September 25, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 4

Iowa’s Record:  2-1, 0-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #18 (482 votes)
USA Today: #18 (463 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 Loss 34-27
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 25th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes v. Ball State Cardinals 1-2, 0-0 MAC
Prior Games: 1, Iowa leads 1-0
Last Game: 2005 – Ball State 0, Iowa 56

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +3
Big Ten #5, NCAA #23

Current Line: Iowa -28

Scoring Defense 16.0, Pass Def 197.3, Rush Def 68.7, Interceptions 4, Total Defense 266.0
Big Ten                 #4                       #5                          #1                          #4 tie                      #2
NCAA                   #24                     #59                        #9                         #22 tie                     #18

Scoring Offense 33.0, Pass Offense 246.0, Rush Offense 161.0, Total Offense 407.0
Big Ten                #5                            #4                                 #8                                #7
NCAA                  #39                          #36                               #56                              #50
 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: Arizona

Well my friends try as I might, I can’t recall a somewhat recent game where we experienced such depths of despair, and then sheer elation, only then to be tossed back down into a pit of misery and agony.  Maybe there was one, and I have successfully blocked it from my memory, as I hope to soon do with this debacle.

But as you might expect, I would look for some kind of positivity, and have found it.  The first, of course, is that this team took the body blows that would have been fatal to many visiting teams; got up, took a few more shots, then found our footing, and began slugging back.  Notice served to Big Ten opponents – once again, no 4th quarter lead is safe.

As you saw, the reason we were able to mount that comeback was the 2nd half play by the Iowa defense.  By my count, they basically held the Wildcat offense to 13 points – all the rest of them came from our special teams and offensive mistakes.  So while we did give up over 300 passing yards, and yes, the game winning drive was way to easy, the Iowa defense did its job, as we can expect them to do every week.

If the game itself wasn’t bad enough, it was compounded by both inexplicable decision-making by ESPN, and their downright terrible production quality during the game.  Remember how this was the one and only Div.1 game between ranked teams?  You would think maybe they could have moved the start of the game to ESPN News or ESPN Deportes?  No, it’s on ESPN3.  Which you can’t watch if you are in a bar, or you can’t watch if your have Time Warner as your internet provider, among others.  (Personal gripe).

Then again, certain Hawkeye fans might have begun spontaneous combustion had they actually been able to see the first 5 minutes.  Getting those score updates via mobile phone was bad enough, seeing it was downright brutal.

Normally I agree with the ball-first strategy that Kirk employs, though I had kind of been thinking that this game might have started best with the defense on the field.  It didn’t, the Hawkeyes took the ball, and the Arizona kickoff sailed into the end zone for a touchback.

The stadium was rocking, and the Cats had the boxed stacked, but KOK had Adam run right into the line twice, failing to gain a yard on either carry.  So began a dismal day for ARob.  On the 3rd down, Ricky does have McNutt open down the far sideline; the deep pass is just overthrown, and falls incomplete.  Hawks line up for the punt, and I wonder just how far Donahue can boot this pigskin through that thin, desert air

Oh, about 3 feet.  Hard to tell from the replays, but I can discern the snap was low, that might have been the critical split second that was the difference – the block came from the middle, right where Ryan was booting it.  The ball bounced around for a few seconds, and then fell to the Cats, who had the ball at the Iowa 8 when it was over.  Punting was not supposed to be our weak special teams link (and was in fact ok the rest of the game).  If we only knew then how the kicking side would reclaim it’s status as the wobbly segment in the moments ahead.

So now the Iowa defense accepts the challenge from the special teams, and the Cats give us a delay of game on 1st down to assist.  Foles tries a semi-fade into the end zone, but the pass is just barely overthrown.  Now on 2nd down he completes a pass to the 5, bringing up the 3rd and goal.  This pass was right over the middle, and it sure looked like Sash had it covered, but the ball slipped through and the Hawks were trailing 7-0.  I think some people were miffed that the Iowa defense hadn’t been able to force a field goal there.  With the extreme hoopla in the stands, and the huge shift in early momentum, I can’t find fault with the defense allowing a TD from 8 yards out.

