October 30, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 8

Iowa’s Record:  5-2, 2-1 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #18 (468 votes)
USA Today: #19 (401 votes)
BCS: #18

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 WIN 45-0
10/02/10 Penn State WIN 24-3
10/09/10 Bye Week
10/16/10 @ Michigan WIN 38-28
10/23/10 Wisconsin Loss 31-30
10/30/10 Michigan State 3:36 PM, ABC/ESPN (Regional)
11/06/10 @ Indiana TBD
11/13/10 @ Northwestern TBD
11/20/10 Ohio State TBD
11/27/10 @ Minnesota TBD

Coverage Maps for 10/30:

October 30th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes v. #5/#5/#5 BCS Michigan State Spartans 8-0, 4-0 Big Ten
Prior Games: 41, Iowa leads 21-18-2
Last Game: 2009: Iowa 15, Michigan State 13

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +9
Big Ten #2, NCAA #5

Current Line: Iowa -6.5

Scoring Defense 15.7, Pass Def 205.0, Rush Def 92.1, Interceptions 10, Total Defense 297.1
Big Ten                 #2                       #5                          #2                          #3 tie                           #2
NCAA                   #11                     #52                        #8                         #20 tie                          #13

Scoring Offense 33.7, Pass Offense 253.9, Rush Offense 159.1, Total Offense 413.0
Big Ten                #5                            #4                                 #7                                #7
NCAA                  #31                          #38                               #53                              #43
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: Wisconsin

Hello again my friends – I hope you are well on your way to recovery after another heartbreaking loss.  That was certainly a painful kick to the gut, one that could K.O. lesser teams, but in our case, one that I believe will regain our focus and kick start our run to finish out the season.

Another one of those Iowa games where just one mistake was the difference.  Sure, there were several, the most glaring by the special teams, but in fact every unit pitched in a critical error or two to get the result that we did.  This was not really a case of the Badgers beating us; we did it to ourselves.

Which, leads me to my expected optimism that we can not only rebound with a win Saturday, but we still have the Big Ten title very much in the picture (win out, we share it), and with a little help, a Rose Bowl berth is not out of the question (win out, Badgers lose again).

Hard to believe we could lose a game with no turnovers and Adam going over 100 yards, but we found away to do it.  Our 8th loss since the start of the 2008 season – with none of them being by more than 7 points.  Once again, so close.

Badgers want to shake things up a bit, so after they win the toss, they take the ball.  Things are looking good for the Hawkeyes after we stuff their return threat at the 14.  Defense takes the field; a statement to open the game seemed imminent.

It didn’t work out that way.  Badgers go on a 15 play, 70 yard drive that chews up 8:09 of the 1st quarter.  It started with an end around that we stop after just 2 yards, but then rushes by Clay gain 12, 2, and 4 yards, and we have forced Wisconsin in a 3rd and 4.  But Tolzien hits his tight end over the middle for 15, and the Badgers moved on.

Tolzien then dumps off the ball for 12 more, and the Badgers were now at the Hawkeye 40.  The backup tailback White is inserted, and he gains 3 yards on a handoff, and then 6 yards on a pitch to the left – one where we had him after just about 6 feet, but could not bring him down.  Another handoff gains the 1st down, and then Clay is put back into the lineup, he gains 7 for a 1st down, and then 3 yards to move the ball all the way to the Iowa 14.  Bend don’t break defense, now would be the time.

On this 2nd and 7 play, Clay and Tolzien bump into each other on the handoff, but the Hawks can’t capitalize on the screw up, and Clay gets to the far corner to pick up 6.  But then White was put back in, and on 3rd and 1, he tries to cut the ball outside right, but Sash has sealed the corner, and he surges into the backfield to take down the ball carrier for an 8 yard loss.  Badgers boot the 33-yard field goal through, and the score was 3-0.

All right, we have indeed found our footing at the right moment; let’s now see what we can do with the ball.  DJK takes the kick a yard deep, and brings it out to the 22.  Stanzi drops back and hits DJK for 8, then Adam runs for 1.  3rd and 1, at the snap Ricky turns quickly and hands it to Morse, Badgers not expecting the fullback, can’t stop it, and he takes it for 5 and a 1st down. 

Ricky backpedals again, and finds Marvin underneath on the near side for 6.  Adam for 2 yards, another 3rd down.  Hawks call his number again, and this time he finds room off tackle left – 9 yards, with a late flag – facemask!  15 more, here we are at the Badger 31.

