October 27, 2011

The Eternal Season - Week 9 Hawkeye Game Notes

Iowa’s Record: 5-2, 2-1 Big Ten, 1-0 B1G Legends
Iowa’s Rankings
USA Today: 14 votes <--- we’re back!

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 WIN 45-17
10/01/11 Bye Week
10/08/11 @ Penn State Loss 13-3
10/15/11 Northwestern WIN 41-31
10/22/11 Indiana WIN 45-24
10/29/11 @ Minnesota 3:42 pm, BTN
11/05/11 Michigan 12:01 pm, ESPN
11/12/11 Michigan State TBD
11/19/11 @ Purdue TBD
11/25/11 @ Nebraska 12:00 pm, ABC

Scouting Next Opponent:
October 29th: Purdue @ Michigan, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

October 29th , 2011: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Minnesota Golden Gophers, 1-6, 0-3 Big Ten
Prior Games: 104, Minnesota leads 60-42-2
Last Game: 2010.  Iowa 24, Minnesota 27

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +3
Big Ten #6, NCAA #38

Interception Battle:
Linebackers: 1
Secondary: 5

Current Line: Iowa -15

2011 Key Stats
Scoring Defense 23.2, Pass Def 245.1 Rush Def 16.1, Picks 6, Total Def 406.7
Big Ten            #8                      #11                     #8                  #7                       #9
NCAA             #43                    #90                     #68                #65 tie                 #78

Scoring Offense 34.3, Pass Offense 253.0, Rush Offense 143.4, Total Off 396.4
Big Ten                #4                             #2                                #10                         #6
NCAA                  #28                          #40                               #69                        #58

Depth Chart for this week:

Last Week – Indiana

It was another glorious fall Saturday afternoon in Iowa City, as the stadium came into view, the sun was shining down on the 100th University of Iowa Homecoming.  There was news the day before kickoff that the Hoosiers would be giving the start to true freshman QB Tre Roberson – the first true freshman to ever start for Indiana, and a kid celebrating his 19th birthday on Saturday.  Well, maybe once the game ended, anyway.

Not that he didn’t look good for a kid making his first start, on the road.  But the real problem for the Hoosiers last week was their defense.  It was expected, and this week, it was.

The Hawks got the ball first, and Jordan brought it from the 2 out to the 31.  A good start!  KOK thinking to unleash the bombs and go for the throat from the start?  No.  Coker, right up the middle, 2 yards.  One again, he spins out of a tackle at the line, 6 yards.  3rd and 2.  3rd time’s a charm, middle again, hit, but falls forward for 3, a 1st down Iowa.

Why not?  James hands the ball to Marcus – he steps through a week arm tackle at about 4 yards, and then lowers his head and drills the safety who (meekly) comes up to make the tackle after 4 more are gained.  Again, Marcus heads straight up through the guards, and now, bouncing off one hit, spinning off another, 11 yards!  Ball at the Hoosier 39.

Ok, the running game, established.  James fakes the handoff and stands up, but before he can look downfield, a blitz comes in from the right, and James is sacked, for a loss of 9 yards.  He steps back into the gun, but a flag flies, and tack on 5 more to that for a false start – Tobin.

2nd and 24 – James has a moment to survey, but the pressure comes, so he steps up, and fires a rope over the middle to Derby, (the Elder), caught, 16 yards, 3rd and 8.

In the gun again, the pressure soon comes from the outside, so James steps up, pauses for a brief second, and then, takes off!  No one is in the middle of the field; he has the 1st down, and more, getting all the way down to the Hoosier 13 – 24 yards!

Coker now, he seems to have a step, but the hit from behind snags him, 2 yards.  Again, the middle, spinning, 4 yards.  James drops back, pressure comes from his left, so he steps up, and then, forward, at the 5, dives – and down at the 1. 

Hawks line up in the Power I, and this time, the ball goes to Marcus, and he just blasts his way through the line and into the end zone, touchdown Iowa, 7-0, a 12 play drive that consumed 7:10 of the 1st quarter.  The Iowa Defense, probably thinking it’s about time.

Meyer’s kick lands at the 15, and the coverage team makes the tackle at the 26 – no wait, flags, holding Indiana, ball now at their 16.

The freshman starts in the gun, where he would be for almost the entire game – this another version of the option/read offense.

