September 22, 2011

The Eternal Season - Week 4 Hawkeye Game Notes

Iowa’s Record: 2-1
Iowa’s Rankings
USA Today:

2011 Iowa Football Schedule (times eastern)

9/03/11 Tennessee Tech WIN 34-7
9/10/11 @ Iowa State Loss 44-41 3OT
9/17/11 Pittsburgh WIN 31-27
9/24/11 Louisiana-Monroe 12:00 pm, BTN
10/01/11 Bye Week
10/08/11 @ Penn State TBD
10/15/11 Northwestern 7:00 pm, BTN
10/22/11 Indiana 12:00 pm, TBD
10/29/11 @ Minnesota TBD
11/05/11 Michigan TBD
11/12/11 Michigan State TBD
11/19/11 @ Purdue TBD
11/25/11 @ Nebraska 12:00 pm, ABC

Scouting Next Opponent:
Sep. 24 Eastern Michigan @ Penn State, 12:00 pm ESPN2
Oct. 1 Penn State @ Indiana, 12:00 pm ESPNU

September 24th, 2011: Iowa Hawkeyes v. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 1-2, 0-0 Sun Belt
Prior Games: 0
Last Game:

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +5
Big Ten #1, NCAA #8

Interception Battle:
Linebackers: 1
Secondary: 3

Current Line: Iowa -17.5

2011 Key Stats
Scoring Defense 26.0, Pass Def 240.0, Rush Def 157.0, Interceptions 4, Total Defense 397.0.5
Big Ten                 #10                     #11                         #9                  #2 tie                         #11
NCAA                   #72                     #82                         #76                #18 tie                       #88

Scoring Offense 35.3, Pass Offense 284.0, Rush Offense 127.3, Total Offense 411.3
Big Ten                #4 tie                       #1                                #11                                  #6
NCAA                  #40                          #29                               #82                                #59

Depth Chart for this week:
Last Week – Pitt:

Hello again Hawkeye friends!  After watching football for as many years as I have, you tend to find yourself thinking you have seen just about everything.  That after seeing a game for a couple hours, you know how it will end.  It’s a good thing this is college football, with new players every year, players wanting to make their memories when their moment arrives.  So it was, after about 47 minutes of game action last week.

It started out well enough, an overcast kind of day in Iowa City, which makes football players happy to not see the burning sun overhead.  The question then, could the Iowa team come out swinging, looking to put the loss to the Clones firmly in the rear view mirror?  A more normal week from the start, Pitt wins the toss, and defers, and the Hawkeyes return team took the field.

Right away, we see some changes on the field, as Bernstine drops back with Davis, and the ball finds Jordan at the 4, and he races out to the 32.  Glad to have him back.

How bout some running game to get things going?  Nope, a play action pass freezes the Panthers and they allow Herman to be alone on the near sideline, James floats it to him, caught, 26 yards! 

James rolls to his right on the next snap, but this pass to Davis is too high and out of bounds.  Now we get Marcus into the game, and he totes it left, 7 yards, all good, 3rd and 3. 

Oh, wait, flags.  As the play has ended, Zusevics pushes a Pitt defender to the ground, that’s a personal foul, and because the play had ended, it’s now 3rd and 18, not 2nd and 18. James drops back, finds nothing, and is then hit as he tries to run – he loses the ball, but Tobin falls on it, so the Hawks are able to punt.  The kick, from the 44, is caught at the 16, and Morris makes the tackle at the 25.  Iowa Defense, do your thing.

Pitt takes the field in their attaching quick snap offense, and hand the ball to Graham, who gets 4 yards, and is then dropped by Bernstine.  Immediately, we see some of the changes Norm has made, with Jordan and Tanner Miller at safety, and Hyde back in his corner spot. 

2nd and 6, the Pitt QB Sunseri rolls right, but his quick pass is dropped.  The quick snap on 3rd down has him back, looking right, and he never sees Alvis drilling him from behind, the ball is out, and Binns falls on it!  Iowa ball at the Pitt 26!

Coker starts with it, but Pitt is ready, and stuffs him for no gain.  2nd down, James drops back and immediately looks left – he fires it down the far hash, for Davis, I think, regardless Pitt has the area blanketed, and they pick it off at the 15 and take it out to the 40. 

James was going to toss an interception sooner or later; you just don’t want to see them happen like that.  Hawks, amped up, but making mistakes.