Why not try the same play again?  This time the Badger corner seems ready to contain the breakout, but Morse flattens him as ARob finds the corner – and open space!  30 yards later he is finally knocked down at the Badger 1 – the play is reviewed to see if he had stepped out at about the 5, can’t tell, so it’s upheld.  Adam once more, stopped for no gain, but then he gets the ball again and this time he dives in for the Iowa touchdown and 7-3 lead.  Oh wait…scratch that, the Hawks don’t really block that playing making defensive end Watt, and he comes right up the middle to get his hand on the kick.  6-3 Hawks, the first of several critical mistakes that kept us from winning this game by double figures.

Hawks kick off the ball to the 8, but things get lose on the coverage team, and the ball gets all the way out to the 40.  On the play the Badgers tight end is hurt – he never returns, the first player to be knocked out of this Iowa - Wisconsin football game, but not the last.

The defense stuffs Clay for no gain on 1st down, Klug with the tackle.  But then a Tolzien pass in front of Prater’s cushion gains 9, and another Clay run pick up 2 yards, that’s a 1st down.  It looks like another run is on the way, but in fact it’s a play action pass, and this one settled down over the linebackers and in front of the safeties, 18 yards, and a Badger 1st down at the Iowa 30.  So ends the 1st quarter, and we have learned that possessions as going to be precious today, we must make the most of our chances.

After the break the Badgers come out throwing again, 9 yards on an underneath dump off.  White again, he gains 2 yards, 1st down Wisconsin.  Clay back, but Ballard drills him for a 2-yard loss.  Badgers try a quick slip screen to White, but the Hawks sniff that out and drop it for no gain.  On that play, White is shook up, and has to step off the field.  3rd and 12, here we are, once again ready to snuff out the touchdown threat.

Well, at the snap, the Hawkeye D-line surges up the field, but it’s a shovel pass that goes right up the middle – the 3rd string tailback Ball has it, and he goes 14 yards for a 1st down at the Iowa 7.  From here, another play action pass sucks in the Iowa defense, and before they realize what’s happening, the pass is sailing high over their heads to the wide open fullback – touchdown Wisconsin, Hawks trail 10-6.

Hawks can’t answer this one; we start at out 10 after a roughing call on the kickoff, and Ricky finds Morse underneath for 12 yards and 1st down.  Ricky tries going over the top to DJK but the pass is overshot, no good.  Adam runs for 2 yards, the Hawks then face the 3rd and 8.  Ricky has the time and he finds Chaney in open space 15 yards down the field, but the pass is a bit high – Jr. gets his hands on it, but can’t come down with the ball after making the leap.  4th down, Hawks punt, Badger fair catch at the 26.

Tolzien has all day on his 1st down drop back – he finds a receiver coming back to the ball on the far side, it should go for 10, but it’s dropped.  Now Clay runs for 4 yards, and the 3rd and 6 emerges.  Kinnick is rocking as Tolzien drops back to pass – he fails to get the ball out quick, and pays for it, as Clayborn comes wide around the near side – he can’t get to the QB proper, but he can get to the ball – and he knocks it out and it goes flying backwards.  Sadly, no Hawkeyes were around, so the Badgers fall on it for a 14-yard loss.  4th down, the punter takes the field, and he sails it 54 yards to Colin, who can’t do anything with it, Iowa ball at the 28.

This would be a critical series, mistakes by the offense first, and then special teams.  That these occurred where they did, a disaster.

The drive starts with a handoff to Adam – he seems to be dead to rights at the left side of the line, but a spin leaves the Badger defender grasping air, and ARob hauls it 11 yards for a Hawkeye 1st down.  Ricky then hits Herman on the near side, but he gets drilled after making the catch and it comes out, ruled incomplete.  Adam, 8 yards, and then once more, 8 more yards, 1st down Hawkeyes.  Badgers then bite when Reisner steps back to go in motion, that’s offsides, 5 yards.  Ricky tries McNutt over the top on the near sideline, but the ball is out of bounds.  Stanzi drops back again, and this time he finds DJK on a crossing route, and this pass is good, and it goes for 21 yards, and we were smack dab on the 20 and ready to score.

Adam gets the ball and goes for 2.  Now Ricky drops back, and fires it quickly left to DJK on a stop route, that’s good for 7+, it’s measured, and the Hawks face a 3rd and inches from the Badger 10.  Has anyone stopped our QB sneak all year?  Nope, any second now, 1st and goal from about the Badger 9, on our way to the lead.

