October 16, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 6

Iowa’s Record:  4-1, 1-0 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #15 (648 votes)
USA Today: #14 (710 votes)
BCS: first poll this Sunday

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 3:36 PM ABC/ESPN (Regional)
10/23/10 Wisconsin 3:36 PM, ABC/ESPN
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

Coverage Maps for 10/16:

October 16th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes v. #24 Michigan Wolverines 5-1, 1-1 Big Ten
Prior Games: 55, Michigan leads 40-11-4
Last Game: 2009: Michigan 28, Iowa 30

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +4
Big Ten #4, NCAA #18

Current Line: Iowa -3.5

Scoring Defense 10.2, Pass Def 179.0, Rush Def 63.2, Interceptions 6, Total Defense 242.2
Big Ten                 #1                       #3                          #1                          #5 tie                      #2
NCAA                   #1                     #28                                     #2                         #39 tie                     #4

Scoring Offense 33.6, Pass Offense 254.2, Rush Offense 172.2, Total Offense 426.4
Big Ten                #6                            #3                                 #7                                #5
NCAA                  #33                          #32                               #45                              #33
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: Penn State

Well that was the way to open up the Big Ten season my friends!  Another beat down of the hapless Lions, then the bye week to rest and recover; a bye week to get in more film time for the challenges ahead. 

And I must confess, I was not really confidant that the Kinnick faithful were going to pull off the striping to anywhere near the perfection that emerged as ESPN pulled back from the field to open the telecast.  Wow – huge props to all the Hawkeye fans for doing their part on a magical night.  Yes, somewhere, posters are being printed up.

Of course, as the stadium looked so resplendent in the Gold and Black, one could not help notice the boring, plain white water tower in the distance…

Then the cameras returned to the field, and the Penn State kicker launched the ball into the end zone for a touchback.

They then lined up to stop the run, but the line did its job and Adam clipped off 6 as he went off tackle right.  Ricky drops back and after a quick survey, dumps the ball down to Morse in the flat for 9 yards and a 1st down.

That’s right, the fullback got the ball on the 2nd play.

Moving on, Stanzi then hits Marvin in the far side flat, that’s good for 12 more.  Adam now, hit about 2 yards downfield, but the pile surges forward for a total of 5.  Here is another end around, Chaney Jr moving from the left side to right, 15 yards, 1st down.  Penn State defense not sure what to expect next – it’s Ricky dropping back, and then lofting the pass over the top to McNutt – the ball drops in perfectly to Marvin’s hands, he makes the catch just before stepping out of bounds.  24 yards, Iowa ball at the PSU 9.  Back to Adam again – it looks like he might plow his way through – but is taken down at the 2.  Now the Hawks line up to stuff it in, but the flag flies, and Stanzi is called for a false start – though in fact the replay showed the movement was on the left side.  So now 2nd and goal back from the 8, Adam is stuffed for -1, and then on 3rd down, Ricky can’t find anyone on the outside, so he dumps it to ARob over the middle, and he is taken down at the 3.  Hawks line up to kick the field goal and –

ESPN cuts away to the Oregon game – except nothing is happening, just some ducks walking around.  They finally get us back to Iowa City just as the tight-angle kick sails through the uprights.  3-0 Hawkeyes.  Yeah, 7 would have been nice – one bad play killed the opportunity. 

Our kickoff lands at the 5 and is returned to the 35 – further than we wanted, but the threat was contained. 

Paterno has the young QB rollout on 1st down, a wise choice; he dumps it off and gains 7 yards.  But the next pass to the near sideline sails well over the target’s head, so they try Royster on 3rd down – up the middle – the tackle is made for no gain by about 6 Hawkeye defenders.  Here again, the opposition with the opening 3 and out.  Thank you.

Adam now up the middle, but just for a yard.  On 2nd, he tries it off tackle – left – and voila!  Space to be had, 14 yards, 1st down.  Now Ricky fakes the handoff and drops back, head up, and looking to go over the top once again.  He does, aiming for DJK down the center of the field, but it’s slightly underthrown, and the safety emerges to pick it off.  During the replay it was very obvious – Stanzi had just needed to wait a second longer (he had the time), that safety was going to have to commit to either DJK or McNutt crossing the field – had Ricky waited, one of them was going to be wide open.  But he didn’t, and Penn State had the ball at their 17-yard line.