Pitt starts with a handoff to Graham, but Binns meets him at the line and drops him for nothing.  The QB tries a quick pass right – Binns reaches up, and knocks it to the turf.  3rd and 10, the pressure is there, but Sunseri is able to dump it off over the middle to Graham, and he falls down after 11 yards – 1st down Pitt.

Graham now gets a handoff and heads right, for 4 yards.  Back to the air for the Panthers, but the quick pass only nets 4, so here is another 3rd down, the Iowa fans rise and Kinnick comes to life.

On the snap, Sunseri quick-pitches the ball, right, to Graham – it looks like he has plenty of room, but then, from the back, Bernstine flashes into the backfield and drops the Pitt tailback for a 3 yard loss.  Kinnick erupts.

Pitt lines up like they are going to go for it, but then Sunseri steps back about 7 yards behind the line, and he pooch punts it down inside the 10, but the ball rolls into the end zone for the touchback.  Haven’t seen a QB do that in a while.

Hawkeye offense, at the 20.  James fakes the handoff and rolls right, he fires a strike to Herman, caught, 11 yards, 1st down! Wait – flags. Debry, holding, 1st and 20.  We never see the replay of the penalty, the first of several goofs by the ESPN2 crew.

Anyway, two Coker runs gain 5 yards each, so the Hawks faced 3rd and 10 from the 20.  James is back and he hits Marvin over the middle – but he gets drilled after making the catch, and falls down after 9 yards – 4th and 1.  No QB sneak on this end of the field, Guthrie boots a 50 yarder to the Pitt 21, fair catch.

Pitt starts with a QB roll out to the right, and he hits his tight end, 13 yards, 1st down.  On the next play, Sunseri is in the shotgun with Graham next to him – at the snap, he puts the ball into his tailbacks belly, but then he sees Prater coming in on the play, so he pulls the ball back out and floats it to a wide open Street who makes the catch, and beats Miller to the corner, touchdown Pitt, 7-0.  66 yards.  The Iowa pass defense a victim of the option running game.

Just for fun, on kickoffs I always freeze-frame the moment the ball is struck – Pitt has two guys offsides, but no flags fly.  It lands at the 5, and Jordan is downed at the 22.

James back, finds nothing, so he hits Marcus in the flat – he make a great one-handed snag, but is then dropped for only 3 yards.  Coker now on a carry, he seems to hop out of a tackle, but is then hit, only 2 yards.  3rd and 5, James is in the shotgun, he fires a pass over the middle, but Pitt knocks it down at the line.  Guthrie boots a 48-yard punt, which is caught at the Pitt 25, no, dropped on the hit, fumble! But Iowa can’t fall on it, Pitt recovers at the 19.

On 1st down, Pitt brings a receiver from the far side in motion, an end-around, the he gets the handoff right at the snap, then gets the near corner turned, 15 yards.  Graham now, 7 to the right.  Sunseri rolls right, the pressure comes, he escapes, but is then tackled after a 2 yard gain.  3rd and 1.  The Kinnick faithful rise again.

Graham gets the handoff and heads straight up the middle – he is hit, but falls across the line, 1st down Pitt.  The Hawkeye defense seems to relax at this point, as Graham gets the ball again, and he spins out of a tackle right at the line, and before the Hawks can stop him, he has raced 24 yards to the Iowa 29.

Sunseri again rolls right, but his pass is out of bounds. 2nd down, he finds nothing cornfield, so he dumps it to Graham over the middle, he makes the catch, but Morris hits him immediately, so the gain is stopped after 9 – 3rd and 1.  Iowa fans in the stadium and bars nationwide ramp up the volume once again, and Sunseri ends up changing the play at the line – and I don’t think all his linemen heard it, as at the snap, Graham gets the handoff, but Binns has exploded through the line – untouched – and he throws the tailback to the ground for a 3 yard loss.  4th and 4, Pitt brings in the previously terrible field goal team, and he splits the uprights, 10-0 Pitt.  The Hawkeyes need to wake up.

The kick once again comes to Jordan, he makes the snag at the 6, and heads up the near hash – 20, 30, spins out of a tackle, 40, 50, runs through two more diving attempts, 45, 40, 35 30!  They finally get him down, but as Kinnick rejoices another flag flies, and the Hawks have been called for a block in the back.  ESPN2 never shows us the penalty – in light of some of the other calls made Saturday, we are left to wonder.

