the play breaks down, he has got to take off, or throw the ball away if caught behind the line.  Young, you bet, but the kid has thrown a lot of passes in his life, he should be able to manage the game somewhat effectively if the line does their job.

Should we move that pigskin to the Buckeye 30, we must score points.  There can be no wasted opportunities, no missed field goals, and no dropped easy passes in the red zone. 

As is often the case in games like this, the special teams could be the difference.  Last week, senior wideout Ray Small had two 40+ yard punt returns that lead to Buckeye tds in their 24-7 win over Penn State.  Donahue must punt it deep, pin him in the corner, and the Iowa gunners have got to be there when he catches the ball.  We cannot allow the momentum gained by a big play on a punt return.  On the flip side, we saw some life from Sash on the called back return last week; let’s hope he can find some space to make something happen on Saturday.  A big play for us can also quickly take the Buckeye crowd out of it. 

Can the Hawkeyes keep this game close enough to steal it in the 4th?  You bet we can, if the defense can play up to their potential.  The Buckeyes are coming off of a big road win, and the showdown in Ann Arbor looms next Saturday.  Even with the Rose Bowl on the line, it’s not out of the question the Buckeyes could come out flat.  

Meanwhile, after one loss where our QB missed more than half the game, Vegas has given up on us and installed the Buckeyes as 2 touchdowns – plus – favorites.  That’s all good and fine, let the Iowa boys focus all week on the lack of respect.  It’s week 11 and we are playing for a Rose Bowl bid.  We did not get here by accident.

There is late work from Iowa City that besides Adam, Greenwood and Sandeman are also expected back Saturday.  We are missing our quarterback, but otherwise, all of our weapons should be ready to fire at the opening bell.

All right my friends – the road was supposed to be our Achilles’ Heel in 2009, but in fact it has been where our strongest games have occurred.  No reason to think that will change.  Yes, we are relying a lot on some young players, and that is going to pay big dividends in the seasons ahead.  But all that matters now is finishing this one.  It won’t be easy – but the best wins never are.  The Hawks will be ready.  We will see if the Buckeyes are ready when we smack them in the mouth.

3:30 kickoff, I trust that means you will all be there for ‘Back in Black’, and not slowly rolling in during the 1st quarter this week!  Not long now – and we will see if the 2009 Hawkeyes are ready to come home as champions.



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