They start with a handoff to the tailback Houston, he gets 2 yards, but a flag flies, and it’s offsides Iowa, Alvis, lining up in the neutral zone.  Iowa defense, apparently falling asleep during that first drive.

Roberson keeps it after the fake, he rolls right, and then fires the ball down the numbers, and it’s caught, 19 yards.

The Hoosiers now run an end around, he gets the ball and the corner, 8 yards.  A wideout screen follows, the Hawks have a chance at the tackle in the backfield, but miss, and Bernstine has to clean it up after 7 yards and a Hoosier 1st down.  A QB keeper follows, and he tries the right side, but gains only 2. 

The Hoosiers spread the defense out, and it’s a designed QB draw – Roberson gets the 1st down, but flags fly, and he got there via a hold, so the Hoosiers now face a 2nd and 18.

A handoff, to Houston, 5 yards.  3rd and 14, the Iowa fans ramp up the noise level, but the young QB calmly walks along his offensive line to make sure each guy hears the play.  The Hawks are using the 3 down linemen set, and they can’t stop the QB from running – he stats right, but then cuts it back into the middle, and he finally gets hit, but he falls across the yellow line when going down.  1st down Indiana, at the Iowa 37.

The Hawks stuff the next play, a handoff, which gains nada.  Indiana again has the 5 wide look, but the pressure comes quickly, and the QB has to scramble to his right, where he dumps the ball off, to gain only 3.

3rd and 7, the crowd again wills the Iowa defense to make the stop.  But the D line doesn’t get any pressure, so Roberson is able to look around and slide a pass in over the middle, it’s caught, 1st down Hoosiers at the 19 – 15 yards.

A run up the middle gets 4, then Houston gets a carry and he gets the corner turned, 11 yards, ball at the Iowa 3.

Thinking run, the Iowa defense can’t stop the quick pass to the back of the end zone – the catch is made, it looks close, but the feet are in.  It’s reviewed and upheld, and the Iowa fans sit down as the score is 7-7.  A 12 play drive for Indiana. 

All right, offense, how bout a response.

The Hoosier kickoff lands at the goal and bounces into the end zone.  James hands the ball to Marcus, who tries the middle, but this time, the Hoosiers have the box stacked, and it goes for nothing.

KOK takes note of this.  The Hawks line up with Marvin on the near side and Keenan on the far.  At the snap, it’s a play action pass – the ball does not go to Marcus.  Marvin has run what appears to be a slant, but no, he keeps going, it’s a crossing route!  YOU CAN’T COVER MARVIN ON A CROSSING ROUTE!!!  And – the Indiana defense has taken this to a whole new level!  James throws the pass to the far side, and Marvin makes the catch at the 36, and as the camera finds him, he is all alone!  40. 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, TOUCHDOWN IOWA!!!  80 yards!  The record breaker, McNutt touchdown #22!  A 56 second drive!  A response indeed, 10++ on the style points!

Alas, the quick strike meant the defense had to get right back out there.  The kickoff lands at the 13, and Law wraps up the return man at the 25.

The drive starts with Roberson rolling left; he keeps it and gains 5.  A handoff to Houston nets only 1, and it also brings the 1st quarter to a close. 

The Hoosiers face a 3rd and 4 after the break, and a quick pass over the middle gets 7 and an Indiana 1st down.  Now they line up in the wildcat, and the wideout Hughes gets the snap, and gets 3 yards up the middle.  Roberson is back under center, and he hands it to Houston – he gets the far corner, and flags fly on the tackle, Prater is called for a facemask, although the replays don’t show his hand actually grabbing the mask.

Regardless, after the 15 yard penalty, the Hoosiers were at the Iowa 32.

Houston, the middle, 2 yards.  A QB keeper, he tries the near side, but is forced out after only 3.  3rd and 5.

Roberson takes the snap and rolls toward the near side – and then fires the ball underneath the Iowa coverage, caught, 15 yards, to the Iowa 12.  Houston gets the ball again, and finds 3 yards up the middle.  Roberson, keeps it, rolls right, and steps out of a tackle at the line, but flags fly again, Indiana called for a block in the back – 2nd and 18.

The next play is another QB draw – the Iowa defense has a shot at the line, but he escapes, and picks up 12 before going down.  3rd and 6.