Well, here the offense throws in some of their absolutely killer mistakes.  As we line up for the play, the entire left side jumps, and that’s a false start, 3rd and 6.  Ok, Ricky rolls out right and finds DJK underneath for a 1st down at the 5 – but wait, the flag files again, and this time it’s McNutt, who seemed to be taking a step forward at the snap, that’s illegal motion, 5 yards, 3rd and 11.  Stanzi can’t find anything deep, so he dumps it to Marvin who picks 7 with the catch – he might have had room to break it, but he slips while making his cut, and goes down there.  4th and 4 from the Badger 13, the Hawks line up for the field goal to bring the game within one point.

It was not to be.  The snap was indeed high, and that threw off the timing just enough – Ryan got the ball down, but was not able to spin the laces around – I guess he figured the odds were better with a run at that point, so he pulled the ball back as Meyer’s leg sails through the place where the ball had been.  Donahue gets up, but of course we are not blocking for any kind of fake, and he goes nowhere.  Turnover Iowa, I would say that we didn’t just lose 3 points, we lost 7 – the way we were moving the ball, the Badger defense was not going to stop us if we had not screwed up the 3rd and inches. 

Badgers have the ball at the 17, and they start with another end around, it goes for 12 yards, but should have been stopped well before that – I count 3 missed tackles.  Clay now runs to the right for 5, but the hankie flies and we see why he found that space, holding Badgers.  1st and 20 from our 19, Tolzien drops back and fires, but Klug gets his hands up and the pass falls to the turf.  The Badgers try a mini roll out right into a screen pass, but we have defenders all over the play, and Tolzien just tosses the ball into the ground.  3rd and 20, the Badgers try another shovel pass to Ball, but Clayborn has learned his lesson and not sprinted upfield – as soon as the ball arrives in Ball’s hand, Adrian drills him, and the pass only goes for 6 feet.  Punting time – this one lands at the Iowa 38, and Colin finds room right up the middle, 13 yards, Iowa ball at the Badger 49.

All right, ball at midfield, this is one we must take advantage of.

We start with our own end around to Chaney – it’s only goes for a yard, but the flag flies again, and that’s another facemask on the Badgers.  Adam now for 1 yard, but then on 2nd down Ricky drops back – the pressure soon comes and he steps up into the front of the pocket and fires a strike to Sandeman, 14 yards, 1st down Iowa at the Wisconsin 20.

Ricky floats a pass to Reisner on a short out pattern, but it’s a misfire, Alan dives for it but can’t come up with it.  Another pass to DJK is out of bounds; Ricky is just a bit off on several passes so far.  Ok, he drops back again and has lots of time, he finally finds McNutt coming back to the ball, that’s good for 16 yards to the Badger 4.  A pass to the right is thrown away, and the Hawks call timeout before 2nd down.  This play goes to Adam, he gets about 1+, so the Hawks face 3rd and goal from the Badger 3.

At the snap, Reisner is in motion, moving from the right of the line to the left.  DJK is outside left and Davis is in the slot – they both take inside routes, as Alan fakes like he is blocking and then heads outside.  The play is designed to legally pick any defenders off of Alan, but in fact the Badgers didn’t have anyone defending him once he broke outside – and he is all alone as Ricky flips the pass his way – touchdown Iowa, blocking in place this time, extra point good – 13-10 Hawkeyes. 

Hawks squib kick the ball and the Badgers have 16 seconds left as they take the field.  Considering we knew they would be throwing, Tolzien has too much time to survey the field, the pass goes for 15 yards, right to midfield.  From here, you would think they would try a hail mary, but no, they bring out their kicker for a 67-yard field goal.   That would have equaled the NCAA record (without using a tee, as they used to do).  As expected, the ball fell well short, and that brings an end to the 1st half. 

We have the lead; though it should be have been more, we have the unusual benefit of ball-first in the 2nd half, from there, we should be good to go.

The halftime stats are very evident of the game we have been seeing.  We are leading the rushing count, 76 yards to 48.  Passing is close, 94 yards for us and 99 for them.  In the critical time of possession, the gap has narrowed some; Hawks have had the ball for 13:03 and Badgers 16:57.