Fine, they scored first, now what are we going to do about it?  Well, we still can’t see it on TV, but the play updates were coming through via mobile, and it looked promising.

Hawks start with the ball at the 20 after a touchback.  Stanzi takes to the air and finds Reisner alone down the seam; it’s good for 25 yards and a Hawkeye 1st down.  Jewel is in now, but is stopped for no gain, and then a pass to DJK is no good, bringing up a 3rd and 10.  Somehow the Cats lose DJK this time, and Ricky hits him for 16 and another 1st down.  Now Jewel finds a crack, and explodes through it for 17 yards to the Wildcat 21.  5 plays, here we are at the red zone, tie game coming up.

On this 1st down, Ricky takes the quick drop back, and fires it to McNutt, who is running a quick slant from the left of the formation.  The ball hits him in the hands – but then pops up into the air, and there is no one around but two Arizona defensive backs.  It’s grabbed by the same guy who had the pick-6 on Ricky last year – but this one was not Stanzi’s fault.  He gives chase, but can’t get the angle covered, and it goes all the way back, 85 yards, for a touchdown.  Hawks trail 14-0, and Iowa fans everywhere are stunned.

We get the ball at the 20 again, and the drive moves as far as midfield, but stalls.  This drive is noted for the first of the ESPN errors, as there was a run by ARob where the ball came out (he was down), it was reviewed by the officials, but we never saw a replay on tv.  This is just the 1st time this would happen.  We had finally gotten past the all-too typical questions and answers from the previous post game, and the coverage had come on during this drive. 

Just in time to see Donahue punt the ball to the 12, where there was a fair catch – but Hyde runs into the guy, so that’s a 15-yard penalty.  The Hawkeye defense soon forces a 3rd down and 3, and if they can get the stop, we should have the ball in good shape.  But Foles goes up over the top, and here is Hyde again, a step slow, and the pass is caught for 46 yards to the Hawkeye 15. 

Now Grigsby gets the handoff and finds room over the right side.  It looks like he is going to be close, but Tarpinian swoops in and knocks the ball to the turf, where Hunter falls on it – disaster averted.

All right, ball at the 7, we already have a few 90+ yard td drives this season, let’s announce that we are not going away by adding another one.  Jewel for 3 yards on 1st down, then 4 more on 2nd.  Seems that KOK must have seen something, because we suddenly go deep-pass crazy.  The first one is to McNutt, on this 3rd down.  It’s fired down the near sideline, and Marvin leaps up to grab it, going through the Wildcat cornerback who is committing pass interference on the play.  No matter, it’s caught, that’s good for 37 yards to the Hawkeye 48.  Ricky drops back, and fires deep for Davis, but overshoots him.  Once again, Stanzi drops back, and heaves it for DJK, also down the near sideline, he is nowhere to be seen as the ball falls to the turf, it’s because he was grabbed on the route, that’s pass interference again, now we are on the Arizona 38.  This time Ricky hits Marvin for 11 underneath, and then somehow fires a strike (through good double coverage) to DJK for a 1st down at the Wildcat 5.  Jewel is stuffed on this 1st down, and the 1st quarter comes to a close with the annoying symmetry of another 14-0 score – this time, on the wrong side of it.

But here we are, ready to change that.  Ricky tries to hit DJK over the middle – that’s triple coverage, good to see it sail high and safely out of bounds.  We face the 3rd and goal from the 4, and the Wildcats do us a favor by calling time out

Ricky drops back, and seems to hold it a bit too long, but then Jewel flashes open on the underneath dump down, and Stanzi finds him for the 4 yard touchdown.  9 plays, 93 yards, 3:50 off the clock.  14-7 now, here we come Cats, Iowa defense bout to bring the heat.

