September 18, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 3

Iowa’s Record:  2-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #9 (1037votes)
USA Today: #10 (1050 votes)

2010 Iowa Football Schedule (times Eastern)

9/04/10 Eastern Illinois WIN 37-7
9/11/10 Iowa State WIN 35-7
9/18/10 @ Arizona 10:36 PM, ESPN
9/25/10 Ball State 12:01 PM, BTN
10/02/10 Penn State (Homecoming) 8:12 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 18th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes @ #24/#18 Arizona Wildcats 2-0, 0-0 Pac 10
Prior Games: 12, series tied 6-6
Last Game: 2009 – Arizona 17, Iowa 27

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +1
Big Ten #6, NCAA #40

Current Line: Iowa -2

Scoring Defense 7.00, Pass Def 144.5, Rush Def 71.5, Interceptions 3, Total Defense 216.0
Big Ten                 #1                       #1                          #2                          #3 tie                      #1
NCAA                   #8                      #26                        #11                        #17 tie                     #9

Scoring Offense 36.0, Pass Offense 230.0, Rush Offense 227.0, Total Offense 457.0
Big Ten                #3                            #3                                 #6                                #3
NCAA                  #33                          #54                               #25                              #25
 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: Iowa State

Wow, it would sure be nice if we could end every 1st quarter with at least a 14-0 lead!  And while there was no doubt after that, it was great to see the Hawkeyes keep pushing, charging, causing chaos in the Cyclone backfield – right up to the point we put in our kids below the 2-deep – and ISU scored.

But that’s ok; we will just look to start a new scoreless streak with the 1st quarter next season.

It wasn’t just that we scored 5 touchdowns (again) with nary a field goal in sight – it was the way that we did it, with long, plodding drives, and lightening fast strikes down the field.  Certainly did open up the playbook a bit more this week – and I would assume KOK has a few more wrinkles to unleash on the road this Saturday. 

Consider, DJK returns the opening kick to the 31.  Hawks then execute a 13 play, 71-yard drive, culminated in the Stanzi to McNutt strike from 8 yards out, to lead 7-0 before the ISU offense had even sat up from the bench.  Highlights of this drive include Reisner faking a linebacker out of his jock strap for 9 yards, and Adam once again doing some of his Shonn Greene impressions, accounting for 22 of the 71 yards.  ARob, just getting warmed up.

Clones then thrown in the obligatory 3 and out, and the resulting punt is caught by Sandeman at our 29.

Hampton now enters the game for the first time since the 2008 season, and it receives a big hand from both the Kinnick crowd, and Hawk fans in front of TVs everywhere.  ISU knew what was coming, and they stuff him on 1st down for no gain.  Fine, we’ll pass the rock; here is one to DJK, 13 yards, 1st down.  Clones back off a bit, Jewel now for 8 yards, and then 1, Stanzi then sneaks for another Hawkeye 1st down.  After a timeout (looked like play didn’t get in on time), Stanzi hits DJK again for 9 more, Hampton cleans up the mess with 3 yards and another 1st.  Stanzi now tries to hit McNutt out into the flat – the coverage was there – good to see the ball hit the turf, incomplete.  Jewel again, 3 yards, and then 6 yards, and here is Stanzi sneaking again for another 1st.  Jewel now finds 6 yards over right tackle, and then 3 more, and the 1st quarter comes to an end with the Hawks just outside the ISU 10, ready to score once again.

First quarter time of possession – Iowa 13:34, ISU 1:26.

Second quarter opens with Jewel now, breaking tackles to the 7.  But, Hawks now false start, and move back to the 13.  Hampton now does his own Greene homage, and plows thru weak arm tackles to the 2.  One more handoff, and Jewel records his first score of the 2010 season, the Hawkeyes are up 14-0, and the ISU offense has had exactly 3 snaps.

Ok, so we were not actually up 14-0 at the end of the 1st – close enough.

Now comes the one rather large issue that popped up Saturday.  Kick coverage.