So, ball now at the 10, we start with two Coker runs, both net 5, 1st down Iowa.  Once again, Marcus, to the left, gets the corner, 7 yards!  But then he tries back to the right side, and they stop him for no gain. 3rd and 3, James drops back, and fires a quick strike to Marvin, he now makes a spectacular one handed grab and is brought down just over the yellow line, 1st down Iowa!

On the next play, Marvin is on the left side of the formation – at the snap, James drops back, surveys, he finds Marvin on the crossing route, you can’t cover Marvin on crossing routes – he hits him in stride at the 44, McNutt turns up field, 50, 40, 30, down at the 27!  43 yards!  Finally, the response is coming.

Marcus, up the middle for 3.  James now, fires a pass to the near flat, it looks good at first, but the replay shows it bounced.  3rd and 7, James is in the shotgun, he quickly comes back to the right and fires for Davis – it’s a bit high, but he leaps and makes the catch, and falls down after an 13 yard gain, 1st down Iowa at the Pitt 11!

Pitt calls timeout, and the Hawks then run Marcus up the middle – he gets 3 yards, but the yellow hankies fly again, Ferentz, holding.  The Hawkeye offense now seems stunned, another mistake at a critical time.  They barely notice as James drops back and a Panther comes in untouched to drop him for a 7 yard loss.  On this, the 2nd and 27, the blocking is better, James has time to find Davis for 10 yards, but as the play ends, another flag flies.

And – it’s on Pitt!  After James released the pass, one of the Pitt linemen knocked him to the turf, late hit on the QB, 15 yards, Iowa 1st and goal from the 10!

Coker tries the left side, he gets nothing.  2nd down, he starts that way, but then, cuts it back inside, where he meets a safety – Marcus puts his helmet into the guys chest and pushes him back for another 4 yards, it’s a 6 yard gain!  3rd and goal from the 4!

James drops back and immediately floats one for Marvin on the near side – he reaches up, and makes the catch, but the pass was as tad too high, he is out of bounds, no good.  Meyer comes in and boots the 22 yard field goal, 10-3 is the score.  Another mistake, one that cost us 4 points.

Meyer’s kick lands at the 2, and the Hawks get him down at the 26.

Pitt starts with a pass, far side, 7 yards.  Graham, a run near side, 4 yards, 1st down.  Graham again, 2 yards.  Sunseri back, the pressure has him trapped – no, he escapes, gets across the line, and scrambles for 24.  1st down Pitt, Iowa 29.

Sunseri tries a QB keeper, but he should have handed it off, Morris drills him for just 1 yard.  On 2nd down, he gets greedy, and tries floating a pass to the far pylon – but he puts too much air under it, and as the ball lands, Hyde is there to grab it and kill the Pitt threat at the Iowa 2!!!  That’s the Iowa bend don’t break defense!  Hawkeye ball, how bout a 98 yard drive to tie this thing up?!

Coker starts by breaking a tackle to gain 5.  James, drops back, fires for Herman, pass caught, 16 yards, 1st down.  But the next pass is for Marvin and it’s nearly picked, followed by a 4 yard Coker run, and on 3rd and 6, James can’t connect with Davis, so the drive dies at the Iowa 31, and the punt lands at the Pitt 24, fair catch.

In this drive, Pitt tries the end around handoff again, but Iowa sniffs it out and Miller hits the wideout in the backfield to lose 3 yards -  and the ball, but Pitt recovers the fumble.  Their 3rd down pass is short and the tackle made, so Pitt lines up to punt, and their punter promptly shanks the kick, it rolls out of bounds at the Iowa 47.  A 20 yard punt, clock at 2:57 of the 2nd.  Come on Hawks, tie this up!

James back, he throws for Marvin, caught, 11 yards.  Coker now, but the middle gives only 1.  James has to step out of a sack on the next snap and throw the ball away, so the Hawks quickly face a 3rd and 9.  Pitt blitzes on the snap, but James gets it out and hits Marvin over the middle – caught, 9 yards, 1st down Iowa at the Pitt 30!

As the Hawks line up, another flag flies, false start Tobin, 1st and 15.

The Hawks now try a screen to Coker – but Pitt blows it up and Marcus loses 3 yards.  2nd and 18.

Hawks line up, James is making his line reads, and Herman just takes off.  Flag, false start.  2nd and 23.

James back, and the Pitt pass defense allows Davis some space, James finds him, 20 yards, 3rd and 3!  Iowa calls timeout, the clock at 42 seconds.