The 2nd half kickoff sails into the end zone, so we begin with the ball at the 20.  Stanzi drops back and hits Reisner, but it only goes for 3 yards.  Adam now, he carries it for 4, bringing up a 3rd and 3.  Ricky goes back to pass, and has time, but he can’t find anyone downfield, so he dumps it to Morse, who can’t quite make the turn upfield, and he is brought down just short of the 30.  But, the side judge comes in and marks the ball right on the 30 for a Hawkeye 1st down.  If the Hawks can get off the snap, it will be over, we move on, but they fail to realize the urgency of the situation, and leisurely make their way to the line, where the officials soon blow the whistle, the play is being reviewed. 

Well they get it right; the ball is about half a yard short, 4th down Hawkeyes.  In that play, the senior Morse should have realized what had happened with the mark, and gone back to the huddle and told Stanzi to just call a run and get to the line and do it.  But we didn’t get it done on the field, and the coaches were not on board either.  So instead of trying a sneak on the 4th and inches, we punt, and Donahue boots it 71 yards, where it bounces at the 10 and rolls into the end zone for the touchback.

The Badgers start with a Clay run, it goes for just 2.  Tolzien then fires a pass to Clay that gains 9 and a 1st down.  Ball is back in, and he goes for 2 yards.  At this point, the Badgers decide to drop back and pass – 5 plays in a row, the last one has a Prater personal foul tacked on, and the Badgers were at the Iowa 11.   From here, Wisconsin calls timeout.

After the break, the Badgers hand the ball off to Clay – it goes for 6 yards, mainly because one of the Badgers has cut-blocked Clayborn from behind, low.  That’s a cheap shot but no zebras catch it.  Clay then gets 2 and then 1 yard, and the Badgers faced a 4th and 1 from the Iowa 2.  We know what was coming, but we couldn’t stop it, Clay once more, and he steps in for the Wisconsin touchdown and 17-13 lead.  Clock at 6:30 of the 3rd.

Ok, challenge accepted, DJK returns the kickoff to the 32.  Adam gets stuffed for no gain on 1st down, and then Ricky under throws a wide-open Davis on the far side, so the Hawks face 3rd and 10.  Ricky drops back again, and this time finds Sandeman over the middle, it’s good for 11, 1st down Iowa.

Ricky then hits ARob on a dump off for 3, and then Adam gets it the normal way and carries it for 3 more.  3rd and 4, Ricky is in the deep drop and finds McNutt on the near sideline, underneath the deep coverage.  It’s caught, 7 yards, 1st down Iowa at the Badger 45.

DJK is in his usual spot split out left, and on the snap, Ricky set well back behind the line.  DJK has sprinted downfield, and acted like he was going to go to the post route – but he doesn’t – he cuts it back upfield, and the Badger defender can’t make the corresponding move, and nearly goes down.  It’s enough, DJK is in the clear, and Stanzi fires it downfield – perhaps a tad long, but DJK finds another gear, and it settles into his hands as he cross the goal line.  Touchdown Iowa!  45 yards, score 20-17 Hawkeyes.  All right, let’s get a stop, and make this a two-possession game! 

Nope, another terrible mistake was looming, and it was once again the special teams that were in the spotlight.

Our first kickoff sails to the goal line, and the coverage team does a great job, and they knock the Badger out of bounds at the 18.  No, way back up the field, there is a flag, and the Hawks are called for offsides on the kickoff.   Is this penalty ever called on anyone but the Hawkeyes?  I ask because if you use your dvrs to stop the play at the moment of impact, I estimate that oh, 10 to 20% of all kickoffs – college and NFL – someone has actually stepped across the line before the ball leaves the tee.  It’s just never called – well, except at critical moments when the Hawkeyes are playing.  And of course, the 1st time it happened, it really didn’t, as you may recall.

So, our kick coverage team was faced with a very dangerous situation – having to run down the field and do it again.  This kick, from 5 yards back, lands and the 10 – and sure enough, there are gaps in our coverage, and the Badgers take it all the way out to the 50 – and it would have been more had Meyer not been there to make the stop. 

What followed, was hard to watch.  Clay gets the ball, and the Hawk hit him at about 5 yards, and have multiple guys on him at about 9 yards, but he carries the pile forward (with help from his linemen) another 6 for a 15 total yard run.  Clay once more, he just gets 2 up the middle.  But then Tolzien finds an underneath route that gets the near corner turned, and the receiver is knocked out of bounds at the Iowa 3.  Clay again, right up the middle, and mostly untouched, it’s a touchdown Wisconsin, Badges lead 24-20, the clock at 1:01 of the 3rd.

