November 13, 2010

TES - 2010 Hawkeye Football Game Notes Week 10

Iowa’s Record:  7-2, 4-1 Big Ten
Iowa’s Rankings
AP: #13 (807 votes)
USA Today: #13 (779 votes)
BCS: #13

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 WIN 37-6
11/06/10 @ Indiana WIN 18-13
11/13/10 @ Northwestern 12:00 PM, ESPN
11/20/10 Ohio State 3:36 PM, ABC
11/27/10 @ Minnesota TBD

November 13th, 2010: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Northwestern Wildcats 6-3, 2-3 Big Ten
Prior Games: 71, Iowa leads 46-22-3
Last Game: 2009: Northwestern 17, Iowa 10

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +12
Big Ten #2, NCAA #3

Current Line: Iowa -10

Scoring Defense 14.3, Pass Def 209.3, Rush Def 85.2, Interceptions 14, Total Defense 294.6
Big Ten                 #2                       #6                          #2                          #2 tie                            #2
NCAA                   #6                      #50                         #5                          #11 tie                          #8

Scoring Offense 32.3, Pass Offense 250.8, Rush Offense 159.0, Total Offense 409.8
Big Ten                #4                            #4                                 #7                                #4
NCAA                  #34                          #35                               #50                              #42
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: Indiana

So, we got a bit more of a football game than the sports books and I predicted, but in the end, it’s a Big Ten road win.  We’ve all seen enough examples of what can happen in games like this, fortunately in this case we were able to make the plays when they mattered, and Indiana could not.

It sure did take long enough for the Hawkeyes to make them.  Can’t recall seeing us move the ball up and down the field with such ease, only to self destruct a mere 30 feet from the end zone, as often as we did on Saturday.  Some of that was on the play calling, some on the execution of the plays called, and others, failure to keep focus and discipline, which resulted in terrible penalties.  In light of the near precision of the Spartan game, that all was certainly disappointing to witness.

Word broke on Friday night that Adam was not going to even make the trip, so the backfield was Coker’s as the Hawkeyes took the field at the 28 yard line.  Davis had gotten us there, it seemed like the Hoosiers were making a conscious effort to keep the kicks away from DJK.

Marcus made the most of his opening play snap, going off tackle right for 16 yards.  It certainly seemed like KOK was calling the plays off a script, as out came the end around to DJK for 10 more.  Coker got another handoff and went left for 3, and then Stanzi went into the quick drop back and fired a strike to Davis; that went for 12 yards, and a 1st down at the Hoosier 31. 

Ricky gives the ball to Marcus again and he gets hit in the backfield, but he is able to spin out of that tackle to get back to the line of scrimmage.  One more time, this time heading off tackle left, and Morse gets the corner sealed, Coker hauls it 19 yards to the Indiana 12 – again leaving two Hoosier defenders flailing at air as he blew through them.

Ok boys, let’s ram this down their throats, but alas, KOK is not taking his cues from us, so he calls a fade to McNutt – Marvin is indeed open, but Stanzi overshoots him.  Now Ricky rolls out to the right, but the midlevel pass to the end zone is covered, so he fires it underneath to DJK, along the far sideline – as he made the catch, it looked like he could break back inside the cornerback to get to the end zone, but he stumbled, and was downed there, at the 6.  Now 3rd and 4, Ricky tries the fade to DJK, but this pass also misses long, so Meyer comes in to boot the 23 yard, tight angle field goal.  3-0 Hawks.

Our kick lands at the 6 and is carried out to the 22.  As expected, Chappell comes out firing, such as one can say for five yard patterns.  A past left, 6 yards.  Now they run an end around and the Hawks can’t seal the edge, it goes for 16.  During the resulting dead ball the Iowa defense gets the personal mixed up, and the flag flies for 12 men on the field.

Runner/returner/receiver Doss gets a traditional handoff, and he runs for 4 yards against an Iowa 3 man front.  They go back to the traditional 4 down linemen to see Indiana run for 6 more right up the middle, giving Indiana a 1st down at the Iowa 42.

On this snap, Chappell and his tailback muff the fake handoff, and the ball falls to the turf, but it never really bounces, so Chappell is able to pick it up and just fling it deep down the middle of the field.  Realizing he has been beat, Hyde grabs the receiver and prevents him from getting to the ball.  That’s a flag, but better than a 42 yard td pass.