The kickoff lands at the 6, and the Iowa coverage team first appears to have it in check, but then they somehow let the seal break, and it’s the freshman kicker Meyer who saves a touchdown by breaking the stride of the runner, allowing the tacklers to catch up.  Out at the ISU 45.  Special teams throwing a challenge to the Hawkeye defense, it seems, seeing if they can keep the scoreboard clean from midfield. 

They can.  Another 3 and out, made certain by Klug, who drills Arnaud for an 8 yard sack, knocking the Clones back to their 38.  The resulting punt rolls out of bounds at the 25, and the ISU defense takes the field, probably thinking they are about to see more tailbacks rammed down their throat for another 7+ minute drive.

Nope.  Stanzi goes into the deep drop – resulting pass rush is so anemic, I think he has a donut and coffee back there – all the while McNutt, who has started on the left, is crossing the field, about 20 yards or so off the line.  The defender is not really that far behind him – but it’s enough for Ricky, he lays the ball in there perfectly.  Marvin stays steady as the Cyclone dives to stop him, and now he is streaking down the near sideline – 40-30-20 –but the safety has the angle, and McNutt is knocked out at the ISU 9. A 66-yard strike.  Adam is back on the field; he carries it twice to the 2, bringing up a 3rd and Goal. 

At the snap, Reisner is on the left of the Iowa line, he then starts toward the right, running behind the line, while Stanzi completely sells the pitch to Robinson going left for something like a sweep – the Cyclones, and TV camera guys, all fail to see Reisner emerge alone at the goal line, to the right – but Ricky doesn’t, and the 2 yard toss makes it 21-0 at the 10:02 point of the 2nd quarter.  This, the quick strike kind of drive – 4 plays, 75 yards, 2:01 off the clock.

Meyer, not wanting to be run over by kick return men, boots it into the end zone, touchback.

Iowa State now found a bit of offense with their 3rd possession, and they gain a couple first downs, as far as the 45.  But here on 3rd down, Binns tips the pass at the line, and the ISU receiver has to play defense to keep Nielsen from tip-drilling the interception.  Resulting punt sails out of bounds at the Hawkeye 32.

Guess we were not meant to score on every possession.  On 1st down, Ricky tries going over the top again, this time to DJK. And sure enough, he is behind the secondary, but seemed to ease up just for a moment, and the pass falls to the ground off his fingertips.  We fail to secure the 1st down, an Donahue punts it to the ISU 17 – fair catch, no return.

State throws in yet another 3 and out, this punt also heads out of bounds, this time at our 33.  Hawks come out throwing again, but the protection breaks down, and Ricky is hit for a 10-yard sack.  Ok, 2nd and 20, here is the typical draw play – but wait, Adam breaks some arm tackles at the line, and then runs through flailing Cyclone safeties, and he’s in the clear!  McNutt races in to provide escort, and they go flying toward the near pylon – 20-10-5!  Adam is hit at the 2, but falls forward, plain broken, touchdown Iowa!  76 yards! 

Not quite.  Reviewed, and determined that he was in fact down at the 1-yard line.

KOK has sneaking on the mind Saturday; Ricky tries it again, and gains about half a yard.  The Clones then stop Adam for a 2-yard loss – but toss in a personal foul as the play ends, so we get a fresh 1st down from the 1.  This time, the O-line fires off at the snap, and Ricky falls forward into the end zone, 28-0 Hawkeyes, clock at 2:19 left in the 2nd.

Once again a touchback, no return.

State now puts together a two-minute drive that gets them as far as our 37.  But then an offensive pass interference call derails the scoring threat, and a 4th down pass from our 41 falls to the turf.  One Hawkeye kneel down bring the 1st half to a close, making it 16 quarters, or 4 full games, since Iowa State has found the promised land.

My brother Jon, in the pink visitor locker room, is failing to respond to my text asking for his thoughts on the 1st half.