Sadly, this time, the Iowa kick team pushed the challenge a bit too far.  Meyer boots it to the goal line, and as they brings it out, we seem to have the middle of the field (where the returner is heading) well spaced and secured.  There are at least 3 missed tackles that I could count, all between the 20 and 35 yard lines.  After that, the far sideline is gained, and it’s up to Meyer to get there and shut off the angle.  He can’t, and it goes for 100 yards and a 21-7 Arizona lead.  The shot of Kirk on the sideline tells the story – something is amiss, because he didn’t prepare his football team to execute like this.

Both teams now trade 3 and outs, and the Hawks get the ball back at our own 44 in the exchange.  Ricky hits Davis for 12 yards on 1st down.  Now Stanzi drops back, has time, and spots DJK streaking down the near sideline behind the defense.  The ball arrives right where it should, at about the 3-yard line – but DJK is just a bit slow to it, and it falls to the ground off his outstretched hands.  Opportunity missed.

3 play later we are punting, and Ryan dutifully bounces the ball at the 6 yard line – we have 2 guys there to down it – but they somehow lose track of the ball, and it bounces twice more and into the end zone for a touchback.  Special teams botch, those are about 15 of those hidden yards that we have just given to Arizona.

We now see the more classic bend don’t break Iowa defense as the Cats execute a 11 play drive all the way to our 4, but the Hawkeye defense will yield no further, and the Cats kick a field goal for a 24-7 lead.  But we were left to wonder, could they done that if starting at their 5-yard line?

Our next drive, at 5:42 of the 2nd, starts out well.  Sandeman snags a pass for 13 yards over the middle.  Now Ricky scrambles for 17 more.  Colin again, 12 yards, now at the Cat 38.  Now Ricky fires for DJK in the end zone – double coverage again, and Stanzi is lucky that the safety drops a rather easy pick.  Now Adam for 2 yards, and the 3rd down pass to McNutt is again off his hands, and looks scary for a brief moment, but then falls to the ground.  Donahue can’t land this one in the field; it overflies the entire end zone for another touchback.

The Cats now rather easily move to our 29, but the drive ends when Prater nearly picks off a 3rd down pass.  No problem for the next generation of the Zendejas family, he boots the 47-yard field goal through, and Hawks trail 27-7. 

Davis returns the squib kick to the 42, but Ricky is not able to get off the Hail Mary, so the half ends with his 7 yard run.  Mercifully.

So, knowing our penchant for 2nd half miracles, I immediately update my Facebook status with ‘We can win 28-27.’ 

The general consensus of the halftime discussion group was that a: that’s as about as bad as the Hawks can play, and b: those things tend to iron out, so if we count on the defense to make it tough, maybe some breaks will come our way.  If anything, we have held the ball for 18:36 in the 1st half – the Arizona defense might be gassed as the game moves on.

The Hawks kick off to open the 3rd, and this kick sails safely into the end zone for a touchback.  The Cats mange one 1st down, but the Hawks stuff them from there; Sandeman returns the punt to the 35-yard line (20 yards).

Hawks call timeout before the 1st snap of the 2nd half.  Ricky looks upset, perhaps safe to assume KOK got the play in late.  Ricky runs a bootleg, but the pass is underthrown.  On 2nd down, Stanzi gets sacked, loss of 7 yards.  Sandeman now catches one to get 7 back, but it’s 4th down, and Ryan boots it 60 yards, tackle made at Arizona 13.

The Cats start with a 4-yard run, but then on 2nd down, Foles fires it deep down the left sideline – Hyde is there with perfect coverage this time, and the pass is broken up.  But no, he is called for pass interference, a complete BS call, and even the likes of Bob Davie up the booth can’t believe it.  But the Hawkeyes kill the drive at the Arizona 40, and the resulting punt is a bad one, bouncing outside the Iowa 30, back toward the middle of the field, where it rolls out at the 37.  After the play, a Cat takes a cheap shot somewhere (ESPN never shows it to us), so they tack a 15-yard personal foul; here we are at the Wildcat 48.

Adam runs it for just a yard, then Ricky hits DJK for 11 on the dangerous out pattern – but no risk this time, Stanzi fired it in there with flames shooting out the back.  1st down Hawkeyes, and the play action gives Ricky the time to survey the field – when he finds DJK again, this time on the post route, with the secondary tailing behind.  Ricky heaves it up top, and it’s caught at the 5, with DJK stretching out his arms to break the plane, not needed as he carries it in.  Boom!  27-14, 2nd half magic alive and well.