The Iowa defense was not going to allow this development to result in any kind of momentum change.  Royster, -1, stopped by Adrian.  The QB tries to run it, sorry kid, there is that man again, no gain.  They now try a quick pass near the sideline, but this one is also well overshot, 3 and out.  Colin takes the punt with a fair catch at the Iowa 49.

You just had a feeling – ball at midfield, the td, inevitable.

And so Ricky flips it to Alan, he stops and shoves the linebacker aside, and picks up 9.  Stanzi drops back again, but doesn’t like what he sees, so he pulls it down and trots upfield for 9 more.  Adam gets tripped up for nothing, and then Reisner catches another one, but he tries to do too much, and actually gives back about 3 of the yards gained to only net 2.  No problem, Ricky has faith in his tight end, and on this snap, Stanzi drops back, looks to the right, but then quickly comes back left, and fires a strike to Alan who is running an out pattern on the near hash – a linebacker trailing helplessly behind him. It’s caught, 16 yards, 1st down Iowa at the PSU 15.

Adam again, 6 more to the 9. Now Ricky drops back, looks to McNutt to the right, it’s not there, moves his eyes back toward center, and sees DJK as he flashes open, running from the right back to the left, in the back of the end zone.  Ricky fires it high to clear the underneath coverage, and DJK leaps to snag it, coming down with both feet in the end zone (ready for the next level), touchdown Iowa, 10-0, clock at 1:00 left in the 1st.

This Iowa kickoff is returned to the 26, and Royster is only able to gain 2 on 1st down.  Now Bolden drops back, but he needed to get it out quickly and he didn’t – Ballard splits a double team and fires right up the middle, sack, -8 yards.  So ends the 1st quarter – total yards, Penn State 1, Iowa 148.

After the break the Lions try a quick pass but Nielson breaks it up, another 3 and out.  The punt lands at the 42, another fair catch.

This drive starts with a ARob run that is stuffed for -1, and ends with a pass to Colin that gains 8 on the 3rd and 10.  So we now punt, and the Penn State return man is tackled at the 14.

We finally allow the Penn State offense a bit of daylight.  The drive starts with Ballard chasing down Bolden as he tries to scramble; the run only gains 2 yards.  But now he fires a pass to the near hash that is caught, and that nets 15 and an actual 1st down.  The next pass, again too high over the middle.  Now they try a pitch right, to the back up tailback, who breaks about two tackles as he runs it for 19 and another 1st down.  This gets them all the way out to the 49, but from here the Hawkeye defense throws up a wall, and the 3rd down pass deep down the left side is close, but the receiver falls down as it arrives, no good.  Punt, fair catch at the Iowa 16.

The Hawks get one first down on a pass to DJK and a run by Adam, but then stall, and punt it back to the Lions, ball at their 33.

They now try an end around – and our defense sees it coming all the way, it goes for a two-yard loss.  Sash nearly snags the next pass, but can’t quite get all the way around the receiver, who then actually catches it, that’s 25 yards for Penn State.  They are now at our 42, but in the next 3 plays, they can only manage to lose 6 feet.  The resulting punt is both weak, and bouncing back toward the line of scrimmage.  It rolls out of bounds at the Iowa 32 for a net of 12 yards. 

KOK comes out firing.  Stanzi rolls out and finds Marvin to the right, 18 yards.  Now he drops straight back, and finds McNutt again  (on the left side) for 18 more – the pass, a bit low, Marvin stretches down to snag it just before it hits the turf.  Adam tears through weak tackles at the line and carries it for 6, and then he gets 6 more for a 1st down, inside the Red Zone.