Can we respond?  The Badger kickoff files into the end zone for a touchback.  Adam gets the ball on 1st down and gains 2 yards, but once again the flag flies.  Hawks are called for an illegal formation penalty, that one seems to pop up every game these days, you would think the players would know how to line up.  1st and 15 now, Ricky rolls out right, and fires a shot to DJK that he leaps to snag, and comes down with one foot in and one foot out.  It has gone for 12 yards, and is reviewed, and again they can’t really tell, so the call stands.  And with that catch, DJK has matched Kevin Kasper for the most catches in Iowa history.

Back to the 2nd and 3, Stanzi hits Reisner over the middle for 9, and a 1st down.  That play brings and end to the 3rd quarter.  Back and forth, it’s looking like whoever has the ball last could be the winner.

Stanzi comes out firing after the break, he goes up top to DJK down the near sideline – as the ball gets close, the Badger cornerback shoves DJK out of bounds – the official is right there, and he waves his hand over his head indicating it was not catchable.  But the replay clearly shows that had he not been touched, DJK could have in fact been 3 or 4 more yards down field, where the ball feel to earth just over the sideline – in other words, where he could have caught it.  Kinnick fans boo loudly and the Iowa sideline goes berserk, but the call never comes.  Officials, making mistakes as well.

Adam gets the 2nd down ball and runs it for 9 yards, and then Morse cleans up the 1st down with 4 yards.  Ricky drops back again, but soon pulls it down and heads upfield, it goes for 7.  Adam, nothing.  Stanzi, rolling right, hits Marvin for 7, 1st down Iowa.  Now he finds Reisner on the left side, at the catch, Alan breaks a tackle and scampers upfield for 12 and another 1st down.  Now Adam finds his room, off tackle left, he goes for 10, 1st down Hawkeyes again.  Badgers call timeout to regroup.

When play resumes we have a 1st down at the Wisconsin 13.  Adam gets the carry and leaps over fallen blockers in front of him, he hits the turf after picking up 6.  One more carry picks up 1 yard, so the Hawks take the line with a 3rd and 3.  It’s our own play action pass, the ball does not go to ARob, Stanzi drops back, and quickly finds McNutt crossing alone in the back of the end zone.  The ball is lofted up over the defenders and settles right into Marvin’s hands, touchdown Iowa!  27-24 lead, how bout some defense!

Meyer’s kick goes to the end zone, and it’s brought out to the 16, victory for the coverage team this time.  At the snap, Tolzien drops back, but then rolls to his right, and he is under heavy pressure from the front as he decided to thrown the ball back across his body to the middle of the field.  Mistake –the pass is not very strong, and Greenwood is able to flash in front of the Badger receiver and pick it off!  Turnover!  Finally!  Iowa ball at the 26!  Now, we have to shove this ball into the end zone and make it a two-possession game!

Adam gets the ball first, but can only gain a yard.  Ricky drops back and dumps it to Adam, which gains 3 yards, so we face the 3rd and 6.  Here Stanzi quickly finds DJK at the 10 on the near side of the field – it falls to the ground, and once again, the replay clearly shows the Badger cornerback arriving at DJK’s back before the ball does.  No flag, Iowa sideline again in disbelieve, as the field goal unit took the field.

This would be Meyer’s longest to date, 41 yards, and it does not faze him as he drills it for the 30-24 Iowa lead.  All right, not what we were hoping for, but at least we are up by more than the field goal.  Iowa defense, time to seal the deal.

Meyer’s kickoff finds the end zone, no return.  The Badgers take the ball at the 20 with 8:35 left on the clock.

Clay starts with a 2 yard run, but then on 2nd down, Clayborn finds him as soon as he hits the line of scrimmage, and that brings up the 3rd and 7.  Tolzien is in the shotgun, and it does not seem like he has called for the snap when the ball arrives.  It hits the ground, but nowhere near an Iowa player, and Tolzien picks it up and gets off a pass the nets 3 yards.  The Hawkeye defense has held, 4th and 4 from the Badger 26, Wisconsin sends out the punt team, and Colin drops back as the Hawks set up the return.

We all saw what happens next.  The Badgers are using that wide spread punt formation, so there is space up the middle, and they found it.  The punter caught the ball and took a step forward like he was going to kick it, but then he pulled it down and ran straight up field, 17 yards, all the way out to the 43 yard line.