The halftime stats, just as good for us and bad for the Clones as the scoreboard:

Rushing: Hawks 160, Clones 30
Passing: Hawks 128, Clones 55
Total Yards: Hawks 288, Clones 85

And a very staggering number – yards per play: Hawks 6.9, Clones 3.1

This week, the general theme of the halftime discussions was the lack of a turnover forced by the Hawkeye defense through six quarters of play in 2010.  Knowing the Cyclones would have to throw the ball to try and mount a comeback, I was confidant that would not continue for long.

The 2nd half kickoff sails out of the end zone, and the Clones begin with a run that gains a yard.  The 2nd down pass falls incomplete, and on the 3rd and 9, Arnaud feels the heat and tries to throw it while running forward.  The pass doesn’t have much zip on it, and Prater undercuts the route: viola, turnover #1 as Shaun snags it, and is tackled at the ISU 43.

But the Hawks are not able to do anything from there, so they punt, and the ball hits the end zone, State again starts from the 20.

This drive moves the ball as far as the Hawkeye 20, the key play being a dump off to Robinson on a 3rd and 6 that gained 23 yards.  Two subsequent runs get the ball to the red zone door, and on 3rd down, Arnaud overshoots his receiver, and Greenwood races out of the end zone and dives forward – scooping up the pigskin before it could bounce off the turf.  Turnover, Hawks kill the threat, and now have the ball at our 3 yard line.

My guess, the Cyclone defense is probably thinking we are going to kill the 3rd quarter by plowing our way upfield with the running game.  Maybe, 1st down goes to ARob, and he gets 3 yards out of it.  On 2nd down, Stanzi drops back, has enough time to update his Facebook status on his cell, and when he looks up, Reisner  (a tight end, mind you) is behind the defense.  Ricky fires it downfield, it’s caught, and Allen is finally run down (he is a tight end) at the ISU 38.  A 54-yard completion, State’s defense now stunned.  They barely protest as the Hawks run a sweep left – Adam gets to the corner and turns it, and then flies down the far sideline, 20-10-5, and he dives in for the touchdown and 35-0 lead.  The Cyclone comeback is dead in the water; all that remains now is to see if they can find the end zone.

And once again, it seems like they are about to.  This kickoff lands at the 5, and again, the Hawkeye coverage team fails to contain.  The return goes 61 yards to our 34.  Special teams thinking Iowa defense hasn’t really been challenged yet, wanted to make things interesting.

But the Cyclones do us a favor and hold on 1st down, so now they move on back to the 44.  This pass, incomplete, but on 2nd down, we are called for a defensive hold, so the ball moves back up to the 34 for another 1st down.  1st down pass goes nowhere, but then their Robinson carries it for 16 yards to our 18, 1st down.  Arnuad fires into the end zone, but misses.  Now 2nd down, he completes a pass to the 10 – but only because his line tackled a couple of our defensive lineman, that’s holding, ball back to the 28.  3rd down gets about half of the yards back, bringing up a 4th and 12 from our 20.  Under pressure, Arnaud floats the ball down in the direction of the near pylon, but Nielsen reaches up and snags it with his fingertips.  That’s inception #3.  Arnaud probably thankful his time is up, and he won’t be facing the Hawkeye defense ever again.

This drive goes nowhere for the Hawks, its only worth mentioning because Donahue boots the punt from the edge of the end zone, and it lands at the ISU 28, where it’s caught, and returned to the 40.  That’s a ball going a bit over 70 yards in the air.  Awesome.

Hawk fans everywhere still waiting to see the Iowa offense break the 40 point plateau, and after the Clones take the above possession nowhere, we get the ball back at our 19.  Now Stanzi goes up top again, and finds DJK for 23 yards, to the 40.  Jewel gains 2, and then 7 yards, and the 3rd and 1 brings us to the end of the 3rd quarter.  35-0, and the Cyclone touchdown futility counter is now at 17 quarters – and counting.