Now at the 27, one of their quick passes left is too high and no good.  They try the same basic play and get 7 yards, with Johnson making the stop when it looked at the catch like the receiver had room to run.  Now 3rd down and 3, the Hoosier pass over the middle is deflected by Hunter, and nearly picked out of the air by Hyde.  So Indiana lines up for the 37 yard field goal and they make it, bringing the score to 3 all.

All right, let’s step it up with a td this time and see if they can respond.  They again aim the kick to Davis, he grabs it at the 10 and bursts out to the 33 – only to see the flags fly, a block in the back, Iowa ball at the 22.

Marcus again, 7 yards to the right side, and then 2 yards to the left.  Hawks try the quick snap to run the sneak play, but Ricky never makes it over the line, as the flag flies again, and we are hit for a false start, accepted, 3rd and 6.  Fine, Ricky is in the shotgun and he hits Sandeman on a crossing route, 14 yards, 1st down Hawkeyes.  Stanzi drops back again, and he floats the ball about 20 yards downfield to the near sideline – only there is no Iowa receiver there, only a diving Indiana safety making the interception.  On the replay, it looked like Stanzi and Reisner were not on the same page – the pass appeared to be where Alan maybe should have been.  Regardless, it’s Hoosier ball at their 46.

Chappell starts with a swing pass that is well over his target’s head.  So, he comes back to the underneath patterns, and completes one over the middle for 10 yards, 1st down.  Under heavy Daniels pressure Chappell dumps the ball left for 8.  He next tries a quick slant, but Hyde sees this coming all the way and he undercuts the receiver to knock it down.  3rd and 2, and the Hawks are not able to get off the field as Indiana fires another short pattern to the near sideline for 3 yards and a 1st down.

Indiana is now at the 32, but from here, things got tougher.  A handoff to the right results in a block in the back flag, so the Hoosiers are pushed back to a 1st and 20.  One underneath pass gets 7 of these back, but then Chappell makes the mistake to go away from his underneath sideline patterns and attack over the middle.  Morris gets his hands on the ball and it pops up, and then into the hands of Greenwood – interception!  Now Brett is running the other way, all the way to the 33, where a Hoosier clocks an Iowa player as the play ends – 15 more yards for the personal foul.  Iowa ball at the 48 yard line.

Back to the ground and pound, Coker carries for 4, but the next time he goes off tackle for 12 yards, 1st down Hawks.  Stanzi rolls right but doesn’t have the deep routes open, so he dumps it to DJK on the far sideline – he’s in bounds, 9 yards.  Back to Coker, he starts left, but then cuts it back to the right – one defender has a shot at him behind the line, but Marcus pushes him aside and gets 5 out of it for his efforts.  1st down Hawkeyes, ball at the 21. 

One more rush in that direction gains 4 yards and ends the 1st quarter.  Rest up Marcus, as you will get the next play after the break, right up the middle for 4 more yards.  3rd down and 2, why not, Coker off tackle right, that goes for 4 yards, and a 1st and goal from the Hoosier 9. 

KOK must have noticed something in the tapes, as he tries another fade to DJK, but it is no good.  Thinking rush, the Hoosiers storm the line and stuff Coker for -1 yard, bringing up the 3rd and goal from the 10.  Stanzi feels the heat rather quickly, and he is forced to roll to the near sideline, where he has no choice but to throw the ball away.  Meyer again, this time from 27 yards out, it’s good.  6-3 Hawkeyes.  Grumbling throughout Hawkeye Nation, wondering why we are stalling when within spitting distance of the goal line.

Maybe next time, for now, how bout a stop.  The kickoff goes to the 4…and we seem to have it…wait, no, he’s getting the near sideline…and it’s Meyer who finally gets in his way, out at the 43.  Defense, get to work.

This drive starts with a run that draws a holding flag, so 1st and 15 for the Hoosiers looks good to Hawkeye fans.  A pass right is no good, but it draws boos and hysterical antics from the Indiana coach for the perceived interference.  A handoff goes for 4 yards, so the defense has forced the 3rd and 11, no problem.

