October 6, 2011

The Eternal Season - Week 6 Hawkeye Game Notes


Iowa’s Record: 3-1
Iowa’s Rankings
USA Today: 5 votes

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 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN*
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:
October 8th: Michigan @ Northwestern, 7:00 pm, BTN

*Coverage Maps for this week:
October 8th, 2011: Iowa Hawkeyes @ Penn State Nittany Lions, 4-1, 0-0 Big Ten
Prior Games: 23, Iowa leads 12-11-0
Last Game: 2010.  Penn State 3, Iowa 24

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +4
Big Ten #2, NCAA #16

Interception Battle:
Linebackers: 1
Secondary: 3

Current Line: Iowa +4

2011 Key Stats  (keep in mind most teams have played 5 games)
Scoring Defense 23.8, Pass Def 253.3 Rush Def 132.5, Interceptions 4, Total Def 385.8
Big Ten                 #8                      #11                         #6                  #6 tie                         #9
NCAA                   #53                    #89                         #52                #56 tie                       #73

Scoring Offense 37.8, Pass Offense 281.3, Rush Offense 140.5, Total Offense 421.8
Big Ten                #3                             #1                                #10                                  #5
NCAA                  #21                          #28                               #69                                 #45

Depth Chart for this week:
Last Week – ULM Warhawks:

Hello again my Hawkeye friends!

I hope the week off treated you well, that you were not like some of us who were lost and confused all day Saturday with no Hawkeye game.  Had to fill the void with some rather unexciting games, score wise, but the time off should be good for the players as we now begin the Big Ten grind.

As this game was over a week ago, easy, by recent standards, and I have been very busy over the past week in training for my new gig, I won’t be drive-detailing the win over the Warhawks.  Enough with the non-conference season; bring on the big boys, where the fine detail will resume next week, after the win over Penn State.

Not that there won’t be any Notes over the week 4 win.  The Hawks came out firing again, with a no huddle, 9 play, 74 yard drive that ended with – type it with me now – our pro style QB once again running the ball in with a QB sneak.  At 3:21 off the clock, slow by the 4th quarter standards of the Pitt game, but still exciting to see KOK learn something from the week before.  7-0 Hawks, the Iowa offense was off and running!

The Iowa defense wasn’t able to get the desired 3 and out, but the ULM 14 play, 57-yard drive that ended in a field goal was textbook Hawkeye bend-don’t-break defense.  7-3, and that would be it for Warhawk 1st half scoring.

In a sign that the Iowa offense came to play, we responded with an 8 play, 60 yard drive, that ended with a perfect fade pass from James to Marvin and we were up 14-3.  Your scribe, running from back bar to front to play the fight song, again.  And ok with it!

The next drive started with ULM completing a pass for 11 yards, but then they quickly faced a 3rd and 9, the Hawks responded with a legit 3-4 – three down linemen, 4 linebackers, and the 4 defensive backs.  No worry; even short a man, Lebron got in there and caused the pass to be thrown away.  The punt landed at the 33 and rolled 10 yards further – Iowa ball at the 23, 5 seconds left in the 1st.

The next Iowa drive didn’t result in any points – it starts with the late hit on James that brings the quarter to an end with an un-timed play, and ended 4 plays later with Jordan (Bernstine) diving at the punted ball to throw it back out of the end zone, where the Hawkeyes downed it at the 3 yard line.  Jordan, once again making a difference.

And he would very soon again.  On the subsequent 3rd and 11, the ULM pass is broken up by Nielsen, as Jordan flies in to drill the receiver and make sure the ball falls to the turf.  Just seconds later, the punt came from the ULM 13, and it was caught by Hyde at the Iowa 40 – he heads for the far side, and as he gets to the corner, it’s sealed by Jordan laying a classic de-cleater on the Warhawk defender trying to cut the corner.  Micah zoomed by and wasn’t downed until hitting the ULM 29!

Lucky for the Warhawks, Jordan returned to the bench as the Iowa offense took the field, but unlucky for them, Coker would run it in from 4 yards out 6 plays later.  21-3 Hawks, just as a lethal offense should do, making them pay for failing to execute a good punt.

ULM would soon be doing it again – they get two 1st downs, but then their 3rd and 7 pass is hurried by a Hawkeye blitz, and this time they get the punt downed at the Iowa 8. 

This drive starts with promise, but it soon ends with Bullock hopping and spinning for extra yards, only to lose the ball, which the Warhawks recover, at the Iowa 26.  Defense, make your stand!

This drive was key, so we get the details.  A handoff, 2 yards.  On 2nd down, the QB is pressured and pulls it down, where Morris clobbers him, 3rd and 4 at the Iowa 20.

The Warhawks are in an empty backfield, 5 wide formation, and the quick pass over the middle is right in the receiver’s hands (Leonard) only to have him drop it.  They go for it, and on 4th down, he once again is targeted – and once again, has the ball hit his fingers and then the dirt – this time in the right flat.