But the Hawkeye defense seems to respond.  Two Clay carries gain just 3 and then 2 yards, so here is another 3rd and 5.  Tolzien drops back, and the pocked begins to collapse, but Clayborn arrives a split second too late – the ball is out as Tolzien goes down.  The pass goes for 13 yards to the Iowa 39.  Ok, let’s reset the defense.  A quick Badger pass underneath is no good, and then Tolzien ran for 5 yards on 2nd down.  Here we go again, 3rd and 5, this time the Hawkeye line gets their hands up, and they deflect the pass and it falls incomplete.  4th down, the Badgers line up to go for it, and the Hawkeye defense must make one more play.

It was close, but the Iowa line can’t really pressure Tolzien on his drop back, and that gives him the time to find Ball underneath, who is covered by a linebacker. It’s close, but he can’t knock the pass down, and it goes for 7 and a Badger 1st down.

This kind of seemed to knock the wind out of the Iowa defense.  Clay gets the ball and gains 7.  Once more, 4 yards, and 1st down.  Now at the Iowa 16, Ball gets the carry, and he takes it 8 yards to the 8.  Same basic play, the Hawks hit him shortly after the line, but they can’t bring him down, and he pushes tacklers forward and falls inside the 2, at the last second holding the ball over the goal line.  It pops out then and the Hawks fall on it, and the play is reviewed to see if he was down (he wasn’t) and if the ball did cross the goal line (it did).  Touchdown Wisconsin, Hawks are close but don’t get the extra point, and we trailed 31-30 with just over a minute left.

Ok, we have the ball back, we have a senior quarterback, all 3 timeouts, and yes, a freshman kicker, but he’s going to have to do one of these sooner or later, it might as well be now.  We are in great shape.

DJK brings the kickoff to the 25.  Clock at 1:01.

1st down, Ricky finds Adam for 8 yards, and he scoots out of bounds.  55 seconds left.
2nd down, Stanzi tries DJK on the far side, it’s no good; DJK is being blanketed by Badger defenders.
3rd and 2, Adam runs it for 3 yards and 1st down.

Hawks are quickly at the line, Ricky now finds Reisner for 13 yards, and he gets out of bounds at the Iowa 49 – clock stops, 35 seconds left.

Stanzi drops back, and the right side of the line starts to break down, so he tries to cut it outside that way to escape into the flat – he almost makes it, but Watt finally emerges and he gets Ricky’s leg to bring him down for an 11 yard sack.  The Hawks use their first timeout, and then the Badgers use their last one right after, the Hawks are facing a 2nd and 21 with 26 seconds left.

Ricky tries DJK again, but the pass is too high.   3rd and 21, Stanzi is given time by the O-line, and he somehow threads it into Marvin’s hands (in between 3 defenders) for 20 yards – he’s tackled, that brings up a 4th and 1 at the Badger 42.  Hawks call timeout, they have one left.

After the break, the Hawks run another well-execute sneak, 3 yards to the Badger 39 for a 1st down.  The clock stops to reset the chains, and the Iowa O-line and wideouts are all lined up, ready for Stanzi to snap the ball and then down it, saving the timeout for one more play to get into better field goal range.

But, for reasons I can’t quite understand, Stanzi is back in the shotgun, looking over at the sideline with his hands up like he was waiting on the play.  In the confusion, we are forced to call our 3rd and final timeout – there are 12 seconds left.

Ok, there is still time – we need a pass for about 10 yards that gets the ball out of bounds, we then have time to bring in the field goal unit to win the game.  Ricky drops back, but the line is not able to give him much time this time – he has to move up in the pocket, and find Adam as his dump off option – which he takes, but Adam is inside the hashmark, and he is not able to get out of bounds before being tackled with 5 seconds left.  No timeouts, no 1st down, the seconds just tick away, and the game ends with the Hawkeye offense standing there, wondering what just what wrong.

So there it was.  A little bit of pitching in from every segment of the Iowa team that did us in.  A very, very bitter pill to swallow, but at least most of the errors will mental and they can be corrected. 

For the game, Adam ended up with 23 carries for 114 yards – that’s 5.0 per carry, and his one rushing td.  Think he would have had two had we not blown that one 1st half red zone possession.  Ricky, 25 for 37, 258 yards, 3 tds.  No actual turnovers on the Iowa offense (the botched field goal does not count).  The Hawkeye defense held the Badger rushing attack to 142 yards – yes, that’s a lot, but well below their average, and for their average carry they only got 3.7 yards.  Of course, in the end, it was really the lack of much pressure on Tolzien that hurt us – we do know we won’t be facing a line like that rest of the season.