Well the boys get a little jumpy and commit an offsides penalty, so that 3rd and long was down a much more manageable 3rd and 6.  Another quick pass over the middle goes for 10 yards, so that opportunity was wasted. 

More dinking and dunking – pass, run, pass, run, get the ball to the Iowa 8.  On this 1st down, Chappell fires it down the middle, and the receiver got his hands on it in the back of the end zone – but then he dropped it, incomplete.

A handoff nets 4, bringing up 3rd and goal from the Hawkeye 4.  At the snap, Chappell fakes the handoff and drops back to pass – but then he seems kind of frozen in time, as nothing comes open, but he doesn’t move to dump it off or throw it away.  He is just kind of standing there as Daniels plants himself into the quarterback’s chest, a sack, back at the 11.  A yellow hankie emerges but that was a clean hit – it’s in fact a holding call on Indiana, which the Hawks decline, and the Hoosier field goal unit takes the turf.  This kick, 28 yards, and good.  6-6.  Everywhere, fans are dozing off.

Ok, let’s try this again offense.  We get the ball all the way out of the 36, as the Indiana kickoff is popped up and caught by CJF – not finding much time as a tight end yet, but cutting his chops on special teams.

Ricky runs the play action fake and rolls right, he tries for Davis but the pass is no good.  Coker now, 5 yards.  Stanzi rolls again and this time aims for Sandeman, that one is good for 12 and a 1st down.  Stanzi is back again, but he is forced to step up in the pocket, and it collapses around him for a 3 yard sack.  On the next snap, the line does its job, and Stanzi has time to find Davis alone on the near sideline, that goes for 19 more.  Now more pounding – Coker right side, 7 yards.  Coker left side, 5 yards.  Coker off tackle left – get’s the corner turned, stiff arms a cornerback, spins out of another tackle, and falls forward for 12 yards to the Indiana 6 yard line.

Ricky doesn’t like what he sees at the line, so he takes a timeout.  Good, let’s let Coker rest a minute before we ask him to stuff this in.

The Hoosiers knew what was coming so they were able to stop Marcus for no gain.  Stanzi now, rolling right, he has Morse alone in the flat and he hits him…and he just needs another step to get the corner turned for the td – but he doesn’t have it, and is brought down after a 2 yard gain.  3rd and goal, come on Hawkeyes you can do this.  Snap, Ricky rolls left – he has Sandeman open in the corner of the end zone – but the pass needs to be in front of him, not behind him.  Colin does a great job to get his hands on it, but he can’t haul it in.  Meyer takes the field again, kicking from the right hash from just 22 yards out – but he somehow actually over-cuts the kick, and it misses wide left. 

The Hawkeye defense does kill the next possession after the 1st down play draws a personal foul penalty on Indiana – the officials mistakenly say #30, but that guy is not on the field, our own #30, Greenwood, was not involved in the play.  What actually happened is an Indiana player clocked a Hawkeye in the back a couple yards upfield from where the receiver was being pushed out of bounds – after the play was over.  Lynch seemed very close to drawing a bench penalty, but his coaches pull him back, and the play resumed.  That drive died 3 plays later, and the Hawks got the ball back at the 41 after the punt, with 50 seconds left.

We got the ball as far as the 36, but then the half ended, and the teams left the field to a 6 all tie.  Indiana feeling good I’m sure, Iowa players I’m sure frustrated with their end of drive results so far.

Didn’t seem to me like the Hawks had come out flat, unable to muster the energy after the previous two contests.  No, they were playing hard, just off a bit.  A good half time chat with the coaches should do the trick.

Hoosiers get the ball first; a stop here would be a very good sign.  The kickoff lands at the 10, and is carried out to the 32.  Defense - time to shine.

Indiana begins with a handoff that nets 4 yards.  But quickly back to the short passing attack, Chappell drops back and tries one over the middle, but Hunter gets his hands on it, no good.  3rd and 6th, the QB tries going over the middle again, but this time Morris rises up to knock it to the turf.  3 and out, just what we needed, way to go D!  The punt rolls out of bounds at our 16.