Houston gets the ball, and he goes right up the middle, and gets the 6 he needs.  1st down Indiana, at the Iowa 2.

Houston again, but Morris emerges in the hole and pops him, it only goes 3 feet.  But on the next play the Iowa defense can’t stop it, and Houston steps across the line to tie it at 14.  All right, it seems another week where we are going to just have to score a lot of points. 

The Hoosier kick lands at the 4, and Jordan hauls it out to the 28.  The long drive has given the Iowa offense a bit of rest.

Coker gets the ball first, and chews up 7 yards, and makes sure the defender making the tackle knows whom he is dealing with. 

Which seems to work – Marcus gets the carry again, and after about 8 yards, an Indiana safety stands in his way – Coker just sidesteps the guy, and now, he’s in the clear!  50, 40, 30, and finally caught and downed at the 24!  41 yards!

At this point, the BTN sideline reporter has made her way to where Marvin’s parents are sitting, and is talking to them about his record, and his journey from Iowa quarterback to all time touchdown reception leader.  KOK obliges.

James has Marvin one on one on the far side – he floats a pass to the end zone, Marvin reaches up, has it, but the Indiana defender gets his hand in there, and McNutt can’t hold on as they fall out of bounds.

The BTN crew points out that is a true freshman trying to cover Marvin one on one.

A note that the Iowa coaching staff was also aware of, as they call the exact same play.

This time, the cornerback is closer to the line, and Marvin is able to push him away at the snap and gain a step – James floats it, and Marvin has all the space he needs to make the catch and score!!!  Touchdown Iowa, 21-14, and the BTN has cameras right there to see Marvin’s parents and family jumping and hugging in celebration.  TV gold!

Now, how about a stop!!!

The kickoff lands at the 2, and is carried out to the 25, but hold on, flags again,  holding Indiana. Ball at the 14.

Roberson, a QB keeper, 3 yards.  Now, a quick pass right, but Prater is there to make the immediate hit, no gain, 3rd and 7.

The Indiana QB has barely made the catch of the snap when the Iowa D line comes right up the middle – and there is nowhere to run to, and Alvis and Binns meet at the QB and sandwich him into an 8 yard sack.  4th and 14, Indiana finally punts, and it’s a duck, but it rolls for a ways and is downed at the Iowa 45.  That’s the way to do it Iowa Defense!

Coker starts the drive and goes up the middle, a good solid 5 to start.  Once again, he gets through the line, and then skips left, 13 yards – no, a flag.  Marvin is called for holding.  Eh, if that’s holding, you should call it on every play on the linemen.

Because the penalty occurred downfield, the result is a 2nd and 3.  Coker, middle, no problem, 1st down Iowa.  James tries a pass to Davis running an out route on the near side, but the pass is late and nearly picked off.  Undeterred, James again fires for Keenan, this time on a turnaround route, and he makes the catch, and dives forward on the hit, 12 yards, 1st down Iowa at the Hoosier 33!

Coker gets the ball and tries the right side, but he slips, and ends up losing 1.  James, has Marvin on the near side at the snap – he drops back, and then, fires a perfect back shoulder pass – Marvin sees this, turns, makes the catch, and then, breaks the tackle!  20 10, 5, and he is cut off and downed at the 4 yard line.  30 yards, 1st and goal!

Marcus, the middle, 2 yards.  Hawks again line up in the Power I, and Coker gets the ball and dives over the goal line.  Touchdown Iowa!  28-14, the clock at 1:38 of the 2nd.  Surely, that will be the score at halftime.

This time, Meyer’s kick lands in the end zone, and the Hoosiers bring it out, and get out to the 33 – no, another flag, that’s holding Indiana, the ball is now at the 12.  Clock, 1:31.

Roberson rolls to the near side, and then, he steps out of bounds.  A true freshman mistake, compounded by the flags that are on the field – a block below the waist (on a linemen already engaged), that’s a 9 yard penalty.  The ball is now at the 8.

Houston gets the handoff and gets 2 yards.  Timeout, Iowa.  Clock, 1:18.

Wait a minute – is this the Iowa coaching staff using timeouts to get the ball back?  Not satisfied with a 14 point halftime lead?