Why not – Adam, right up the gut for 7 more, not just breaking arm tackles, but actually blowing up linebackers who are flailing helplessly to stop him.  How bout one more – he goes off tackle right, and the corner pylon is there – he dives and…is knocked out of bounds inside the 1.  Well, he might have been a bit gassed, as he can go nowhere on the 1st and goal from the 1.  But Ricky makes the smart move and snaps the ball as soon as everyone is set, and the line surges forward, and Stanzi follows them in for the Iowa touchdown and 17-0 lead.  Clock at 1:41, let’s see what the Penn State offense can do in the two-minute drill.

Umm…more than I think we expected.  The kickoff is only brought out to the 17, so we were poised to stuff this attack.  A 1st down deep pass is knocked away by Hyde, but then the Lions toss a screen pass, and that gets into open space and nets 17 yards.  A quick pass to the left gains 7, and PSU calls time out.

They now complete a pass for 10 more, but the flag flies, and holding is the call.  Another screen is tried, but this time the Hawks have it sniffed out, and stop it after only 4 yards.  Now Bolden drops back and tries the deep pass down the near sideline, but the secondary knew it was coming, and Greenwood steps in front of the receiver to pick it off – but back behind the line, Clayborn is called for roughing the passer, hardly an extreme example of the penalty, so the drive lives on.  Ball now on the PSU 49, and a quick pass left is no good.  It should have ended right here, but somehow Prater allows the Penn State wideout to get behind him, and the long pass is caught inside the Iowa 10, with Shaun finally recovering to knock the guy out of bounds at the 3.  PSU calls a timeout, and they seem like they will take one quick shot into the end zone, it’s either a td or no good, and then they can kick the field goal.  But, thanks to some clock management issues, they are actually called for a delay of game coming out of the timeout, and from the 7, they don’t want to risk a play, so the PSU field goal is good, and halftime emerges with a 17-3 Hawkeye lead.

So, we are all feeling pretty good with the halftime lead, sure the 21-3 lead would have been better, but we have 30 more minutes to put some distance between us.  ESPN never does give us a classic halftime stats box, but we can glean from some quick pop ups in the 3rd that the total yards were in favor of Iowa 235 to 144, and we are averaging 6.8 yards on 1st down, while PSU was only managing 1.2.

All right, 3rd quarter now, we just need to stuff the Penn State opening drive to leave no doubt, and coast our way on home from there.

It didn’t quite work out that way.  A quick pass and Royster run bring up a 3rd and 3, but State connects on a pass over the middle for 11 yards and a 1st down.  Another pass is dropped on the left side, and then Royster for 5 yards, here is another 3rd down, but the Hawks can’t stop the quick pass for the 4 yards needed.  Oh wait, the replay shows us why – Clayborn is triple teamed – but what the replay also shows is that not one, but two guys were holding him.  Not called, so the drive moves on.  Another very quick pass nets 3, but then the Hawks are burned on a slant pass for 18 more, that’s a 1st down at the Iowa 20.  Another slant gains 9 more, and the Iowa bend-don’t-break defense is about at the breaking point.  About.

The fullback takes the quick handoff but is only able to gain 1 yard up the middle.  A shovel pass to Royster gets the ball to the 5, and then a run by him gets close, but he falls forward to the 1.  3rd and goal, from 3 feet away, State tries the quick handoff again, but Ballard has blown past the O-line and drops the fullback for a yard loss.  State calls timeout before facing the 4th and goal.

At the snap, Bolden is in the shotgun, and he rolls out to the right – but there is no one there to pitch the ball to, so he is going it alone.  The Iowa defense is prepared for this; and they are able to string him out farther than he wanted to go.  Finally he makes his move, but Hunter drills him to stop his momentum, and then Ballard swoops in to wrap him up and bring him to the ground.  At full speed it was hard to tell – but then the side judge put one hand up and stepped onto the field to mark the ball at about the 1-foot line.  They play is reviewed, and sure enough, Bolden’s helmet broke the plane, but the ball never does.  Iowa ball, 1 yard line, the bend-don’t break defense has lived up to the billing, once again.