Stats through 3 – still ugly for Iowa State;

Rushing Iowa 218, State 64
Passing Iowa 206, State 115 (3 picks)
Total Iowa 424, State 179
Yards Per Play Iowa 7.9, State 3.5

After the quarter break timeout, the Hawks line up for the 3rd and 1, and Ricky once again sneaks it for the 1st down.  Now we commit a false start, but Jewel gets all those back and 10 more, we are now at the ISU 38.  But we can go no further, and this punt once again hits the end zone, touchback.

This is at the 12:35 mark of the 4th quarter.  The teams then trade a couple possessions back and forth, these drives only really notable because the Hawkeye have put in the 2nd team on offense, and something like the 3rd team on defense.  We even put in our freshman punter, who gives the ball back to Iowa State, at the 29, with 3:37 to play.

There was a general buzz through the bar, and I suspect Kinnick and bars and homes around the country, saying that all we had to do was kill one more drive, and that would be it.  A shutout.  Well, our 3rd team defense was not quite up to the challenge, against what was still most of the Cyclone 1st team offense.  Arnaud rather quickly passes the ball down the field, 5 plays to get our 8-yard line, and quick wide receiver screen carries the ball the final 8.  Touchdown State, the streak is over, the camera shots of the ISU fans in Kinnick made it look like they had just taken the lead or something.  I guess when we have scored 10 touchdowns in our first two games the novelty is not quite as meaningful for us. 

So let’s review the final numbers.  The Hawkeyes carry the ball a combined 50 times for 275 yards, that’s 5.5 per haul.  Adam, 14 carries for a career high 156 yards, a mind boggling 11.1 per touch.  Jewel, 20 for 84 yards, 4.2 per touch, which is just fine for a kid making his first appearance since 2008.  No fumbles by anyone on the day.

Stanzi, just 11-18, for 204 total yards, and 2 tds.  He doesn’t have to push it when the running game is working, just needs to manage the game, and attack when the openings present themselves.  That he did, the Cyclones never really made a series threat to pick one off, and he protected the ball when pressured, always aware that maybe we could spring one on the next snap, if we just hang onto the ball.

So the most glaring and obvious issue going into the next game was our kickoff coverage.  Know this – if Kirk is not pleased with how things are looking in practice this week, the Arizona kick returners are going to find some Iowa defensive starters flying down the field at full speed.  This problem will be fixed by Saturday.

Other than that, there is really nothing to complain about from the ISU game.  The O-line is looking more solid each week, which is somewhat clear by the rushing totals.  The tailbacks are going to feed off the success of each other, push each other to perform each and every carry.  We got the wide receivers back into the game after largely missing them in week 1.  And the defense is who we thought they would be – our new linebackers are flying around, making stops left and right.  There are scant few plays where you can truly block all 4 defensive linemen, and with the return of Prater, our secondary is now complete.  We nearly put it all together against the Cyclones, with a few tweaks here and there; we should be ready to throw all these elements at the Wildcats, as we trek to the desert in week 3.

This Week: Arizona

So now we get a chance to learn if the fluid offense and stingy defense we have come to love travels.  There has been much hand wringing over this trip, with our history out west, the night game, the heat, etc. And our last trip to Arizona, the ASU debacle in 2004.  But this is 2010, and if Kirk has taught us anything over the years, it’s that he learns from mistakes, and doesn’t make them again.

That is to say, I’m not privy to what went on in the lead up to the Sun Devil game, I just know we came out flat, uninspired, and played like we forgot everything we knew.  I don’t see that happening with this senior lead team – and let’s not forget that 2004 team went on to win 7 Big Ten games and share the title.

So let’s talk about the various concerns, like the travel west.  Well, true, if you consider our Rose Bowl failings under Hayden, yes, some tough road trips out there.  But these Iowa players have not been a part of any west trips, so they don’t have any mental baggage to carry around.  As some of them have pointed out this week, it’s just the other direction of where we go for almost every game we play. 