The Hawks make them pay, and pay quickly.  An  8 play, 80 yard drive, that culminates with James again feeding a perfect fade to Marvin – on the other side – and the ball calmly settles into his arms, touchdown Iowa, 28-3, the pass from 17 yards out.  Marvin, one shy of the Iowa td record, and two from owning it.

The Warhawks go 4 and out, thanks in large part to Daniels blasting the ULM QB for a 6 yard sack.  The punt comes two plays later, and the Hawks had the ball at their 26 with 45 seconds left.

Predictably, this starts with a Coker run, but he shakes and bakes his way through a couple tackles to pick up 13 yards.  After that, James attacks by trying Marvin deep down the near side – and he is behind the coverage…but the pass is just a bit too long.  The half ends 3 plays later, and Hawk fans are feeling very good about the way things have gone in the first 30 minutes.

We do get halftime stats on the BTN, and Iowa has racked up 96 on the ground, and 198 in the air, while converting 5 of 8 3rd downs.  An efficient, dominating half.  Now, let’s seal it up and get on to the bye week boys. 

When having a commanding lead at the break, you want your defense to come out and slap a 3 and out on the opposition immediately.  But that did not happen, as ULM went on another methodical drive, 13 plays over 71 yards, to score on a QB keeper from 4 yards out.  28-10 Hawks, the offense needed to respond.

And so, they did. It helped when Jordan took the kickoff back to the Iowa 40.  It took the Hawks just 6 plays and 2:48 to get the ball to the Warhawk 2 (thanks to a pass interference call on a toss to Marvin). From there, Coker strolled in to the right – it looked like he lost the ball, but it had already crossed the goal line, 35-10 Hawks, sorry ULM, there will be no comeback. 

But, they made the Iowa defense work again.  Another long drive, this one, 10 plays, after a near turnover when the Warhawk QB lost the snap – but he got it back and fired a 1st down pass.  Kirk and the Iowa bench are not happy – mainly as the officials clearly miss that all the ULM lineman are downfield far ahead of the pass.  4 plays later, they score, and it was 35-17. 

Fine, now they try an onside kick, and the ball floats right into our hands at the Warhawk 41.  Finish them!

Three plays later, Davis is standing at the front of the end zone, waiting for the floated pass from James to drop before the defender arrives – and it does.  Touchdown Iowa, 42-17, the drive, 1:17. 

ULM, 3 and out, and the 4th quarter begins with their punt sailing to the Iowa 30 – where Hyde catches it and returns it 13 yards.

This drive starts with Bullock heading left for 4 yards, but a short time later, it was Canzeri in the backfield, and his first Iowa carry nets 13 as he runs right through a tackle at the line.  Two plays later he gets the ball and explodes through the hole, to the tune of 12 more.  Kinnick approves, as the Iowa tailbacks are now 3 deep.  This drive dies at the ULM 5, so Meyer comes in to boot the 23 yarder, 45-17 Hawks, and that would be it for the scoring.

After that, it was heading on down into and below the 2 deep.  Note, the only penalty on Iowa for the day was in the next offensive drive, a holding call, on the O line.  Derby the Younger got in for a series, but as of yesterday, he won’t be the backup this week or next – busted, public intox, at age 20.  See, I told you a Saturday without Iowa games causes confusion.  Let’s hope the lesson is learned.

The game soon ended and the Beer Song began.  A satisfying win, to be sure, but we can nitpick a bit about the long 3rd quarter drives that the defense allowed, the lack of turnovers forced, and well, that’s about it.  Lucky for us, the bye week allowed extra time to work on those things, and to get guys who were a bit nicked up time to recover.  And so, we will ride into Happy Valley this week refreshed and ready to stake our claim to Kinnick East.  Again.

THIS WEEK: Penn State

The Lions are off to a 4-1 start, and their one loss was a home defeat to Alabama, 27-11.  That sounds good.  But the way they have won two of their four games shows that this is a team with a lot of work to do.  Week 1 was no problem, 41-7 over Indiana State.  The Bama loss was in week 2, and then they very nearly lost to Temple – yes, the Owls, the next week.  Penn State had to score a td with about 2 minutes left to escape with the win.  In week 3, they handled Eastern Michigan 34-6, but then last week, they struggled to put away the terrible Indiana Hoosiers, 16-10.  And Indiana had a very good shot to win that game at the buzzer.  For the record, the Hoosiers are 1-4 with losses to the powers of Ball State, Virginia, and North Texas. 

So, when you consider that the Hawkeyes are in the heads of the Lions on any normal year, then you have to figure the close shaves have got Penn State plenty worried about our arrival on Saturday.

Defensively, the Lions are actually pretty good.  2nd in the Big Ten and 5th nationally at just over 250 yards per game allowed.  But, know this – even Alabama doesn’t have a passing QB like we do in Vandenberg.  So we’ll see what he can do against their 155 yards per game allowed, which is #6 in the NCAA. 

