September 4, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 1

Iowa’s Record:  0-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #9 (1007 votes)
USA Today: #10 (952 votes)

2010 Iowa Football Schedule (times Eastern)

9/04/10 Eastern Illinois 12:01 PM, Big Ten Network
9/11/10 Iowa State 3:36 PM, ABC
9/18/10 @ Arizona 10:36 PM, ESPN
9/25/10 Ball State TBD
10/02/10 Penn State (Homecoming) 8:05 PM, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
10/09/10 Bye Week
10/16/10 @ Michigan 3:36 PM ABC
10/23/10 Wisconsin TBD
10/30/10 Michigan State TBD
11/06/10 @ Indiana TBD
11/13/10 @ Northwestern TBD
11/20/10 Ohio State TBD
11/27/10 @ Minnesota TBD

September 4th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes v. #16/#18 Eastern Illinois Panthers 0-0, 0-0 Ohio Valley Conference
Prior Games: First Meeting
Last Game:

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin:

Current Line: (no line for 1/AA games)

Scoring Defense 15.38, Pass Def 152.92, Rush Def 123.6, Interceptions 21, Total Defense 276.5
Big Ten                 #3                       #1                          #5                             #2                     #3
NCAA                   #8                       #4                          #34                           #5 tie                #10

Scoring Offense 23.2, Pass Offense 222.9, Rush Offense 114.2, Total Offense 336.3
Big Ten                #10                            #6                                 #10                                #10
NCAA                  #86                           #55                                #99                                #89
(09 Final Stats)

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!

2010 Season Outlook


Hello once again to my Hawkeye friends here in New York, and all around the country!  Welcome back to the weekly game notes, now starting season 5, and what a season this is lining up to be.  Yes, I am once again driving the bandwagon with one hand, and mixing up the Kool-Aid with the other.  Grab a cup and hop on, because 2010 could be a Hawkeye Football season that we will long remember.

It’s not just me this summer; the national (paid) media is on fully on board, having us a contender for the Big Ten title, proclaiming some of our units the best in the nation, and bowing down at the alter of Kirk Ferentz.  This is fine and good, as we are starting out in the top 10 in the polls, we should be there in the national conversation all year long, provided we execute on the field. 

Should we be concerned that the players are buying into the hype?  Well, from what we have seen from the various player interviews on the preview shows and websites, they seem to be doing well at avoiding the magazines and general hoopla.  We have not won a Big Ten title since 2004.  This is the last regular season Big Ten title (without a title game) that can be won – ever.  And we surely would want to break the Buckeye’s current 5 straight titles streak.  Then there is the little matter of what lies beyond the conference, and just where we could end up in the BCS rankings should we run the table.  So, there is a lot more out there beyond what we achieved in 2009 – no player should have any trouble remembering that. 

And let’s face it; if ever the stars were going to align for a run at the national title, this would be the season.  Look at the schedule above – yes, there are a few pitfalls if we don’t focus, but also remember we had a very good shot to win every game last year, had our quarterback not gone down.

Yes, the sleepy time game in Tempe is a concern, the Wildcats gave us decent test last season, and are expected to challenge for a Pac 10 title this year.  At the Big House is never fun, and you would think the Wolverines would be better, but then you consider all the distractions and player defections there (it was they who reported the initial training violations).  They open with UConn and then the Irish –they could start 0-2, so the wheels could fall off in Ann Arbor before October rolls around. Our fundamentals, our game plans, and our playmakers should be difference, on the road and at home. 

We did have some critical losses to graduation, and the long hot summer has picked off a few more kids as well.  But we have many skilled and experienced players who are back, so it’s not unreasonable to think that the team is going to be better, in all phases, in 2010.

Let’s start with the offense, because in Norm We Trust, and the defense will keep us in every game as they did last year.

Biggest worry during the offseason has been the rebuilt offensive line.  3 new starters, and some would point out that the line never quite lived up to what we expected last season.  Well, we have learned some things as the fall camp has progressed, chief among them that this new line is progressing very well.  Maybe that should not be a surprise, this is still Kirk’s favorite position to coach, and this line is up against a very good defensive line every day in practice.  That makes you better.  Expect there to a little bit of shuffling over the next couple weeks, particularly on the right side and center, where the new starters are playing.  Here is how they are going to line up, according to the first 2 deep, which you have learned by now could change 5 times before we actually kick off.

Left to right:
Riley Reiff - Julian Vandervelde – James Ferentz – Adam Gettis – Markus Zusevics
                                                        Or Josh Koeppel

How well have these guys played?  Well, the Big Ten Network guys said they were doing fine against the Iowa D-Line – and there is no D-line we are going to face as good as that one.  Some growing pains are expected, but the fears that everyone had seem to be exaggerated.

You are of course aware by now that Brandon Wegher left camp after a few days, and has not returned to the team.  By now it appears that if he does return, it will be next year after redshirting this season.  The good news is that Jewel Hampton seems to be all the way back from his knee injury, he showed great vision and explosion through the hole when it opened up (during the Iowa practice filmed by the BTN crew.)  Adam Robinson returns, and for game 1, Paki is backing him up, as Jewel ran into a bit of alcohol trouble this summer, so he sits out.  That means Hampton gets to take out 13 months of frustration on Iowa State.  Good luck Cyclones. 