Stanzi starts with a play action fake and then moves into a soft roll, he finds McNutt underneath for 5.  Coker, right side, but for only a yard.  We can play this dump off game too, Hoosiers – 3rd and 4, Ricky hits Marvin on the left side for 5, 1st down Hawkeyes.  Enough of that short stuff, Stanzi has Marvin in the clear on an intermediate pattern, and McNutt reaches down to snag the ball just inches from the ground – 19 yards.  Ball at the 47, here we go.  Stanzi drops back again, but he fails to see Davis alone deep down the left, and fails to see Coker just a few yards from him for the dump off – and in all this time, the line has broken down and Ricky goes down for a 7 yard sack.  He gets it out quicker on the next snap, Colin for 6, so we face 3rd and 11.  The line does the job, and Stanzi is able to find DJK on a crossing route – but it goes for 10, not the 11 we needed.  DJK does not get up from this hit – it looks bad for a moment, but he soon walks off the field without any help.  Donahue comes in and his punt lands at the 4, but there is no one there to down it, touchback.

Indiana can do nothing with it, so we get the ball back 4 plays later.  Sandeman has his best return of the day, carrying the kick from the 30 out to the Iowa 45.  A flag flies, but is then picked up – the block in the back was actually in the side, and that’s legal.

DJK trots back onto the field, good to go.

This would be a good time to attack, and KOK seems to agree.  Stanzi back, he fires it deep down the hash, and lays the ball perfectly into McNutt’s hands – he takes the hit but holds on, 28 yards!  How bout an end around to Chaney – the blocking is there, he gets to the 15, 10, finally brought down at the 9!  Come on Hawkeyes!  Coker, goes left and gets 3, 2nd and goal.  Stanzi, rolls right, but has nothing, throw away.  3rd and goal.  Oh no, here we go again – Iowa is out of the huddle late, Stanzi isn’t even looking up as the play clock hits .00, flag, delay of game, 3rd and goal from the 12 now.  Let’s do this again, but as the Hawks line up, James Ferentz stands back up after putting his hand on the ball – you can’t do that, it’s a false start, 5 more yards, 3rd and goal from the 17.  The Iowa timeout is called from the sideline – probably a good thing.

After the break Stanzi finds the end zone flooded with defenders, so he dumps it to Morse in the flat, and he gets to the 10.  Meyer in, this kick is from 27 yards, and is not smack dab on the hash – easier, he makes it, 9-6 Hawkeyes.  Lead back, we need the defense to throw up another 3 and out right now.

Nope, after the kick is brought out to the 31, Chappell starts with a quick pass left, 9 yards.  He carries the ball himself on 2nd down – it looks about as bad as you can expect for a pure passing quarterback, but he gets 2 yards out of it, and a 1st down.  He then tries going over the middle again, and this time a lineman gets his hands on it, but the ball still flies forward and is caught for 8 yards.  Ground game, a handoff goes off tackle right and gets 7, that’s another Hoosier 1st down.  A quick pass right, 5 yards.  A run to the right, strung out by the defense, goes for just 1.  3rd and 4, come on defense!  A dump off – the tackle is made immediately, but it goes for the 5 needed.  Chappell goes right back to the same spot and gets 5 more, and then a run gains 5, and Indiana is in the Hawkeye red zone, 1st down at the 19.

We nearly got the stop we were looking for.  On 1st down, Chappell tries hitting one of his wideouts over the middle – the pass is caught at about the 2, but before the receiver can land, Greenwood plows into him, and the ball flies out, right back toward the swarm of Iowa linebackers and lineman back up at around the 15 – tip drill!!!  But no, the only person to get his hands on it is an Indiana offensive lineman, who predictably, drops it.  Chappell goes right back to the same place, and this time he gets his man who is chopped down at the 1.  There was no heroic goal line stand this time, Chappell sneaks it, it looks close but is called a td.  Reviewed, upheld, Hoosiers lead 13-9. 

We were not able to mount the quick response hoped for, and we go 3 and out; this drive brings end to the 3rd quarter.  I’m sure Hoosier fans might have had some bad thoughts creep into their minds if they recalled the 2009 4th quarter.  They would again 2010.

The flag flies during our punt, that’s a block in the back, Hoosier ball back at their 9. They can do nothing, and we get the ball back with a fair catch at our 39.