Guess Pitt didn’t like the formation the Hawks were in, so they call timeout.

Pitt blitzes at the snap, but James gets away the quick slant to Marvin, and the ball is tipped and flies up in the air, and several players have a shot at it, but no one gets it. 4th down, Meyer comes in to boot the 40 field goal – it has plenty of distance, but it’s hooking left – it hits the left upright, and this time, it does not go through.  Still 10-3 Pitt, in a half like the Hawkeyes have just played, you would figure Meyer would miss his first kick of the season.  Pitts kneels down, and the 1st half ends.  As bad as the Hawks have looked, it’s just a one play game. 

Which, if you have been watching, would seem to be a game in Pittsburgh.  Let’s see, ESPN2 has showed us a visual of all the great tailbacks that Pitt has had – we have seen a graphic of how many sacks, 3 and outs, etc the Pitt defense wants to get per game.  I guess we finally realize the game is in Iowa City, as when the halftime ends, they show the statue of Nile, and Bellotti takes a moment to talk about the Heisman Trophy winner and his ultimate sacrifice for the Nation.  Ok, so the game is Iowa City.  No halftime stats from ESPN2.

Back to our regular weekly 2nd half start, where the Hawks getting a 3 and out on Pitt would be a great result.  Can’t really be any worse than we were in the 1st – or so we thought.

The 3rd quarter starts with Meyer bouncing the kick at the Pitt 20 – and then out of bounds.  Flag, Pitt ball at the 40.  Ohhh boy.

The drive stats with the right side of the Pitt line clearly jumping early, but no flag flies, and Graham gets 4 yards up the middle.  2nd  down, Sunseri flips a pass right to his tight end  - he makes the catch and steps across the line, but then as he gets hit, the ball pops out, and rolls out of bounds one yard behind the yellow stripe. 3rd and 1 – Pitt ties Graham right up the middle, and the Iowa front slams the door shut so he gets nothing and likes it.  Pitt again lines up as if to go for it, but Sunseri steps back, and pooches another kick, that lands at the 10, and rolls into the end zone just ahead of the Pitt player trying to down it.  The Iowa defense got the 3 and out – now, the offense needs to respond by consolidating the break.

But they can’t, the 3rd down pass to Derby, the Elder, is broken up.  The Iowa punt sails to the 28, and a flag flies on the return.  It’s holding Pitt, but then as ESPN2 starts the commercial break, we see the Kirk has challenged the spot.  The officials screwed up and marked the penalty from where the play ended – but the hold occurred while the kick was in the air.  So the penalty had to be marked from where the ball was caught – Pitt ball at the 18.

This Pitt drive featured the near sack by Binns that had Sunseri trying to throw away the ball after his knee was down.  Most importantly, it was another 3 and out.  Iowa ball at the 41 after the punt.

The Hawks start with Coker heading left, he cuts it back inside for 2.  James now drops back and hits Davis on the near side, 11 yards, 1st down Iowa.  Marcus now, he heads right, and this time he runs right through weak arm tackles and gets the corner turned, 14 yards, 1st down Iowa at the Pitt 33!

But the next play is the pass in the flat that is nearly a pick-six for Pitt.  Coker gets 1 yard on 2nd down, and the 3rd down pass to Marvin is into double coverage and no good.  Meyer comes in to attempt the 50 yard kick – once again it has plenty of leg, but he has over compensated for the last kick, and it misses wide right – barely.  Still 10-3. 

Pitt, with the ball at the 33, tosses a quick strike for 3 yards.  Sunseri then comes under immediate pressure from Binns, but he escapes, though only nets 2 yards on his run. 3rd and 5, the fans again implore the defense to make the stop, but the quick pass gets 6 and another Pitt 1st down.  Graham gets another carry and gets 5.  Sunseri now fakes the handoff and takes off himself, he gets 8 before his ‘slide’, which wasn’t really a slide, and Hyde gets flagged from coming in too late on the tackle.  15 yards, Pitt ball at the Iowa 30.  Another critical mistake, and they pay for it immediately.

The Hawks again are not ready for the Pitt trick play.  At the line, Pitt has put a wideout on the near side that was a high school quarterback.  He went in motion toward the line, and at the snap, Sunseri handed the ball to Graham, who then flipped the ball to this wideout who came around behind him – but instead of running, he then fired the ball to the far sideline, where another wideout was all alone – he made the catch at the 6 and stepped into the end zone, and the Hawks were down 17-3. 