And then, there is the passing attack, which if protected, could be the most lethal that we have had in quite a long time.

Stanzi returns for his senior season with an 18-4 record to date.  Ever since spring ball, I can’t recall a single time that either KF or KOK spoke where they did not mention that Ricky has been a slave to the film room the entire offseason.  This is good, as most of those interceptions were poor decisions, ones that can be corrected by tossing the ball out of bounds, pulling it down and running, or checking it down to a tailback.  I tend to think that the more you play, the better you get.  So I think his game management will show improvement over last season. 

It would be in his best interest to live for another down, because he has a near-embarrassment of riches to toss the pigskin to.  DJK will break the Iowa all-time marks for catches and yards in this, his final season.  Sandeman is also on that side, and it’s his last go round, so look for a good year from him.  On the other side, McNutt has now had a 2nd full spring-summer period as a wideout, so he will be even better than he was last year.  Backing him up is Keenan Davis, now a sophomore, who showed us enough last year to think that he could explode onto the scene this season.   At tight end, Alan Reisner has progressed some each and every season, and can expect to find lots of open space in the middle of the field if our wideouts are causing stress on the outside.  Junior Brad Herman backs him up, and then there is the next of our wunderkind tight ends, freshman C.J. Fiedorowicz.  At 6-7 250, he is the next All-American, I’m just not sure when he will get on the field, but once he does, he may never leave it.  As is the case with all freshmen that might have raw skills, it’s fitting into the offense (read: blocking) that must be mastered before playing time is granted.  Then again, you would think a tight end would already have that down.  He will be on the field soon. (Late news, KF says he will play in week 1).

Last, there is our fullback, leading the way for the running backs to claim the glory, throwing his body in front of defensive ends and blitzing linebackers running at him at full speed to protect the QB.  Senior Brett Morse, #36.  Last year, 5 rushes, and 8 catches.  Come on KOK, let’s see if we can double those this season.

When it’s all added up, can we really think the offense can improve from 10th best in the Big Ten in 2009 to something like top 3 in 2010?  All the skill positions have players returning, and if the O-line can play like we hope, that should be enough to get the running game going, which will open up the passing game.  It will kind of a shock to start fast and not have to rally in the 4th quarter, but if we are a team that has designs on greatness, that’s the way we have to do it.

Queue up the angels singing music; time to talk about the Iowa Defense.

Here 8 starters return, and in the 3 spots where they don’t, we seem to have the right players to fill those holes, so the Hawkeye defense should not only match last year, but be better.

This is a good time to point out that any improvements in the Iowa offense, i.e. 3rd down percentages, will be beneficial to the overall dominance of the defense.

The aforementioned defensive line.  Clayborn, Klug, Ballard, Daniels (Binns, 1 game suspension). Multiple media outlets have anointed this the best defensive line in the country.  It could happen.  Other teams are going to be so focused on slowing down Clayborn that it’s going to leave gaps for everyone else to slip through.  Not that doubling Adrian does much good, he has seemed like a man possessed in the limited practice video we have seen.  He came back to win a Big Ten title, and I don’t see anyone being able to stop him.  We are going to see a lot of sacks this season.

 Iowa’s 4-3 defense funnels the running game into the linebackers, who rack up tackle after tackle.  We have been a sort of linebacker U – West over the past several seasons, and I think that trend will continue with Tyler Nielson and Jeff Tarpinian joining returning starter Jeremiha Hunter.  The biggest question that I have is how these new guys will fit into the pass coverage, but Tyler has lettered twice, and Jeff three times, so they have enough on field experience to know how to play Norm’s defense.  Really, I’m just wondering how long it will take for all 7 guys behind the line to get an interception this year (as all 7 did last season). 

We return both safeties in senior Greenwood and junior Sash.  Both missed spring ball due to surgeries, are now back at 100%, but there is very little experience behind them, so keeping them healthy will be key.  Of note, Tyler’s quest to claim the Iowa all time interception lead – he is at 11 now, chasing the mark of 18 held by Devon Mitchell, and yup, Nile Kinnick.  Was there anything he could not do on the gridiron?

As far as the corners go, Prater is dinged up and may miss the first two games, so it’s a combo of Castillo and Lowe on the left side, and Hyde and Bernstine on the right.  Hyde, in particular, is getting a lot of love on the Iowa boards, seems like he may the next Spievey popping up already.  I fully expect this group to once again challenge for the NCAA interception lead.

Assuming the defense will give us a shot to win every game, how can we tell if there is improvement over the 2009 season?  Well, getting the rushing against average back under 100 yards would be nice.  Perhaps 25 interceptions.  Last, let’s see the scoring average under 14.  If the defense can produce these kinds of numbers, the offense should be able to come out on top all season long.