Come on Hawkeye offense!  Coker goes right, and he gets 8 yards.  Once more, right up the middle – Marcus is plowing through bodies as he gets 5, 10, 12 yards!  Stanzi drops back now, he has McNutt alone on an out pattern, 17 yards, Iowa ball at the Hoosier 24.  Coker again, hits heavy traffic at the line, but he is able to fall forward for 4.  2nd and 6 from the 20, Hawks line up, and the flag flies – Vandervelde has rocked a bit in his set, that’s another false start.  Coker gets it, but he runs into a blitz, no gain.  3rd down, Ricky has Marvin open at the near pylon – yes!  No, it’s too deep, no good.  Meyer takes the field and looks at something a bit longer, this time 42 yards.  No problem, he boots it through, and the Hawks were within one at 13-12.  The clock is at 8:33 of the 4th.

We need a stop.  The tackle is made at the 25, and the Hoosier offense takes the field.

No break from the game plan at this time.  Chappell back, quick pass near side, 9 yards.  A handoff, Klug is there, but it goes for the 1 yard needed, 1st down.  They run it again, this time Hunter is in the hole, and this carry only goes for a yard.  Two runs, enough, back to the dink passing, right side, caught, but flags fly, a tripping penalty, that’s 15 yards, and suddenly the Hoosiers are facing a 2nd and 24.  This, we can kill.

But we can’t.  Somehow a receiver gets open on an intermediate route along the near sideline, Chappell hits him; and that goes for 21.  3rd and 3, we can’t stop the pass again to the near sideline, 7 yards, 1st down.  Hoosiers at the Iowa 49.

Chappell now tries the other side, but same result – snap ball, throw it, gain 6 yards.  He hands the ball off on 2nd down, but Morris has the play sniffed out, and he wraps up the tailback for no gain.  3rd and 4, clock at 3:56, the Hoosiers call timeout to discuss their strategy – but they also give our defense a moment to regroup.

Coming out of the break the Iowa players had to figure what was coming.  And they did – both corners were in tight at the snap, and Chappell was unable to connect on the quick strike to the left.  4th down, all the Indiana players and fans want to go for it, but Lynch makes the call, and the Hoosier punting unit took the field.  The punt lands at the 12, and Colin is able to dance around a bit, but never head upfield.  Iowa ball at the 12, clock at 3:42.

And now, some 4th quarter magic.  Ricky back, the line, solid.  He floats a pass to the far sideline, right there in that soft spot in the zone coverage, he has DJK open, caught!  22 yards. Stanzi, back again, he fires for DJK on the other side of the field, it’s caught, 15 yards, 1st down Iowa at the 48.  Here we come!

By now, the Indiana defensive line seems gassed.  Ricky drops back, and as he gets back to his pocket, he heaves a pump fake downfield, to the right – right as Marvin has seemed to go into an out pattern – and for just a second, the safety bites.  But Marvin isn’t running an out route, he is cutting back inside to the post – and that hesitation by the safety has giving Marvin about 3 steps.  Ricky doesn’t float this one, he fires it downfield and hits McNutt in stride at the 20, and it’s a footrace! 15, 10, 5 touchdown Iowa!  There it is, the key, strike from outside the red zone!  Hawks go for 2, but Stanzi’s pass is knocked down.  Iowa leads, 18-13.  Can the defense find the strength to end this now? 

The special teams once again make it more of a challenge – Meyer’s kick lands at the 13, and is carried out to the Hoosier 41.  Chappell takes the field with 2:50 on the clock, and needing a touchdown.

Let’s guess…passes coming our way.  Left side, 5 yards, Hyde with the stop.  They try over the middle again, having not learned much from previous attempts, Morris knocks it down.  3rd and 5.   On this play, Iowa uses 3 down linemen and drops 8, but even then, they can’t contain the underneath pass for 6 yards and a Hoosier 1st down.  Now Chappell goes a bit deeper, and he connects on a 14 yard pass to the far sideline.  1st down Hoosiers at the Iowa 34. 

This time, Chappell doesn’t throw the ball immediately, he drops back, and he gets drilled by Daniels as he releases a pass to the near pylon – the receiver is there, but he can’t get through the double coverage to the ball.  2nd down, the Iowa line surges forward on the snap, but its’ a combo dump off screen pass, it seems at first to have room, but the Hawks clog it up for a 6 yard gain.  3rd and 4 from the 28, it seems the Hawks have the quick outs covered, so Chappell comes back over the middle – this time the linebackers can’t get to the ball, and the pass is good for 10 yards, to the Iowa 18.

