August 29, 2013

2013 IOWA FOOTBALL - WEEK 1: NORTHERN ILLINOIS @ IOWA


Sedge’s Hawkeye Game Notes - 2013 Edition
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Iowa’s Record: 0-0, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-0 B1G Legends
Iowa’s Rankings:
AP:
USA Today:
BCS:
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2013 IOWA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE*

August 31st v. Northern Illinois, 3:42 pm, BTN
September 7th v. Missouri State, 12:05 pm, BTN
September 14th @ Iowa State, 6:00 pm, Fox Sports 1
September 21st v. Western Michigan, TBD
September 28th, @ •Minnesota, 3:35 pm, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
October 5th v. •Michigan State, 12:05 pm, TBD
October 12th - Bye Week #1
October 19th @ Ohio State, 3:35 pm, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
October 26th v. •Northwestern, TBD
November 2nd v. Wisconsin, TBD
November 9th @ Purdue, TBD
November 16th - Bye Week #2
November 23rd v. •Michigan, TBD
November 29th @ •Nebraska, 12:05 pm, ABC

•Big Ten Legends Division Game

*Times Eastern

Scouting Next Opponent: Missouri State v. Northwestern State, 8/29/13, 7:00 pm
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August 31st, 2013.  Iowa v. Northern Illinois Huskies, 0-0, 0-0 MAC
Previous Meetings: 8, Iowa leads 8-0
Last Meeting: 2012, Iowa 18, NIU 17, at Soldier Field

Current Line: Iowa -3.5

Turnover Margin: 0,  B1G FBS

Current Week 2 Deep:

Hawkeye Stat Pack (2012 season final)
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Offense
Total   310.4 Pass  187.4  Rush 123.0  Scoring 19.3
B1G    #11               #7             #12                  #11
FBS    #114             #99           #101                #111
Defense  
Total   381.5  Pass  219.5 Rush 162.0 Scoring 22.9
B1G    #9               #7                 #7                    #7
FBS    #49             #44               #63                  #33  
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2013 Outlook:

Fifth.  Or Sixth.

In the Division.

That’s the Legends division.  But only for one more year.

That, the general prognosis of most of the football experts.  Almost all of them, in fact, save a few Mark Mays out there, and a few homer Hawkeye writers.  Like…

So the players toil away in the hot summer sun, consigned to their fate that once again, Iowa fans will be finding solace in hoops season intersecting the end of the football season.

Maybe.

Or just maybe - the Hawkeye team will remember they were right there in 4 of those games they lost in 2012, and this year someone will make the plays to turn those close ones in the right direction.  

I mean, can the passing game be any worse?  We have known quantities and qualities of the pack of tailbacks/fullbacks, the tight ends, the offensive line.  It’s enough the think that in year 2 of Greg Davis’s offense, things are going to work a lot better.

And then there is the defense.  When you consider what comes back, three senior linebackers, a secondary again under the care of Parker The Younger, and a D line that may finally remind us (a bit) of the days of Roth and Babs and general chaos in the backfield.  

Of course, the schedule is daunting.  Trading the likes of Indiana and Penn State, for Ohio State and Wisconsin.  5 Big Ten teams are ranked in the new preseason poll, and the Hawks play all of them in the last 6 weeks of the season.  Scary.

Some would argue that this is just the way it should be - if you are going to make a name for yourself, it shouldn’t be easy.

2013 is the last year of the 12 team Big Ten.  On July 1st, 2014, Maryland and Rutgers join the B1G, and that will end the era of Legends and Leaders, sadly (ha), as the Hawkeyes join the new B1G West division.  Why talk about this now? 

Because if the Hawkeyes can put together a good year in 2013, the schedule sets up for a run to the B1G title game next season.  

So they work under the Iowa sun and the watchful eye of the coaches, preparing, scheming, working.  Ever closer comes the day.

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Yesterday was the annual Kids Day in Kinnick Stadium, and as we now sit 13 days and counting, some of the questions are beginning to be answered.  Namely, the quarterback.

And today, as we sit at 8 days and counting, it has been confirmed:  redshirt sophomore Jake Rudock will be the starter as the season begins.  He, a 6’3 205 lb QB from one of the nation’s elite high school programs in Florida.  As this went all through spring ball until now, it told us that the competition for this job was intense, but as Jake was the backup last year, it’s not surprising that he will begin the season in the number 1 spot.  But - it may also be like 2008 - where Stanzi did not emerge the winner until the Big Ten season opened.

Hand it off, Jake.  This year the Iowa tailbacks should begin to banish the plague that has struck the Hawkeye running game over the past few seasons.  Weisman, Canzeri, Bullock (he may be more a slot wideout, tbd), a couple of the redshirt freshmen, and one more.

He, a true freshman, who turned a lot of heads at the Kids Day scrimmage.  #29, LaShun Daniels, Jr.  6’1 and 215 before he gets a full season of Iowa Strength and Conditioning - more than a few Iowa fans in Kinnick were reminded of a young Mr. Greene.  

This loaded backfield will feature classic bruisers and classic speed, a Hawkeye thunder and lightening rushing attack.  Just what a new QB needs to find his way.

But we must be balanced, and so we must pass the ball.  Wideout has been a point of concern for Iowa fans this offseason, we have a senior in KMM, and flashes of some good from Cotton, and some of the younger guys in Smith and Hillyer.  Not adding up to an elite passing attack on the outside.

We need a playmaker, someone who can stretch the field when defenses hedge to slow up the Iowa rushers.