Then, there is the night game.  I’ll remind you of our road night success in Happy Valley and East Lansing in 2009.  There is much ado about the 9:30 (central) start time – as if college age boys are all in bed at that time on a normal Saturday night.  Stanzi has in fact pointed out that he likes that better than kicking off games at 11:05 am – he is a college-aged boy, after all.  No, all that really matters is that the coaching staff shifts the usual game day schedule to account for the later start time.  They have done it before.

How bout the heat?  Well, I would like to see Arizona come up and run 2 a days in Iowa temps of 90 something with 80% humidity.  The Tucson forecast is calling for a low of 73 Saturday, granted that’s overnight, but with that dry desert air, I really don’t think the Hawks will notice it at all.

So, then it just comes down to – say it with me now – the players, coaching, fundamentals, and execution.

Which is where we have the clear advantage.  Remember, in Kinnick last year, their offense only managed one field goal against our 1st team defense – we gave them a pick 6, and a td on the 3rd team defense in the final minute.

In fact, we shut down their offense so much, that the next week, they benched the starting QB and inserted Nick Foles, now a junior, #8.  But he is a true drop back passer – not very mobile, and downfield routes take time to develop.  Time, not a luxury when facing the Iowa Defensive line.

The Wildcats will run a spread type passing attack, sometimes lining up a 4 wide formation, but also with a solid running game, behind senior tailback Grigsby, #5.  This combination has so far accounted for 46 points a game, while their defense is only giving up 4 per contest.

Of course, while it’s hard to learn a lot about teams from these early season games, that doesn’t stop me from trying.  The Wildcats traveled to Ohio in week 1 to face Toledo – a MAC team that went 5-7 in 2009.  Zona won, 41-2.  Then last week, The Citadel came to Tucson, and fell 52-6.  The Bulldogs were 4-7 in the Southern Conference in 2009.

Meanwhile, we played an FCS team that was good enough to make the playoffs in 09, and a Div. 1, Big 12 team, that was good enough to get to a bowl game, and win it.

So our level of competition was absolutely more solid, and that’s why this game kind of reminds me of the Penn State game in 2009.  There, the Lions had to replace a lot of starters, and they played cupcakes the first 3 weeks.  So then we rolled in – yeah, they scored in the first minute, but after that, we smacked them in the mouth and they went home like kittens.  This could be the same – as the Wildcats have 9 starters back on offense, they only have 4 on defense.   Our defense is good enough to trump their returning offense, and their defense hasn’t seen anything like our balanced, yet explosive, offense.  Advantage, Iowa.  Note also, the kitten reference is valid for this road game too.

It should play out like pretty much any Big Ten road game against the upper division teams.  We need to protect the ball, sustain drives to rest our defense and kill theirs, and once inside the red zone, stuff the ball home – no field goals. 

By now I’m sure you have heard that Norm Parker was not at the stadium last Saturday, he was in the hospital with some back issues that appear related to his diabetes.  Seems he is better now, but will not make the trip to Arizona.  I am somewhat sure that he has been watching the film regardless, devising the game plan, and passing it onto the other defensive coaches.  We are not going to be doing anything vastly different for Arizona – the players and coaches know what Norm wants, and how to do it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Iowa defense came up with an even more impressive performance than we have come to expect.  To a man, I’m sure they want to return to Iowa City with a 3-0 record for our ailing defensive coordinator.

There is lots of time to kill Saturday before the Hawkeyes kick off.  After last week, the slate of games this Saturday is downright boring – our game is in fact the only one matching up ranked Div.1 teams.  At 3:30 eastern you can watch the Gophers try to stay with the Trojans, and at the same time, ASU travels to Madison to take on the Badgers.  Then at 8:00, the Spartans get their shot at the Golden Domers.  Or, you could do things like yard work or cleaning your apartment all day.  I shall watch football.

The road slate begins Saturday night.  The optimism for this season rests mostly on these being games we can win.  The Hawkeyes will be focused.  It may be Arizona’s house – but it’s our game.



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