They would go no further.  On 1st down, Chappell has barely gotten back to his spot when Clayborn arrives, and he clobbers the quarterback, who was able to throw the ball away.  The clock at 45 seconds. 

2nd down, Chappell fires a pass to the goal line, but the Hawks have it well covered, and the only one close to catching it is Greenwood, who sees the hot shot fly right through his hands. 

3rd down, Chappell goes back to what he does best, but this quick pass left is too high and behind the wideout – no good.  4th down, 35 seconds left, and the Hoosiers take a timeout to discuss.

As the Hoosiers line up, Chappell is in the shotgun, with a tailback beside him to the left.  At the snap, the Iowa line gets great push, and the pocket starts to collapse immediately – so much so that Chappell can’t step forward into his throw, he has to loft it up there off his back foot.  As the ball arrives at the end zone, his leading receiver Belcher has to leap to make the catch – but then, as he brings it down into his chest, the ball starts to move – and Greenwood arrives, and he doesn’t plow into the guy, but he kind of bumps into Belcher as he lands – and then as he falls to the ground, the ball falls to the turf!  The stadium is roaring with joy but they have not had the up close view that we had on the tv.  The back judge was right there, and the call immediate – incomplete.  As the camera pans back you see the Iowa players jumping up and down on the sideline, and sure enough, the review that comes is quick and precise, pass no good!

A victory formation snap does it, and some chippiness ensues after the pile up, but the clock runs out on the Hoosiers, who continue to look for their 1st Big Ten win this season.  Not pretty, but the Hawkeyes keep pace in the Big Ten title chase, and also give their head man his 100th victory as a head coach. 

Sure enough, Coker got the start, and he hit the century mark, 22 carries for 129 yards, that’s 5.9 a carry with a long of 20.  Rogers got 9 yards on his two carries; everyone else carrying the ball was a wideout or Stanzi scramble.

Ricky, 22/33 for 290, with the one pick and one td.  He now has 20 touchdown passes this season, leaving him 7 short with 3 games to play for the Iowa record.  DJK and McNutt with 6 catches each, with Marvin racking up 126 yards for a cool 21.0 per snag. 

The defense did allow Chappell to complete 27 passes, for 220 yards.  That’s 4.8 per catch.  Bend don’t break defense, that’s what it means.

For his 4 for 5 field goal effort, Michael Meyer is your Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.  And for a bit of historical perspective, Nate Kaeding went 14 for 22 his freshman year.

So we survived, in some ways it was probably good to have a close game, one that gave high pressure experience to the young starters, and a game that should have every player ready to go mentally for the next one.

And we should be even stronger for that next one.  Here is a nice oddity for games in November, but we have players returning from injury that will make us better.  Adam is practicing and is good to go - a very nice, tough, one two punch with Coker.  It sounds like Tarpinian is now all the way back, and now we learn that Norm might even be able to make the trip to Chicago this weekend.  Wildcats – we have some serious payback to bring with us.  You better be ready.

This Week: Northwestern

The Wildcats were riding high with their 5-0 start, but against the likes of Vanderbilt, Rice, and the Golden Rodents, it didn’t prepare them well for the Big Ten season.  They fell in close games against Purdue and the Spartans before topping Indiana two weeks ago.

Last Saturday, they were up against the Lions in their quest to give Paterno his 400th win. And things started very well for the Cats, as they scored a td with about a minute left in the 2nd, and were up 21-0 - in Happy Valley.

On the ensuing kickoff, State was called for holding, so they got the ball back at the own 9 with 50 seconds left.  Run the ball, kill the clock, and regroup in the 2nd half.

Nope – the Lion’s sophomore quarterback engineered a 9-play drive that scored a td with 3 seconds left.  That began a run of 5 consecutive possessions for the Lions that resulted in touchdowns and a 35-21 lead, which they would defend and win by that score.

That sophomore QB, McGloin had seen considerable action in exactly 1.5 games before blowing up against the Wildcats.  That leads us to the first stat of note this week – that Northwestern is ranked 10th in the Big Ten and 100th in the nation in pass defense.  They are better than – Michigan.