Ok offense, now would be the time.

Things start ominously as Jordan gets the ball at the goal line, but only gets out to the 15.  James hits Marvin for 15 to start the drive, but then once again, as he gets back after the snap, another Panther is right on top of him, sack, a loss of 7 yards.  2nd and 17, James tries for McNutt on the far side – the pass is behind him, no good.  3rd and 17, and then James is again hit and dropped as the Iowa line simply took a series off.  4th and 25, the punt comes from the Iowa 15 and rolls dead at the Pitt 45 – where once again, a flag flies.  Holding, a block in the back?  No – one of the Iowa players ran into a Pitt player who was trying to get out of the way of the rolling ball.  The Hawk was trying to down the ball – it was, a football play.  Not to the officials, who tossed in 15 yards for the flag, and Pitt was now at the Iowa 39.

Sunseri rolls right; his pass to the sideline is overshot, no good.  Another pass to the right is low – it’s caught, but only gains a yard.  3rd and 9, we need this stop defense!

But we don’t get it –this pass is deep, and right on the money, over the cornerback, under the safety, and caught at the Iowa 10, Miller prevents the TD by knocking the guy out of bounds at the 5.  Kinnick is now pretty silent as Pitt lines up for the 1st and goal.

Pitt tries another end around, from the far side this time, and the officials totally miss the fact that Jordan had it completely blown up, only to be tackled by an offensive lineman so he can’t make the play – the rest of the Iowa defense does, and they get it stopped after just one yard.  A cascade of boos rains down, and it’s not directed at the Hawkeyes, but the crew in the black and white stripes.  The next play is a fake to Graham, and then a pass to the tight end, who simply stepped into the end zone, and turned around – caught, touchdown Pitt, the kick, good, and the Hawks were down 24-7, and apparently, left for dead, with the clock at 3:11 of the 3rd.

But then, Pitt makes a mental error, and their kicker boots the kickoff out of bounds, Iowa ball at the 40!

KOK attacks. James drops back, and floats a mid-deep ball to the near sideline, aiming for Davis – he leaps, makes the catch, comes down with both feet in bounds, falls, his body in bounds, and rolls out with the Pitt defender on top of him – the play is clearly over when that defender knocks the ball out of Davis’s hand.  The side judge who came running in had the play a catch at first – but then his mind apparently leaves him, and he calls it no good as he gets to the downed players.  Even the ESPN2 crew, who had benefit of seeing the replay, can’t seem to understand the basic elements of football.  It’s reviewed, and of course, overturned, a catch, 22 yards, Hawkeye ball at the Pitt 39.

James now, a spark, and ready to attack downfield.

Next, play action, he rises and throws a frozen rope to KMM, caught, 20 yards, 1st down Hawkeyes.

James drops back again, and this time, finds Davis running a square in – the pass, caught, 13 yards, 1st and goal from the 5!

Freshman tailback Damon Bullock, #32, then gets a carry and heads right up the middle –he is hit at about the 1.5, he falls, and the ball cross the goal line as he hits the ground.  No, not to be, a td carry on his first collegiate attempt, it’s marked at the 1, and James executes another perfect QB sneak, and once again our first touchdown of the day is from our pro-style passing QB running the ball.  Regardless, a touchdown, 24-10, clock at 1:16 of the 3rd.  In regards to my questioning last week, yes, we can run a two-minutes offense.  Now, we needed a stop.

The Meyer kick lands at the 10 and is downed at the 32.  The ESPN2 crew is wondering if a team that tries to snap the ball in 18 seconds can play the clock killing game in the 4th quarter.  They could not.

But this drive nearly makes that point moot.  Graham starts with a 3 yard run.  Then a medium pass down the far side is good, and with that, 20 more yards, Pitt ball at the Iowa 45.

The 3rd quarter ends with the zebras failing to catch Pitt false starting AGAIN, before Graham takes the carry 4 yards. 

The 4th starts with Graham catching a bailout pass in the backfield, but he gets 10 yards out of it for another Pitt 1st down.  He gets a carry, goes left, 4 yards.  Now Sunseri keeps the ball and heads the same way, 8 more yards.  Now at the Hawkeye 19, Sunseri has time to find his tight end; he makes the catch at the 5, and is dropped at the 3.  The Iowa Defense, at the edge of the cliff – only one way to go from here.