I am actually glad that we are facing the Spartans this week, I think the fact they are coming in ranked as high as they are will keep the players well focused in practice, ready to atone for a performance that left such a hollow feeling in all our stomachs.  There is still much to play for, and the hardest tests still remain inside of Kinnick.  It begins Saturday.

This Week: Michigan State

Many pundits are proclaiming that Sparty is like the 2009 Hawkeyes – racing out to the great start, but with some very close games in the process – in this case some close enough they even gave their head coach a heart attack.  Ok, so that was not just the result of this season, but this season sure hasn’t helped Dantonio’s health.  I would think that their next game might be causing him some sleepless nights – hopefully no more than that.

That’s probably because the first time they left the state of Michigan to play a game (last week), they fell behind the Wildcats 17 - zip before rallying to win 35-27.

They probably should not try that again, our defense is ranked 54 spots ahead of Northwestern’s.

Another week, another highly efficient QB, and another 2 headed rushing attack.  This will be the last time we see a team that runs an offense and defense like we do the rest of the season.  I trust we’ll do a better job the 2nd time around.

Senior QB Kirk Cousins returns, he has amassed 1948 yards, with 14 tds and 4 interceptions.  Like the Hawkeyes and Badgers, he is especially dangerous when the running game works and he can use play action passes.  A pocket passer, he is not a threat to run the ball unless he has to. 

At tailback the Spartans throw out sophomore Edwin Baker, who is averaging 6.8 yards a carry, and freshman Le’Veon Bell, at 6.4 yards per haul.  Bell, 8 rushing tds, Baker, 7.  They can go 3 deep with effectiveness.

Add it all up, and the Spartans average 193 on the ground per game.  We need to cut that in half.

The Spartans defense is lead by returning All American linebacker Greg Jones.  He will get his tackles, to be sure – we need them to be beyond the line of scrimmage.  Overall the State defense is middle of the road, 6th in the Big Ten, 32nd nationally.  This week also matches up Micah Hyde with his Spartan brother, senior safety Marcus. 

You may recall the Spartan game last year  - aside from the dramatics of the final two minutes, it was a field goal snooze fest, with both teams getting very close, but unable to stuff it in.  That should not be the case this season. 

And after our special teams issues of last week, scoring touchdowns will be at a premium.  The Spartans do boast a good special team unit of their own.  Receiver/kick returner Keshawn Martin is a very dangerous threat (but, he was hurt in the last game, and he is TBD Saturday), and when it comes to kicking field goals, the Spartan kicker is 13 out of 14. 

Special teams issues aside, most of what doomed us last week were mental mistakes.  That’s the good news.  Usually, it’s the other team that makes more of them than we do.

After back to back years of playing in East Lansing, the Spartans must finally come to Iowa City.  Many who were in Kinnick last Saturday said that it seemed to have never been louder.  This will be the first time Michigan State has played in such an environment this season (sorry, @ Northwestern doesn’t count).  It may be enough to rattle the team if things start to go haywire with a turnover or quick Iowa scores.

But this also has the makings of a game not unlike last week – with long ball control drives, few turnover opportunities, each possession is of hyper importance. 

Can the Hawkeyes bounce back to knock off a Top 5 team at home?  Yes.  I am sure that to a man, they all feel bad about how things went last Saturday and they have flushed it from their minds, but not the determination to correct the errors and execute the game plan correctly.  The Spartan offensive line is not Wisconsin’s; our D-line needs to step up and get more pressure on Cousins, and I think they will.   Our own O-line has been playing well, and with a senior quarterback, we should be able to neutralize most Spartan blitzes with slants and quick dump offs. 

The Big Ten title is still in play and the Hawkeyes will play like it.  With his first catch, DJK will become the Iowa all-time leader in receptions, in a day in which he goes over the 100 yards mark with 2 touchdowns.  Adam will be fired up to face another good rushing team, I think he will get over 100 yards again, with 2 tds of his own.  After a couple of weeks with subpar results, the Iowa defense will respond, and force 3 State turnovers.  Sorry Sparty, maybe you should have played a road game during the pre-season.  Iowa 35, Michigan State 20.



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