And then we have our special teams.  As always, the teams at the top of the heap excel in this area, and that has been the case with the Hawkeyes in our most successful seasons of late.  But it appears to be a mixed bag heading into the 2010 season.  The punting is fine, Donahue is now a senior, and will surely throw a 75 yard punt in there about every 3rd game.  He will continue to drop punts inside not the 20 but the 10 yard line, and our recent trend of excellent punt coverage should continue to down the ball there, forcing teams to move it 90+ yards against our defense, which most won’t be able to do.  I look forward to seeing Ryan punting with the big boys in 2011.

We probably would have thought that the kicking part of this equation should have been settled by this point.  Last season, when Murray got a leg up in camp, Mossbrucker redshirted, so the thinking was that as a senior, (Murray), would be the clear favorite this season.  Nope, once again, it has been going back and forth.  Oh, and in Tuesday’s press conference, Kirk said that a true freshman, Michael Meyer, is going to do the kickoffs.  Guess the kid has a strong leg, but he is not in the mix for the scoring kicks – yet.  Clearly, if we are going to contend for Big Ten titles and more, we need a kicking game that we can rely on.  Someone has got to emerge as the clear number 1 before the Big Ten season kicks off.

When it comes to returning kickoffs, we have DJK and Davis back there.  Based on what we saw from DJK last season, there is hope that this could be a game changer in some tough games.  Sandeman and McNutt will handle punt returns.  I like the idea of Marvin fielding kicks with some open space in front of him.  Might we have some punt return magic in 2010?

There is that one other area that the Hawks have so often excelled in, the Hidden Yardage.  This considers things like penalty yards, and because of our fundamentals and coaching, we should not give up many.  Also, yards returned from kicks and punts – we already know that there will not be many punts returned against us, and we shall see about the young guns who provide the kickoff coverage.  Often, it’s these added up yards that can make the difference in a game – maybe it means kicking the winning field goal from the 20-yard line and not the 40.  It seems insignificant on the surface, but it could be the difference in games like Arizona, or in the looming battles with the Badgers and Buckeyes.

We seem to be mostly full strength heading into the season, so aside from a few nicked up guys and the players under one game suspensions, we should be ready to aim all of our firepower on everyone we line up against.  We have the players, we have the coaches, the schedule is about as easy as it can get – dare we to dream that 2010 will be a season to remember?  I think Kirk will be able to keep the players focused on the goals, and we can’t get to those goals by looking past anyone game on the schedule.

This Week: Eastern Illinois

Once again, opening the season the season against an FCS program, and I think the scare we got in week 1 last year means that Hawkeyes will not be focusing on the Iowa State game on Saturday. 

The Panthers are off an 8-4 season that saw them advance to the FCS playoffs, where they fell in round 1 to Southern Illinois 48-7.  But the loss turned to tragedy, after leaving the game to return home, their offensive coordinator was killed in a crash in which his car hit a deer.  So this game should be rather emotional for them, at the start, but once the bodies start colliding, it will just be a football game against a bigger, stronger, and better team.

We did have one common opponent in 2009, at Penn State, where the Panthers fell 52-3.

And you might also remember, their starting quarterback last year was – Jake Christensen.

But his time is up, so they are going with a junior college transfer QB, Brandon Large.  His first Division 1 start, on the road, in front of 70,000 screaming fans, and one of the best defenses in the country.  Have fun.

If that wasn’t hard enough, his top returning tailback is out with a knee injury, and his back up has all of 6 career carries, and that was way back in 2007 (he spent time on defense and at receiver the past two seasons, but didn’t do much).

Late word, they may now start a sophomore at tailback, who has 222 rushing yards to date.  Though it also appears that two starting O-linemen may be out, so I’m not exactly confidant that the Panther offense is going to be able to run the ball, and if we know you have to pass the ball, you are playing right into our zone defense, 2-high trap. 

You may have also heard that as many as 20 EIU players failed drug tests this summer (and you thought our boys misbehaved), and the coach really isn’t saying anything about it, so it’s not exactly clear who is going to take the field on Saturday. 

What does matter to Hawkeye fans is seeing how the new starters acclimate themselves to the speed of a game, how we look on extra points (please, no field goals against an FCS team), and how Stanzi manages the game.  Yes, he will have the opportunity to take his shots down the field – especially if Adam is chewing up large yardage on the ground.  Be smart Ricky, save the high risk/reward plays for the games where they will count the most.

Well my friends, the long HOT summer wait is nearly over.  There is actually a bye this year, (and going forward) we don’t have a 12-week non-stop stretch: so the college football season does not have to completely take over your life.  That is, unless you want it to.  Me, I can’t wait!

In other news, if you wish to scout the Cyclone game, here in the NYC area you can find it on MSG+, around the country the game is on about 9 different Fox Sports and Comcast Sportsnet channels, just check your guide – 8:00 pm eastern on Thursday.

And last, there is that little matter of the new Big Ten divisions, and now official 2011-2012 conference schedules.  Yes, I will have some things to say about it – all in good time.  All that we need worry about now is the 2010 season.  It starts in a little under 46 hours.  Are you ready?



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