October 25, 2012

2012 IOWA FOOTBALL - WEEK 9: IOWA @ NORTHWESTERN


Sedge’s Hawkeye Game Notes - 2012 Edition
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Iowa’s Record: 4-3, 2-1 Big Ten, 2-0 B1G Legends
Iowa’s Rankings:
AP:
USA Today:
BCS:
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2012 IOWA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE*

September 1st @ Northern Illinois WIN 18-17
September 8th v. Iowa State Loss 9-6
September 15th v. Northern Iowa WIN 27-16
September 22nd v. Central Michigan Loss 32-21
September 29th v. Minnesota WIN 31-13
October 13th @ Michigan State WIN 19-16 2OT
October 20th v. Penn State Loss 38-14
October 27th @ Northwestern 12:00 pm, ESPN2
November 3rd @ Indiana TBD, BTN
November 10th v. Purdue TBD - Silver Pro Combat Unis
November 17th @ Michigan, TBD
November 23rd (Friday) v. Nebraska 12:00 pm, ABC

*Times Eastern

Scouting Next Opponent: Indiana @ Illinois, Noon, BTN
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October 27th, 2012.  Iowa @ Northwestern Wildcats, 6-2, 2-2 Big Ten, 1-1 B1G Ledgends
Previous Meetings: 73, Iowa leads 47-23-3
Last Meeting: 2011, Wildcats 31, Hawkeyes 41

Current Line: Iowa +6

Turnover Margin: +6 B1G #3 FBS #25

Current Week 2 Deep:

Hawkeye Stat Pack (2012 season to date)
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Offense
Total   324.4 Pass  189.0  Rush 135.4  Scoring 20.9
B1G    #11               #8             #11                  #10
FBS    #105             #101         #88                  #101
Defense  
Total   343.7  Pass  212.8 Rush 132.0  Scoring 20.1 
B1G    #6                #8               #6                    #5
FBS    #33              #44             #39                  #28 
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Week 8 Recap: Penn State

First, let’s start with the good news:  You often hear football coaches say that you can’t allow a football team to beat you twice.  That is, you have to flush it from your memory and move on.  And so, you don’t want to read about it, I don’t want to re-watch it - so the play by play takes a week off. 

Second, as bad as that game was - it was not a Legends division game.  So we remain 2-0 and in control of our fate on our side of the Big Ten bracket.  I know, if we play like we did last week, that point is moot going forward.

But I really don’t think we will have a game quite like that - that is, such a complete meltdown from all sides - offense, defense, special teams, at any point left this season.  The Hawks know that they could lose all the rest of the games, and because they do, I think they will play better and with more urgency.

Let’s start with the offense.  He didn’t start, and it was obvious that Weisman was not 100% from his first carry.  He was not hitting the holes with his usual gusto, and then the first hit would bring him down.  He would only have 5 carries, 9 total yards - so never the chance to wear down the opposition.   Garmon, who got the start, 8 for 27 - just a plane bad day for the Hawks on the ground.

Which was certainly made harder, when in the span of just three plays, we lost Scherff and Donnal,  both felled by leg injuries, and Kirk has confirmed that both are out for the season.  That’s kind of disconcerting going forward, but with the week to prepare, the Iowa O line should pull things together.  And Mark is back on the two deep, the extra week should have his mildly sprained ankle feeling much better.  And we also see that Bullock is on the top of the two deep, so he appears to finally be over his  concussion and ready to get back out there.  Damon and Mark pounding people, Greg providing the lightening to their thunder.  

Which can only help James.  17 for 37, that’s below 50%, the one td when it was already over, with the two critical interceptions, and the one disastrous fumble, where he simply dropped the ball.  If the Iowa fans were clamoring for the backup QB to see some action before last week, it reached a overwhelming crescendo in the aftermath of this one.  

No one seems to be able to figure out what is ailing our signal caller - the one with 25 td passes last season.  Some of it may be the change in the offense, which wants more short passes to get the ball into the play makers hands quickly - as it worked on the td pass to Davis.  But many of those passes are the ones that James has trouble with, he seems to miss less when going down the field, as he was able to do last year so often when targeting Marvin.  

And so every one of those short passes that is too short or too long has got to be affecting his confidence, and when we have a game like that where the running game is doing nothing, that can’t be good for a kid who is trying his best.  And then having to hear it from the hometown fans - I’m sure he will be glad to hit the road for the next two weeks.

This was all going on as the Iowa defense had it’s worst showing to date.  PSU, 504 total yards - 215 rushing, 289 passing.  Too many 3rd downs, and the one 4th down, converted via pass when we knew it was coming. There just wasn’t enough pressure, and the times we seemed to have it, they just couldn’t get to McGloin.  They are going to have to find their form immediately, as we face two varied and potentially explosive offenses the next two weeks.  It’s also good for them to be going on the road, where I expect they are going to be very ticked off on Saturday.  And wanting to take it out on some Mildcats.