Whew, so in those last two possessions, Penn State could have made it a 17-14 game.  But thanks to their lack of execution, and our defense stepping up to make the critical play, it remained 17-3, and we were reminded again why Penn State has only beaten us once in the last decade.  Many of these games have been close, but someone always steps up to make the difference, just as we had witnessed on that drive.

That drive had used up more than half of the 3rd; we get the ball back at 7:11 on the clock.  We are then able to get the ball off the goal line and out to our 35, but stall from there, and Ryan punts the ball to the Penn State 30.

This drive starts with a bang, an option run by Royster nets 21 yards to get the ball to midfield, but from there, 3 straight incomplete passes (two of which were near interceptions) kill the Penn State effort.  Punt, ball out of bounds at the 20.

This started a stretch where if you took a nap, you didn’t miss much.  Iowa drive, 3 and out, punt back to Penn State, where they end up with it at the 49.  But, they go 3 and out, and punt it back to us, where it’s downed at the 4.

It seemed like the Iowa offense had then awakened, Stanzi hit Morse for 21, and then up top to DJK for 45 more, and we were at the PSU 36.  But from there, nothing, punt back to Penn State, ball at the PSU 7.

So begins the series where after State gains a first down, they fail to block Clayborn, who almost-sacks Bolden, he didn’t because the QB tossed the ball away while going down.  Alas, no one was there, that’s intentional grounding, 15 yards, and loss of down.  Drive, dead, but the punter gets all of this one, 74 yards to the Iowa 15.

Hawks, 3 and out.  State fair catches the punt at the 41.  Clock, 6:11 of the 4th.

Oh look, another 3 and out.  Iowa ball after the punt, at the 21.  After 5 plays and one holding call, Donahue is called out again, another punt, this time 45 yards, caught – no muffed! – at the Penn State 20, but they fall on it.  Living to fight another down.  Well, in this case, one more down.

Bolden goes into the deep drop, and the Iowa defense isn’t expecting anything other than a pass.  The ball is actually pretty badly underthrown, and it’s Prater who snags it, and then follows his blockers to move all the way across the field, and into the end zone for the pick-6 and 24-3 lead.  Penn State would get the ball one more time, and the backup QB would get the ball all the way to the Iowa 12, but then the clock hit 0.00, and the Lions were left with their worst loss to the Hawkeyes, ever.

By point total, that is, I don’t think they really expected to win the game coming in, and after we snuffed out their back-to-back scoring chances around halftime, it was pretty much over.   I would expect they are on the way to a .500 type season, I don’t see them being able to score enough against the heavyweight defenses coming up, but the young offense will be better in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, based on the start that we had, it certainly seemed like we could have put the game away sooner, and done more with some of our offensive possessions.  Fortunately, those weaknesses were not exposed, and we have had 14 days between games to work on some things. 

Of course, there is a rather big difference between Penn State’s defense (#27 nationally) and the one we are facing next.  Then again, the scales are flipped 100% when it comes to the offenses from the last game to the next.  In that regard, the two weeks we have had to prepare should be critical to our success on Saturday.

This Week: Michigan

Another week, another variation of the read/spread/hurry up/option offense, though up until last week, this one seemed like the mother of all of them.  Sadly for Michigan, that illusion was finally exposed when the Spartans took the field, with their balanced offense, and above average defense.

That’s not to say that the Wolverines didn’t have their chance to be 6-0 heading into our game.  State capitalized on some very critical mistakes by assumed Heisman Trophy winner Denard Robinson, who tossed two interceptions in the MSU end zone, and completely missed wide open receivers for tds at least twice.  Couple that with his sub-par rushing effort (21 carries, 86 yards, long of 16), and MSU has shown that the Michigan offense is still a work in progress.

Sort of, they are still leading the Big Ten, and are 4th nationally, with a 297 per game average on the ground.  But the Spartans kept them 140 yards below that, so we can be optimistic that the much higher rated Iowa defense should be able to as well.  We have yet to allow a rushing touchdown in 2010, probably unrealistic to think that could continue this week, but I’m sure it’s in Clayborn’s head to keep that streak going. 