1st down, Sunseri tries a fade route to the far side, it’s overshot, no good. 

2nd down, he pitches it to Graham, but the Hawkeye pursuit is there, and Morris smacks him as he tries to cut it back inside – no gain.

3rd down, Sunseri is in the shotgun, and it seems the snap comes a bit before he wants it – he can’t grab it, and he falls on the ball as the Iowa D-line falls on top of him.  A loss of 4 yards, 4th and goal from the 7.

The Pitt field goal team comes in, and once again, looks just fine, as it sails through and pushes the lead back to three possessions , 27-10.  Clock, 12:09 of the 4th.  Little did the Panthers know – their scoring, done.  And their defense – gassed.

The Pitt kick now finds Davis, he gets it at the 15, and makes his way out to the 27.  The drive starts with James under center, as he drops back and fires down the far hash to hit Derby, the Elder, for 20 yards.

Now James hurries everyone to the line, and sets into the shotgun.  Fire away, young Hawkeye!

Knowing Pitt is thinking this, he hands it to Coker, he gets 3 yards.  But back to the passing game, James fires for Marvin – a bit high, but he leaps to make the snag, 16 more yards, 1st down Iowa at the Pitt 34!

James now rolls out to his right, he doesn’t have anything down field, so he dumps it to Marcus, 3 yards.  On 2nd down, he again doesn’t like what he has deep, but this time Marcus is about 10 yards in front of him – Coker makes the catch, is dropped, 1st down Iowa at the Pitt 22.  The Panthers call timeout.

The brief break isn’t enough for the Pit defense.  James finds Davis over the middle, 8 yards, 2nd and 2 from the Pitt 14.

And then, ESPN2 cuts away to show us the Auburn-Clemson game, AND THEY DON’T GET BACK TO IOWA CITY IN TIME TO SEE THE PLAY START!  We just see Davis laying out to catch the pass and landing in the end zone, touchdown Iowa, 27-17!  7 plays, 73 yards, 2:14 off the clock!  Yes, we can!  Come on defense!!!

It starts with the Meyer kickoff, it lands at the 3, and then the Pitt returner breaks a couple tackles and gets all the way out to the 37.  What does it take to get all 3 of our units to play well together???

Sunseri, a pass, far side, good, 7 yards.  Graham goes up the middle, 10 more yards.  Pitt tries a QB keeper, but Binns kills it, only 1 yard. Graham up the middle again, 5 yards, 3rd and 4 from the Iowa 36.

Sunseri -again, greedy.  The 3rd down pass is to the far side of the end zone, and no good.  Pitt lines up and does go for it on 4th down, and as he rolls right his tight end is open, but the pass sails way above his head and out of bounds.  Iowa ball at the 36, clock 7:56.

James is still in the shotgun, he fires for KMM, it’s caught, 9 yards.  James now pumps right and tries to go deep to Marvin on the left, but the pass is over his head and no good.  3rd and 1, James runs the QB sneak to get the 1st down and stop the clock. 

James tries Davis on the near side, the pass is behind him, and no good. 2nd down, he hits Davis over the middle for 6 yards, 3rd and 4 from the Pitt 46. 

As James drops back, he has KMM breaking free on the far side – the pass is there, but no good, but then, a flag flies, and it’s now Pitt falling apart, pass interference, the defender grabbed KMM’s jersey when he knew he was beat deep.  1st down Iowa, Pitt 40! But on the play, McNutt is down – there is an injury timeout, but as the game resumes, we see he is standing on the sideline, waiting to get back in.  Whew.

Back to the action, James fires a quick pass to Davis, that gains 8 yards, but then he spins out of the tackle and picks up 7 more, 1st down Iowa, at the Pitt 25!

James drops back, he looks quickly left, but then comes back right and fires a pass down the far hash – where KMM has gotten behind the secondary, and the ball finds him as he leaps into the end zone and comes down with the catch!  TOUCHDOWN IOWA!!! 25 yards, 27-24, here we come Pitt!  The drive, 7 plays, 64 yards, 1:37 off the clock! 

Defense, your time has come.

The kick, to the 9, and this time the Iowa coverage team is there, and the runner is felled at the 20.

Kinnick is a raging cauldron of noise as Pitt takes the field.  The Iowa bench is waving their arms, trying to get the crowd even louder.  And down on the field, the Iowa D line seems to be pawing at the dirt like a bull preparing to make his charge.