Roberson tries a QB keeper, but now, the Iowa defense is feasting, and Binns pounds him into the turf before he can even start running - a 6 yard loss!  3rd and 18.  Timeout Iowa, clock at 1:18.

After the break, the Hoosiers hand the ball off to a wideout, and he gets the near corner, 5, 10, but he allows himself to be pushed out of bounds after getting 15!  4th and 3, and the Hawks don’t have to call a timeout!  Clock, 1:07.

The Hoosier punt lands at the 47, where Hyde makes the fair catch.  After the exchange, the Hoosiers call timeout, the clock at 1:00.

James, in the gun, fires a strike to Marvin on the far side, an out route, he makes the catch, 11 yards, and steps out of bounds.  Clock 55 seconds.

Again in the gun, James fires for Davis on a crossing route from the near side – it’s caught, 9 yards.  The Hawks get quickly to the line, but waste several seconds trying to figure out the play, and they finally call timeout with 30 seconds left, facing the 2nd and 1.

After the break, James calls his own number, and the QB sneak actually gains 4 yards on the tired Indiana defense.  The clock stops after the 1st down, and this gives Iowa time to plan the attack.  Ball at the 29.

At the snap, Marvin is lined up on the near side – James, looking left, and then as he comes back to the right, he hard pumps the ball – at that moment, Marvin looks like he is cutting to the post – but then, he turns it upfield, and is all alone, as James floats the pass into the end zone – it should have had a little more zip to it, but no matter, it lands in Marvin’s hands just before the defender arrives, TOUCHDOWN IOWA!!!!  29 yards, 35-14!  That’s how you do it Hawkeyes!!!

One more Indiana run brings the half to an end, and the Hawkeyes and shell shocked Hoosiers head to the locker room.  James, 8-10, 211 yards, 3 tds.  Coker, already over 100.  Marvin, already over 100, and 3 tds.  The Hawks are averaging nearly 11 yards per play in the 1st 30 minutes.

At halftime, a few girls from the Indiana bar (which is right across the street from our bar in NYC) came over and were asking me a few questions about how to get their game watches ramped up.  I told them the best way to grow them is to have a few successful football seasons.  Allowing as how that might be a stretch, they found solace in the fact they are Indiana, and hoops season is now approaching.  But I told them that 3 years before we were 11-2, we won just 1 game.  So don’t give up hope.

Compared to the fireworks of the 1st half, the 2nd half looked like a game that was already decided.  The teams traded field goals in the 3rd quarter, Meyer’s a 47 yarder, and then the Hawks did get a passing td to a tight end, but not CJF as I expected, Herman.   That came with 3:10 left in the 4th, and then the Hoosiers were able to march down the field on the 2nd and 3rd team Iowa defense in the final minute.  By that point, Indiana was left to ponder their chances for a win this season (Wildcats, Buckeyes, Spartans, Boilermakers left on their schedule), while the Hawkeyes were able to finally cast their gaze north. 

For the game, James, an economical 12-16 for 253 and 4 tds – that’s 15.3 yards per completed pass.  Of those, 6 to Marvin for 184 and the 3 tds, the Iowa record now at 24 – and counting.  Coker, 23 carries for 139 yards (one short of what I wanted), at a crisp 6.0 per touch.  There in the 4th were we able to run Johnson and Canzeri some, and they averaged 5.2 and 6.5 yards on their attempts.  Look for more of the triple threat Iowa running game in the weeks ahead.  Oh, and he dressed last week, and didn’t play, but could this week – freshman tailback McCall looks healed from his ankle injury.  The 4 Horsemen ride again.

So as the Indiana players headed back east, the Hawkeye players were able to finally put their focus on the next task at hand.  And that’s to go on the road – and blow the Rodents
clear out of the stadium.

THIS WEEK: Minnesota

They Have Floyd.

New coach, same old results up there in Rodentland.  Jerry Kill is in his first year as head man up north, but his 18th overall, though this is his first gig at the BCS level.

From a one win team with a running QB to another one win team with a running QB.  A correlation?  Perhaps – it is the Big Ten.

The Rodents started with a close loss to USC, 19-17.  That, respectable.  They followed that with a 28-21 loss to New Mexico State.  After that game, coach Kill collapsed with a seizure.