Still, Shoelace, as he is called, is very fast and shifty, so staying home is going to be uber-critical until the read has been done, and the ball carrier or pass is committed to.  We must tackle – by that I mean gang tackle, and there will be pass plays where Michigan wide outs are in open space (underneath), everyone has got to play the game right and get guys down if they can hit them. 

And it goes without saying but here I am typing it, we need the cornerbacks Prater and Hyde to man up on the outside and let the safeties provide run support if needed.  That’s the main threat to this kind offense, fall asleep watching the run, get burned by wideouts down the field.  Michigan was successful with this until last Saturday.  Keep everything in front of us – the Iowa bend don’t break defense. 

And now the fun part of this week’s Game Notes, the part where we talk about the Michigan Defense against our offense.

How bout some defensive stats – Michigan:
Total Defense 450.7 yards, Big Ten #11, NCAA #112 (120 teams in Div. 1)
Rush Defense 146.3 Big Ten #9 NCAA #55
Pass Defense 304.3 Big Ten #11, NCAA #119
Scoring Defense 26.8 Big Ten #9, NCAA #75.

Suffice it to say, it’s there for the taking.  MSU showed that the balance  (287 passing, 249) was a great way to wear down the Michigan defense, and of course, limit the opportunities for the Wolverine offense to have the ball (State, almost 11 minutes more in TOP). 

One of the things I noticed watching this game was the Michigan secondary had a lot of trouble with crossing routes.  McNutt, that’s you.  They also seem highly susceptible to talented tight ends working between the hashes.  And play-action passes in general.  DJK, you should be able to head down field.

Meanwhile, Adam has had a week off to shake off any bumps and bruises, getting him going to get those play action passes open will also be critical.  Knowing that points will be key Saturday, I think KOK might look to dig into his bag of tricks and expand things beyond the end arounds to Chaney or Sandeman.  Last week Michigan State actually executed a reverse-flip back to Cousins, who threw it 50 yards down field to a wide-open receiver.  What new wrinkles might we see Saturday?

One other thing – the Spartans did not turn the ball over last week.  Ricky, be smart, take what the defense gives you. 

As is always the case in the Big Ten, we are going to need the special teams to be just that.  Not worried about the punting of course, it’s just real important for the coverage team to get down there, down the ball, tackle the guy.  Make the Michigan offense drive the length of the field.  And if you think our kicking situation is shaky (Tara), wait til you see Michigan’s.  Well, if we do see it – they did have one successful field goal last week, I think that made them 2 for 6 on the season. 

This is not a week where we are facing a dangerous (stat wise) kickoff return team, Michigan being #101 nationally, 65 spots below us.  I am going to keep calling for it, DJK is going to break one sooner or later, on the road to shut up the 113,000 (yeah, they just expanded the capacity) would be a thing of beauty.

You probably heard the news about Norm Parker last week; his diabetes complications have now claimed a foot.  That surgery was a month ago now, and Norm seems to be well on his way back, though he is not making the trip to Ann Arbor Saturday.  The latest word from Kirk is that Norm will not only finish out the season upon his return, he plans on coaching into the future, as long as he can.  But we know that over this two week break that he has indeed been a part of the planning for this game, and for the defensive efforts that we are going to have to show in the weeks ahead – no days off in the Big Ten this season. 

I know games like this are scary, with Michigan’s quick strike capability, and the potential for a high stress game watch right until the final gun.  But they have now played half their games, and the defensive stats do count for something.  We can get points.  And we know that our defense is most certainly relishing the chance to show the Big House that if they thought they faced a tough unit last week, well, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet. 

Hawks must start quick; keep Michigan in chase mode, where if they are forced to pass, they are much less dangerous.  Sure it’s not easy in a place like the Big House, but we are favored for a reason.  Expect McNutt and DJK to each approach 100 yards, Adam should hit the century mark at about 5 yards a pop.  That will open it up for the Iowa offense, and we should be able to pass the 30 point barrier, and that will be enough.  The RichRod hot seat grows ever warmer with back-to-back home losses.  Hawkeyes 34, Wolverines 16



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