The kickoff is a touchback, but the Cats rather quickly get the ball to the Iowa 38.  But on 1st down, they false start.  On that 1st and 15, Tarpinian runs a stunt route, while Daniels is throwing aside the lineman blocking him – the result is a sack and 12 yard loss.  Now the Cats try some kind of read/option run, and the Hawks blow it up for a 4-yard loss.  3rd and 31, back to the Arizona 41, the dump off goes for 12 yards, and the Cats are punting once again, Iowa ball at our 27.

Well, the drive that starts now certainly looked like it had potential, this was the one with the two pass interference calls, the 2nd one being where McNutt had his helmet ripped off.  But at the very start of the drive, Jewel had carried the ball for 4 yards.  It looked like maybe his knee got banged into on the tackle – he is slow to get up, and needs help to get off the field.  The news came from Kirk today (Tuesday) – it’s a knee injury (not the same one), surgery is needed, and Hampton is now out for the season.  As bad as it seems for Hawkeye football, I can’t imagine the feelings going through the head of that young man right now.  Hard to say what his future will hold, if he is up for it, I hope to see him take the field in the Black and Gold again.

This drive eventually dies, and Arizona returns the punt to the 30, but block in the back while doing so, so ball at the 23.  They complete two quick passes for 7 and then 5 yards, and then run for 1 more.  On this 2nd and 8, Tarpinian is in there once again, and drills Foles for a 10-yard sack.  But, Clayborn flies in at the last second, and is called for hitting Foles up high, that’s a personal foul, 15 yards.  Now they run for 2 yards, but as the play ends, the Cats give us a personal foul right back, so it’s 2nd and 27.  They run a wide-receiver screen, but the corner is turned because of a block in the back, 2nd and 33 from the Zona 19.  Two passes get 14 yards back, and the punt sails out of bounds at the Hawkeye 33.

Clock now at 10:11; time to make our move.  Ricky tries to hit McNutt, but this one is tipped again, and almost intercepted.  Now on 2nd down, Ricky is sacked, and he feels the heat again on 3rd down, but escapes, though his pass is knocked down.  3 and out, Donahue in again, we need stops, time is a wasting.

Ryan’s punt sails 53 yards, and the return man isn’t set long when the ball arrives – it bounces off his chest, and right into the arms of Prater, who cradles it as he crashes into the return man and lays on the ground with the ball firmly in his grasp.  The Cats emerge with the ball in the ensuing pile up, but the play is reviewed, and Shaun was down by contact as soon as he hit the turf with the ball.  It took long enough, but it has happened – there is the break we are looking for, Iowa ball at the Wildcat 18.

Ricky wastes no time, and fires a floater down toward the far pylon, where Marvin can use his height advantage in the jump ball – he leaps, snags it, and comes down – hard to tell at first if in bounds or not.  The play is ruled incomplete, and a flag is there on the field, and it’s pass interference on Arizona.  The play does go to review, so it’s either an Iowa touchdown, or a penalty on the Cats.  It takes a few minutes – and this time we do get the replays from ESPN, sure enough, it looks like the moment the ball settles into his hands, his right foot is in bounds.  The referee returns from the hooded monitor, and viola – Iowa touchdown!  27-21, here we come! 

Arizona brings the kickoff out of the end zone, but we make the tackle at the 20, clock is at 8:12.  Shots of Wildcat fans in the stands show scenes of dread and fear.  Good reason.  1st down, a 2 yard pass, Hawks swam for the tackle.  Now Foles drops back again, but some of the Iowa lineman trick him, and don’t rush forward, but actually step back into coverage.  He fails to see this and fires a quick out pattern, but there is Binns, the big guy has no trouble reaching out and intercepting the pass, and the FIELD IS CLEAR AS HE RUNS IT TO THE 15-10-5 TOUCHDOWN IOWA!  A pick 6 of our own!  By a defensive lineman!  27 all, lead coming as soon as we kick the extra point!  Chaos at Opal and every other Hawkeye bar around the nation, among the 12,000 Hawkeye fans in the stadium, and looks of absolute shock on the Arizona sideline. Hawks line up for the extra point, and ESPN zooms back for the shot from the other end zone.