In week 3 they did get that win, 29-23 over Miami of Ohio, but they had to knock down a RedHawk pass in the end zone as time expired to hang on to the victory.  Their coach was back for that one; his first win as a Rodent.

But then in week 4, the Rodents were beaten, 37-24, by North Dakota State.  Now, the  Bison are 7-0 and battling UNI this weekend, but for a Minnesota team to lose to a team from North Dakota – in football – had many of the alumni base contemplating drastic measures.

Then, the Big Ten season started.  For the Rodents, that meant a trip to the Big House, and a 58-0 pasting.  A week later, a 45-17 loss at Purdue.  And last week, a 41-14 loss to Nebraska.  After Iowa?  Spartans, Badgers, Wildcats, Illini.  Rodent fans wondering where win #2 might come from.

They Have Floyd.

Not that their wondering is our concern. 

How does a team get to 1-6, with all the recent games being not even a little bit close?

To the stats!  Lets start with scoring offense, as the point of football is to score points.  The Rodents?  Dead last in the conference, and 110th in the nation, at 17.4 per game.

On the flip side, scoring defense.  Rodents, last, and 115th – 35.7 points per game.

How does one score points in football?  By running the ball across the goal line.  This, they are not as bad at, actually just a spot behind us, at 142.8 yards per game.  But while we are ok with that because we have a deadly passing game, the same cannot be said for the Rodents.

150.8 yards per game – only Ohio State is worse in the B1G, and 11 teams in all the country pass for fewer yards.  Those include the triple option rushing teams. 

A step further into passing efficiency we go.  James, and Iowa, #2, and #17.  Lots of yards, few picks, lots of touchdowns.  The Rodents?  6 picks – and 5 passing touchdowns.  Last in the Big Ten, #114 in Division 1.

The Rodents have used 2 QBs to get to these numbers, but we are likely to see mostly junior Marqueis Grey, #5.  He did not play in the Michigan game, but in the last two weeks he is averaging about 45% completions for around 114 yards.  He is a threat to run, he has been as high as 25 carries for 171 yards – against Miami of Ohio.  Purdue, 6 carries for 20 yards, and Nebraska, 17 for 67, a 3.9 yard average.

The Rodents have had some success in the kickoff return area, but let’s face it; they are getting way more chances.  In fact, their average is about a yard and half below ours season to date.  Still, having our guys staying in their lanes and making tackles – that is, tackles, not hits, will be key.  A road game where we are the clear favorite, the special teams explosions have got to be ours.  Looking for Jordan to finally get one home this week.

Is there any chance the Hawks will be looking past the Rodents, focusing on the looming back to back battles with the Wolverines and Spartans?

No.  They Have Floyd.

Aside from atoning from the perplexing loss to end last year, there is the Bowl Eligibility thing to lock down this week, and there will be the desire of the players to play so well that it will make the Michigan coaches and players nervous as they watch the tape. 

The Gophers do have tailbacks, but they are of little consequence as they have fewer rushing yards than the QB does.  The Iowa defense knows what it must do – contain him, make him throw the ball, where Prater, Hyde, and the rest of the back line can bait him into bad throws that go the other way. 

The offense has just got to keep doing what they have been doing.  Get Coker et al going, and then play action that baby right over their heads. Now that the pressure of getting to, and setting the record has past, look for Marvin to simply blow up to finish off his senior season.  And that just fuels the running game.  Coker over 150 this week, again over 5.0 per carry.

What about the fact that James has yet to win a road game?  It’s going to happen, and he is going to win lots of them over the next year plus.  It starts Saturday.

It’s rather simple – if we are going to win the games that we have coming up, we have to make this one look easy.  Last year, an aberration.  This year, back to reality.

Come Home Floyd.

Iowa 48, Rodents 17.

But that’s not the only football game that will be interesting to Big Ten fans on Saturday.  At Noon, the Wolverines host Purdue, a game Hawkeye fans will want to keep an eye on, as we play both of them over the next three weeks (ESPN2).  At the same time, the Spartans head to Lincoln to battle the Huskers  - on ESPN.  A game featuring the other two teams we play in the final 4 weeks.  And then the nightcap, the Badgers try to rebound from their last second loss a week ago at Ohio State, on ESPN.  Get to your game watch early, and stay late.  A day full of interesting college football games!

One day to go, and then, Rodent hunting!  See you next week!



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