1st down, the safe play, and handoff to Graham, he gets 3 yards before about 5 Hawkeyes bring him down.

2nd down, the option fake to Graham, Sunseri steps away with the ball, he tries a pump fake right in front of Daniels, but he doesn’t bite, and he drills the Pitt QB for a sack and loss of 6 yards!!!

3rd down, 13 yards to go, through the tv, it seems Kinnick is about to crumble from the noise!  The pass is a dump off to Graham; he makes the catch, but is then dropped 5 yards short of the yellow line.  4th down, and the Pitt punt team takes the field! 

This, one of the better kicks, but still only 39 yards, and downed at the Iowa 36.  Clock 4:22.

James has to come underneath to Marcus on the 1st down; he makes the catch, 2 yards.  2nd down, he fires for McNutt in traffic, but it’s caught, 7 yards, 3rd and 1.

Another QB sneak gains the 1st down and the stopped clock, for a moment.  James hits Derby, the Elder, for 6, and then his pass to the near side floated out of bounds, 3rd and 4 from the Pitt 48.

James now tries a medium length pass down the far side – and the ball falls to the turf, but once again, a flag flies – and it’s holding, Pittsburgh, for again grabbing KMM.  That’s a 1st down at the Pitt 37!

James drops back, finds nothing, and begins the move forward – he breaks a tackle at the line, and then gets 15 yards before going down!  1st down Iowa, at the Pitt 22!

Kinnick, raging, James drops back, and quickly fires the ball just outside the far hash, the ball is coming down at the goal line, and time seems to stop as the Pitt defender leaped to knock it down – AND MISSES!  BUT BEHIND HIM, KEOVNTE MARTIN-MANLEY DOES NOT!  He cradles the ball into his arms and falls into the end zone, TOUCHDOWN IOWA, 31-27 HAWKS, the drive, 7 plays, 64 yards, 1:31 off the clock!  Yes Virginia, we can run the two-minute offense!!!! 

Iowa Defense, finish them!

Meyer’s kick lands at the two, and this time, the Iowa coverage team makes no mistake, and slams into the Pitt man at the 10.  Kinnick blows up.  Clock, 2:51.

Pitt, needing a touchdown, comes out and plays things safe.

A pass, far side, but underneath.  6 yards.  Safe.

Another, far side, safe. 5 yards, 1st down.

A pass to Graham over the middle, also safe, 7 yards.

Another short pass, far side, 4 yards.  1st down.  Safe.

One more, far side, 4 yards.  Safe.

But then – Sunseri once again gets a little too greedy.  All of the short passes have been in front of Hyde – and the Pitt QB thinks he has lured him in enough.

At the snap, he sort of pump fakes the ball, but then floats it mid-depth down the far side – where Hyde has been waiting, knowing he has the safety help over top, and he undercuts the wideout, leaps, and snags the falling pass, and then falls to the ground, INTERCEPTION!!!  Nearby, the still annoyingly white water tower crashes to the ground, a victim of all the noise vibrations from nearby Kinnick Stadium.

Ok, that didn’t really happen, and we are still left hoping for a black water tower with a gold Tiger Hawk, while the Iowa offense had another 1:41 to kill on the clock.

Coker, up the middle, no gain, Pitt timeout.  Their last.

Coker, 7 yards.  Clock continues to run.

Coker, 2 yards, 3rd and 1, the clock continues to run.

It ran all the way down to 1 second, where the Hawkeyes called timeout to set up the final play.  All James had to do was snap the ball, and kneel down, and that’s what he did, and it was over.  In hindsight, he probably wished he could have thrown it, just for a couple more yards.

But that’s ok, he will get his 400 yard passing day at some point this season.  The last time we had one?  A sophomore by the name of Chuck Long, in October 1983 – 420 yards. 

But individual stats don’t matter much to the bottom line.  That is, that Iowa had just completed the greatest comeback in the history of Iowa Football.  The previous high, 18 points, in a game against Oregon, in 1949.  This one, 21, and it may be another half century before we see anything like it.

James, 31 for 48, 399 yards, 3 tds, and the 1 pick.
Kevonte, 4 catches, 76 yards, 2 tds.
Marvin, 8 snags for 112.  Still needing 3 tds for the record.  Two this week.
Davis, 10 catches, 129, 1 td.  Quickly turning into the goto guy we hoped for.
Coker, 23 carries, for 86 yards.  Some of the board talk sounds like he might have been a bit nicked up, not making the moves with the speed we were used to.  We’ll see this Saturday.