The Lions give up about 95 yards per game on the ground, but Alabama was able to rack up 196 – and that was in a game in which the Tide completed 19 passes for 163 yards – 5.3 per pass.  So it seems a few medium to long completions to the likes of Marvin or Keenan will have the State defense dropping back, and our now 3 headed rushing attack should be able to stay fresh, and find holes.  Which opens up the passing game in return.

But their real problem is when they have the ball.  State is still using the two-headed QB attack, which only means the coaches can’t settle on who is the better player – if there is one.

Starting the Hoosier game was sophomore Rob Bolden – and in that one, he went 6-14 with 67 yards.  Season to date, he has completed just 45.9% of his passes, for 5.35 per catch, with 1 td and 4 interceptions.  And he is not a real threat to run; his long carry to date is 11 yards.

Then they put in junior Matt McGloin –the way it’s supposed to work is one quarter for Bolden, one for McGloin, and the 2nd half for whoever is doing better.  He is better on the stat line, completing 57.9% of his passes, with 4 tds and no picks.  Although against a good defense (Alabama) he was 1 for 10 for 10 yards.  Both, very susceptible to bad passes that are likely to hit the turf – or when playing a team like Iowa, going the other way.  The total passing stat says they are #66 nationally – but when all the other factors are added in, their passing efficiency plummets to #103.  

With the questionable QB play, expect the Lions to try and run the ball.  To date, they are just above us at 148 yards per game, with junior Redd accounting for most of them, 432 yards at 4.7 per carry.  It’s obvious, but I’ll type it anyway – against a suspect passing attack, killing the running game will be the top priority. 

The erratic State offense has also lost 6 fumbles – and you know how these Big Ten road games can turn on a sudden change of possession.

How are their special teams?  Well, let’s talk Penn State punting first.  Their net, almost 10 yards less than ours – ours being #4 nationally, State’s being #94. And they still use the same three-man back formation that Clayborn beat in 2009.  The punter is also doing the kicks, and the expected result is right where the stats lie on field goals – 6 for 12, 50%.  The real problem is anything longer than 29 yards – where they are 3 for 9.  In other words, anything but a chip shot is a major gamble.  Major advantage Iowa on the special teams.

When it comes to returning, State is pretty average on both kickoff and punt returns, not a threat on either according to the numbers.  In light of how the specials teams so often play a role in our wins over Penn State, this might be the week we see Jordan break one of those kick returns.

What about the intangibles?  Well, we had one penalty last week, and that was with the 2nd and 3rd team in the game.  If we can play the same way this week, we won’t be giving State extra chances and the fans reason to be into the game.  The recent success we have had with our quick strike offense has to be giving the State coaches and players plenty of worry, wondering if their anemic offense can keep up.  And if that Iowa offense can strike in the early going, the 106,000+ fans will shut up, and that doubt that losing 3 straight, and 8 of 9, will set in, once again.  And our little sliver of yellow up in the corner will again be chanting, ‘We Own Penn State.”

It’s October – the Hawks have had a week to rest and prepare, and with our young team, that week was key.  We are still an improving team on many fronts, but now that a quarter of the season is done with, the young players are growing up, and ready for the next phase – one where the run to the Big Ten West title begins, and one that looks certainly attainable after the way Nebraska was bushwhacked at Wisconsin last week.  We are getting better each and every week – and Penn State has not.  Iowa 34, Penn State, 13.



October 4, 2011

The Eternal Season - Tuesday October 4th

Good Morning Friends!

Make that Tuesday morning!  Adios, Monday!

A real quick TES today, as we are soon off to work, and have to work on the Penn State game notes when we return tonight.  Now that MNF has ended with another Colts loss, the focus returns to the diamond, where today we get Rangers at Rays, 2:07 pm on TBS - Texas up 2-1.  Then Phillies at Redbirds, 5:07 on TNT, series 1 all.  Next, Yankees at Tigers, 8:37 pm, TBS.  Detroit up 2-1 and looking to knock New York out tonight.  The nightcap, Brewcrew at DBacks. 9:37, TNT - Milwaukee going for the sweep.

So after tonight we could have 2 of the final four set, and then by the time football returns Thursday, perhaps all will be settled.  The next round will start, but we've got football on the mind.

October 2, 2011

The Eternal Season - Sunday October 2nd

Good Afternoon TES Friends!

I hope your weekend has been going well to this point!  Kind of a lost weekend without Iowa Football - wandering around on Saturday, confused, disoriented, nothing to do.  At least the Sunday routine is here for clarity.

Spent all day Saturday watching football of course.  Texas put a beat down on the Clones as payback for last year, the Badgers were very rude hosts to the Huskers, and Florida had a lead on Bama before reality set in and the Tide swamped the Gators. 

The big boys are now playing, and we are hosting my roommate's fantasy league, as they all host a Giants or Jets game watch on a rotating basis during the season.  Football with good friends - or in this case, friends who are also competitors, in the high stakes game that is fantasy.  Me, I just watch the games.