And then, Meyer is human after all.  0-2 on field goals, though I really couldn’t tell on the second one, which appeared close enough that you would have thought the BTN would have showed a replay.  But they did not.  Time to start another streak.  

But there was a special teams bright spot, and that was another kickoff return td for Jordan Cotton, this one from 92 yards, and this one counted.  That is back to back weeks if you are scoring from home.  The last time that happened - I have no idea.  But he has the speed and vision to do it again.  What a weapon that could be as we go down the stretch.

So the Hawks must put aside the PSU game, find their focus, and be ready for the first of the tests to come in the weeks ahead.  And oh look, it’s a team that normally seems to be in our heads - I think the Hawks are going to be extra ready to lay the wood on Northwestern.   

Week 9 - Northwestern

Or at least, try to.  So begins a two week stretch of hurry up offenses throwing all kinds of different looks at us and shooting for 75+ plays a game.  To win this game - we MUST win the time of possession.  It’s rather simple - James has got to manage the game so we hold onto the ball, and they don’t.  

Which will require him to hit more than 65% of his passes, and more than a few of them must be more than 15 yards downfield.  This should be possible, as the Cats give up 280 passing yards per game - last in the B1G, and 112th overall.  

 And - they lost both their starting corners to injuries in their loss to Nebraska - last week.  

These passes should then force the Mildcat secondary to drop back - which will help the running game.  To date, they only give up 121 yards per game, good for #4/#29.  That is pretty good, so we know they are going to try and take away our running game.  We must not let them. 
And our offense has got to get touchdowns.  If Meyer attempts more than two field goals, we lose.  Even if he makes all of them.

The Mildcats average just over 30 points a game.  How they get there is through the use of 2 qbs.  Junior Kain Colter was the starter when the season began, and he has tossed 437 yards, with two tds, and 1 pick.  Not that impressive.

But - he has rushed for 456 yards and 8 tds, along with 16 pass receptions for 169 yards.  Usually from the slot position.  

In the last four games, that means the primary QB has been sophomore Trevor Siemain, #13.  He has 927 passing yards and 4 tds, with 1 interception.  He is much less a threat to run, and he had his worst performance to date last week, just 15 for 35 and 116 against the Huskers - although with 2 tds.

So the Hawks must be keenly aware of which QB is in there - and adjust accordingly.

When the Cats run the ball, it goes first to junior tailback Vernick Mark, #5.  He, 910 yards on 150 carries, good for 6.1 per touch - and 9 touchdowns.  But he is also a threat out of the backfield, with 15 catches or 89 yards, and one more td.  

The Cats are likely to run the option or try a deep pass over our heads.  The Hawks must watch the film and learn what the tendencies are.  The Cats will try to get the ball into space - and when they do, the Hawks must make open field tackles, each and every time.  The Northwestern offense can be stuffed - the Huskers threw up 10 three and outs on the Cats.  But still gave up 28 points.

So then, a Big Ten game will often come down to the special teams.  And this is very interesting.  Consider kickoffs, where we know Iowa may have found a weapon.  The Cats average 16.1 yards per kickoff return, which is dead last in the B1G, and #117 overall.  Advantage Hawkeyes.

But when it comes to returning punts - not so much.  In fact, the Mildcats average a whopping 20.9 yards per return - with 2 punt return touchdowns.  That, tops in the conference - and #3 in the nation.

On the 13 punts that teams have returned against the Hawks (not downed, fair catch, or touchbacks), the average is 4.9 yards per run.  So something has to give here.  Clearly, the Hawkeye coverage teams must stay in their lanes - and make tackles in space.  

It all adds up to just under 31 points a game for the Cats, while the Hawkeyes sit about 10 points back.  On paper, and knowing the trouble we have with Northwestern, this seems a mismatch.

But this game is in Chicago.  I know, it’s a road game.  As of Wednesday, there were still over 2000 tickets left - even this dinky little stadium can’t sell out a 6-2 team.  Most of those tickets will be gobbled up by Hawkeye fans - and many of the tickets that have sold are already in the hand of Hawkeye fans.  It will be a road game - light.

Which means that when the Hawkeyes do good things, it won’t be met with silence, but with a fair amount of noise.  Hawk fans are starving for something really good to happen - and the team will hear it.

All week long, I just couldn’t see how the Hawks of last week could have any chance in this game.  But this is college football, and there will be ups and downs for a school like ours, who can’t load up on top talent year after year like some.  We hit bottom last week - and the rebound comes this week.

The Bullock/Weisman rushing attack goes over 200, and because of it, James tosses 3 touchdowns.  That’s three tds.  It will be a back and forth game, but the Iowa defense will take over in the 4th quarter, and they will put the game away.  And we will sing and the sun will shine again.  At least until that new Perfect Storm arrives early next week.  

Hawkeyes 31, Mildcats 27


GO HAWKS!!!
SEDGE

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