And they are so quick to bring in the graphic that covers up the edges of the shot, so we cant even see how high the ball gets, or where it lands.  As they go to commercial the booth guys say ‘no good’, but at that point, or even after the break, we never do see a replay of what happened.  Seems the kick was too low, and the guys just jumping behind the line got a finger on it.  I still don’t know how close it came to going through, if it ever did.

So the score now sits at 27 all as we kick off, and it’s returned to the 28.  Based on what happened next, I think that extra point was one of the most devastating mistakes of the day.  If you know Arizona’s recent football history, they have suffered several late and agonizing losses over the years, and many of their fans were considering this the biggest out-of-conference home game for them in something like 20 years.  So if we had indeed grabbed the lead there, I think the mental hurdle for the Cats could have been substantial – and any doubt or hesitation in the players would be feasted on by the Iowa defense.  But because the score was tied, they came out, seemed relaxed, and had no trouble summing up the courage to attack down the field.

It starts with an over the top pass right down the middle, to yes ESPN we know, Foles roommate, and he just barely gets behind Sash and Greenwood to dive for the ball.  Caught, a 37-yard pass.  Now a pass for 5 yards, and then another for 14 yards, and the Cats are already at the Iowa 15.  Now they tried a pitch to Grigsby, but he can’t get the corner, and is drilled for a 6-yard loss.  2nd and 16 from the 21, this pass goes for 15 to our 6.  Hawks were just a step slow everywhere on this drive.  Timeout Arizona, with the 3rd and 1.  Now they hand it go Grigsby, he gets the 2 yard carry, 1st and goal at our 4.

The Hawkeye defense stops the 1st down run for nothing, and the 2nd down pass is knocked down in the end zone.  On 3rd down, the D-line isn’t able to get enough pressure, Foles is able to step up, and fires the quick strike for the td and 34-27 lead.

No problem, the clock at 3:57, and DJK has just carried the kickoff out to the Iowa 37.  Plenty of time, two timeouts left, if Arizona is thinking we are just going to pass it down the field, we can do underneath stuff, draws, etc, time is on our side.

1st down, Ricky confidently drills one to DJK, caught, 7 yards to our 44.  Now it’s 2nd and 3, and Stanzi drops back from center, but hesitates, and is smothered for a 9-yard sack.  Timeout Iowa, and at the return, we face the 3rd and 12 from our 35.  But in the noise of the stadium, the Iowa line moves, and that’s a false start, now 3rd and 17.

You know what happens next.  Ricky drops back again, looks too long, sacked.  Now 4th and 25, he again drops back, but the blitz is coming, and the line can’t contain it, nowhere to go, Ricky goes down, and with it our hopes for the comeback, and the continuation of dreams beyond the Rose Bowl.

Guess it is only fitting in a game like this that the breakdowns should show up where it’s not expected they should.  Ok, if we are going to come out on that drive and attack down the field, how bout having Ricky in the shotgun?  He was under center for all four snaps. 
Once the 2nd down sack happened, why still trying to throw downfield?  We knew they were going to come at us with everything they had – had about a blitz killing screen pass.  How about a 3-step drop into a quick slant to McNutt?  Throw the ball 7 yards and let him run with it.  The corners were playing off of the wideouts – obviously hedging against long passes.  How bout a quick out pass to DJK, let him get the ball in space to see what he can do?  Nope, we ran the entire series like it was just another drive in the 2nd quarter somewhere.  That’s not on Ricky, or the O line for their failure to block – it’s the play calling. 

On top of this mess, the injury news also includes Bruce Davis, the linebacker, it’s a knee for him as well, and looks likely out for the season.  Paki would have moved into the #2 tailback spot, but he had a mild concussion in the game, so he is likely out.  Iowa Football 2010 is summoning the spirits of Iowa Football 2004.  Those parallels keep popping up.  Let’s hope it can end the same way.