The Iowa defense did give up 422 yards, but they kept Graham (22 for 97) 64 yards below his NCAA leading average.  And in light of the 285 we gave up passing, keep in mind both Bernstine and Miller were making their 1st starts.  Clearly, having Prater and Hyde both at corner worked out, and the secondary will be getting stronger each week if these four can stay healthy.

Meyer 1 for 3, but if we traded those two missed field goals for touchdowns, we would have lost, so we are ok with that.  He’ll be back this week.  Guthrie, 45.5 yard average on his punts – looking like he can continue to be the punting weapon we have counted on in the past. 

So while the Hawkeyes were able to celebrate the epic victory, there are still things that everyone has to work on, be it offense, defense, special teams.  We have a game this week that on the surface, we should win.  But it will require another hard week of practice, and play the game more like the Iowa team we expect – few penalties and no dumb mistakes.  For a team that is 1-2, the Warhawks do present a good challenge.

THIS WEEK: Louisianan-Monroe

ULM certainly has no problem lining up against some big programs for their non-conference slate.  In week 1, they went to Florida State, and lost 34-0.  Week 2, they hosted Grambling State, and won, 35-7, then last week, they traveled to TCU and fell 38-17.  But in that game, ULM had a lead of 17-14 after the 1st quarter.  So, the nature of the 70,507 fans in Kinnick might not be a big threat to a veteran team, which the Warhawks are.

You guessed it, ULM will come in with another variation of the spread offense.  At the helm is sophomore QB Browning, who through 3 games is 50 for 87 for 444 yards, 2 tds, and 2 interceptions.  Do the math over 3 games, that’s not much in the air – it puts them 94th nationally in passing offense.  Yes, the QB can run if pressured, but he has been sacked 8 times, so the Iowa D line should have their chances. 

They employ a two-headed tailback system, both sophomores, Donald, who has 25 caries for 183 yards (7.3 per) and 1 td, and Edwards, who has 37 carries for 170 yards.  The combined rushing offense actually has ULM at the top of the Sun Belt rankings – but that is only good enough to be 71st nationally.  Clearly, with a somewhat questionable passing attack, the Hawkeye defense is going to focus on killing this running game, and then getting after the QB.

When it comes to defense, the Warhawks kind of remind you of what Michigan was trying do to a couple years back – although ULM does it much better.

That is, their base formation is a 3-3-5.  And with fast athletes, they can make it work.  To date, they give up 108 yards per game on the ground, good for #39 nationally.  And with all those defensive backs in the game, they only give up 200 yards per game in the air, good for #54.

When it comes to offense and defense, the Warhawks are coming into Kinnick thinking that they can win the game.  Their novelty is enough to make Kirk, Norm, and KOK put in some extra time in the film room, to be sure.  But in the end, their offense is just another variation of things we see every week now, and while their defense is good, they tend to wear down as the game goes on, and close games get away from them in the 2nd half.

So let’s have a look at the special teams.  Kicking, advantage Iowa.  Their kicker, 1 of 4 on his field goal attempts in 2011, and that one was only 20 something in yardage.  Their punter is a former high school quarterback, and the prospect of fakes using him is a real threat.  But when he actually kicks the ball, the net is only 32.8 yards – meaning the kicks are not that far, and the returns are.  Their national rank in net punting is #110. 

When it comes to returns, they average a normal 19+ yards in kickoffs and not much in punt returns.  But the ULM special teams allowed TCU to return the 2nd half kickoff 94 yards to help break that game open, perhaps Jordan can do the same this week.

In light of how things last week, I expect the Hawks to come out firing.  No, we are not going to run the no-huddle offense all game, I mean emotionally ready to play smart, Iowa style football.  That is – cut the penalties in half, make tackles when they are in front of you, and be smart with the football until the opportunity to strike emerges.  The Hawkeyes should be able to wear down the Warhawks, and turn a close game in the 1st half into a 34-14 win. 

And then – you will have to find something else to do next Saturday!  That bye week comes at a good time, it will allow nicked up guys time to heal, and the Iowa coaches extra time to fix the various things that need fixing before the B1G season starts.  Penn State’s offense is a train wreak – I’m sure the Iowa defense is already salivating at the thought, but they must focus on this week, and then, we can put the Nittany Lions in the crosshairs. 

One more day to go and then - Hawkeye Day! Have a great weekend!



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