They are a bit better in the rushing defense, giving up 141 per game, which has them middle of the pack in the conference.  But in losses to the Boilermakers and Nittany Lions, Northwestern gave up over 230 yards on the ground in each.  So, they can be exposed, and if we can get the running game going, our line should be able to wear down the Cats up front as the game moves on.

As you might expect, Stanzi has had this game circled on his calendar for 12 months.  He certainly was enjoying how things were going last year, with 10 points on two possessions, before being knocked out of the game and regular season on a play that should have resulted in a personal foul and no Northwestern touchdown. 

On the flip side, so begins a two week stretch where we face quarterbacks who would, if it were up to them, rather run the ball all game, and only pass it once in a while.

This week, it’s junior QB Dan Persa.  The Wildcat signal caller runs the hurry up/shotgun/option offense with pretty good efficiency.  It makes sense that he would be the passing leader  - but he also leads the team in rushing yards, having racked up 469 and 8 touchdowns on the ground.  Their top tailback Trumpy has 350 yards to date.  So, the real threat on the ground is the QB.  In the open field, he is quite dangerous, with very good running skills, and deceptively quick speed.

Of course, what makes this type of attack most threatening is the QB’s ability to fake the run and toss the ball downfield as you creep up to slow down the option attack.  When he does this, he will target Ebert, who leads the team with 48 catches and 7 tds.  Persa is up there at #11 nationally for passing efficiency, while Stanzi is #3 after the Hoosier game.  With the ball in his hands as often as it is, Persa is vulnerable to sacks – he is on pace to be dropped 40 times this season.  Daniels, Clayborn, keep him in the box, and go get him.

The Wildcats have also lost 8 fumbles, dead last in the conference.  Regardless of who has the ball, putting solid hits on them will be important.  Linebackers, safeties, be ready to bring the pain.

The offense has got to win the time of possession battle, so the defense has the energy to contain this more often than not.  They are capable of doing this, and as noted above, our ability to run the ball should enable the Hawkeyes to execute some long drives and help the defense when they take the field.

We need to protect the ball – in our back to back losses to the Cats, we have had 4 and 5 turnovers.  Straight up, they can’t beat us.  Make mistakes, they can.

Worried about our kicking game?  Northwestern’s senior kicker Demos has made 12 and missed 6 field goals so far.  And he has missed 5 (five) extra points (1 blocked).  This is not a team with an explosive kickoff returner, so as long as we don’t screw things up in our coverage, we should be able to keep them right at their 20 yard average.  

The Wildcats are probably feeling pretty good about having us come in this week.  I’m sure they are thinking that we are looking ahead to Ohio State, the prospects of ESPN Game Day in Iowa City, etc.  Sadly for them, if the Indiana game taught us anything, it’s to put full attention on Northwestern, and in light of the recent series results, that is not a lesson the Hawkeyes needed to learn anyway. 

In other news, as the calendar moves on, so does the Hawkeye sports calendar.  The wrestling team is gearing up for a run at NCAA title #4 (consecutive), little reason to think Brands can’t will them to do it.  And of course there is – Hawkeye Basketball.

The ladies are picked to make a run at the Big Ten title, and considering how close they came last year on a squad decimated by injuries, they surely have the determination and talent to get there. 

The Fran McCaffery era began with a bang – sure, it was just an exhibition against the University of Illinois – Springfield, but any time an Iowa team puts up 111 points it’s newsworthy.  The season opens up for real this Sunday, at 3:01 eastern, on the Big Ten Network.  Here in NYC, the Hawkeye Hoops game watches will resume for the in-state games in December.

The men are not picked to make a run at the Big Ten title; they are in fact picked 11th by the media.  Fine, nowhere to go but up.

But that’s on Sunday, and we have football on Saturday.  The Wildcats have been unable to finish some close games this year, and that has to be wearing on them if they don’t have big leads late in the second half.  As long as we don’t make mistakes, they shouldn’t have one.  I am expecting the Hawks to start quickly this week, with perhaps a bit of a Northwestern response, but then Iowa should pull away with our superior running game in the 2nd half.  I think the combined rushing efforts could top the 180 mark, and if we can do that, the play action passing attack will be open for Stanzi all day.  Too much balance for the Iowa offense means the Iowa defense can come up with stops.  The players care about this one.  Hawkeyes 34, Cats 20.



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