The stats for this one were about as ugly as the execution.  We only managed 30 net yards of rushing (sacks come out of that number, there were 6 of them).  Adam, 10 carries for 5 yards.  I don’t know if something was amiss with him, he didn’t seem to attack the hole with the usual vigor that his displays, though he was often being hit in the backfield, so that could be part of it.  Jewel was doing better, averaging 4.4 per touch, I think having the threat of his speed on the final series would have made a difference.  Ricky, 18 for 33 for 278 and 3 tds.  The one interception was not his fault this time.

The Iowa defense only allowed 63 net rushing yards; when they are able to do that, we usually see them clamp down on the passing better than they did this week.  But once again, the 14 points they didn’t actually give up loom large in the outcome; they did what they had to do to give us a win.

There is good news, and that’s of course that we have Ball State coming in this week, not to dismiss the Cardinals, but there is a reason we are -28.  I think the coaching staff will have the attention of everyone this week, as there are improvements that can be made by every unit.  And I wouldn’t want to be a special teams player, I think they are in for some very intense workouts, meetings, and film sessions. 

This Week: Ball State

The Hawks will look a wee bit different as they take the field Saturday – it’s another Throwback game, this time saluting the late 50s Hawkeyes of Forest Evashevski.

The Cardinals are off to a 1-2 start, winning in week 1 against S.E Missouri State, then falling in week 2 to Liberty, and then giving Purdue a bit of a fight before falling last week 24-13.

They have been using a dual QB set up so far, Wenning being more pure passer, with Page being a more run pass combo guy.  When combined, they only average 128 passing yards a game, which is #90th in the Div.1 rankings to date.  They do run the ball a bit better, at nearly 180 a game, which gets them up to #44th.  Two tailbacks, Williams and Skyes, both average over 5.0 yards a carry, so we can see from here what the attack strategy shall be.

That is, take away the running game, which is something we should be able to do, and then focus on the already below average passing attack. 

Oh, and then there is this – the Cardinals average 31.9 yards per kickoff return – good enough for #6 nationally.  As noted above – intense special teams practice this week.  For comparison, we are at 24.8 yards, ranked #4 in the Big Ten, and #29 overall. 

Then there is the backup tailback question when we have the ball.  It is looking like two current-redshirt freshmen could get the call-up, #44 Marcus Coker, and #30, De’Andre Johnson.  Neither was going to figure in our plans when fall camp started, so we’ll see how they look if they get the chance.  But as long as Adam is ok, and playing well, he will most likely be a 20+ carry type of #1 back the rest of the way.

(As of Thursday, it now appears that Coker will be the backup).

Let’s not forget that the loss to the Wildcats was about our lack of execution – you don’t expect to have an extra point blocked, you don’t expect a pass that hits Marvin in the hands to pop up into the air, you don’t expect DJK to drop a ball just feet from the end zone.  So we didn’t lose that game because they were better than us, and the way we were able to rally sent out word that no matter how we might look in one possession or quarter, the Iowa Hawkeyes are going to fight for 60 minutes.  And it only takes one big play or mistake by the opposition to get us going in the right direction.

But for the next two weeks, we should not have to rely on our amazing ability to come back.  We must be front-runners against Ball State, and put that game away by the 3rd quarter, so we can get in more backups in the 4th.  Then the Lions come to town, with a true freshman quarterback, and a running game that is struggling to find any success.  Oh, and we open the Big Ten season at home, which is a worthy note all in itself.  So we shall be 4-1, 1-0 heading into our bye week, rested and ready for the tough three game slate in October.  Remember, the Hawkeyes under Kirk get stronger as the season changes and the conference slate appears.  The Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth, and yes – rematch with Arizona, are still right there to be had.  One tune up game this Saturday, and then the road to Pasadena starts in Kinnick come October.



Dave Sedgwick           
Vice President
New York Metro Iowa Club
Class of ‘95

No comments:

Post a Comment