And we may have found him.  And not from the usual places, high schools, but a junior college.  #22, Damond Powell.  Last year he had 14 tds catches on 41 receptions totaling 1231 yards.  (waits while you do the math).  That’s 30 yards per catch, a ridiculous, video game type number at any level of football.  

Granted, junior college defenses don’t look like the Spartan, Buckeye, or Wolverine defenses.  But you don’t average that many yards if you are slow.  And in his public debut before Iowa fans, Powell showed the secret to his success - speed.

I see wide receiver screens - get it to him quickly, and let him take off.  I also see deep passes and letting him run under it.  When combined with our other weapons, he could be the real deal.

And while we don’t have known depth at that position, we do at the position that is often the Iowa Quarterbacks best friend - tight end.  

CJF now a senior, and looking to improve his draft status with a standout final season.  Hamilton, Duzey, we actually go 5 deep in this position, some more pure blockers, some more like large receivers.  All capable on the field.

Imagine - Rudock in the gun, and 5 tight ends lined up, and then streaking/lumbering down the field - the Hawkeye Run and Shoot!

All this behind and Iowa line that should emerge a classic Iowa O line - strong, flexible, and nasty.  

Year two of the Greg Davis offense.  It has to be better.  Perhaps even good.

And then there is the prospect of Iowa running a form of no huddle for much of the time.  Not a hurry up like some teams run, more of a get to the line with time left to analyze the defense and then change the play. I believe the model for this is Peyton Manning, a fairly good quarterback.

A better offense, one that converts 3rd downs, holds onto the ball, does something with it - will always help the defense.

That is by giving them rest.  A better Iowa offense will help the Iowa defense on that fact alone.  But we can also think the defense will just plain be better.  Better and more rested.

It starts up front of course, where when Iowa does well, we have stars at this position.

Maybe we have one.  And it’s not unexpected.  Carl Davis, now a junior, #71, at 6’5 and 315.  Flashes of his potential in the past, but never the consistency.  But it seems he has recommitted himself and in the public displays this spring and summer, he has been a menace to the first team Iowa offense.  

Trinca-Pasat will be next to Carl, he at 6’3 290, that’s a lot of beef in the middle.  

The ends, Ott on one side and Alvis on the other.  In the classic 4-3, the tackles clog up the middle and the ends attack the quarterback from the outside.  But just try and keep Mr. Davis away from the quarterbacks.  

They the starters, but playing against the offenses that we face these days, a healthy rotation on the D line is required.  And we should have it and we will use it.  Strength in numbers.

The three behind them, all seniors.  Kirksey, Morris, Hitchens.  That’s a lot of starts at the front of the back 7.  And there will be a lot of tackles, and some interceptions.

In the back, Lowery and Lomax at corner, with Miller at free safety and Lowdermilk has beat out Nico Law at strong safety.  This should be a position of strength, and much of it may come from the return of Phil Parker.

Parker, you may recall, ran the D backs during those years we were near the top of the NCAA in interceptions.  But when he was promoted to D Coordinator last year, he stopped overseeing the secondary.  This year, he returns to that role, while continuing to oversee the entire defense.  The Iowa players are excited to have him back.  And we may be entitled to once again see the Iowa secondary routinely changing games with thefts and pick-6s.

Maybe I’ll even have to bring back the linebackers v. secondary interception tracker.  We can dream.

Kicker Meyer, now a senior, we will need a good year out of him, and we can probably expect it.  Punter, Kornbrath, the 6’6 240 lb punter, now a sophomore, and he must do better than he did last year.  Which is not unreasonable to expect.  

The freshly released Iowa Two Deep has KMM on punt returns, and Cotton and Canzeri on kick returns.  I like it. In B1G games alone, Cotton had the highest kickoff return average in the conference last season.  Over under on 3 kick return tds this year?

Per usual, the younger defenders will cut their teeth on punt and kickoff returns.  Clearly these are important - hidden yardage and all.  

Put it all together, and what do we have.  The experts, not much.  We shall see if the players are paying attention.

Iowa will be better in 2013.  But the schedule gets harder, and somewhere in the balance, let’s hope the Hawkeyes serve notice that they are on the way back.

Week 1: Northern Illinois

Hello again, Huskies.

A lot of B1G teams are feasting on cupcakes to open the season, but the same cannot be said of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

A reminder, we beat the Huskies 18-17 in Soldier Field to open the 2012 season.  And there was happiness.

NIU would not lose another game until they got all the way to the Orange Bowl, where they faced Florida State.  The Huskies were only down 17-10 at the end of the 3rd, but the Seminoles scored 2 4th quarter touchdowns to ease to the 31-10 final.  

The Huskies are very high on the 2013 season, and why not - a BCS game, and a not so dark horse Heisman candidate at Quarterback.

He, senior Jordan Lynch. A first time starter in 2012, he passed for 3138 yards, with 25 tds and just 6 pics.  That, a pretty good passing season.  But Lynch is no pocket passer.  He also rushed 294 times for 1815 yards, and 19 more touchdowns.  That 1815 number  - an NCAA Division 1 rushing record for a quarterback.

Against the Hawkeyes in Chicago, he only completed 6 of 16 passes for 54 yards.  But he rushed 18 times for 119 yards - a 6.6 yard average per carry.  And then he got better.  

So the Hawkeye defense must be ready up front and in the back and in between with the linebackers.   They have got to lock him down and force him to throw the ball.  A well rested and rotated defense; fueled by a better Iowa offense, sustaining drives, converting 3rd downs.  NIU has other players of course, but Iowa must shut down the Huskie quarterback.

On defense, the Huskies must replace 7 starters, so it’s possible they will have some issues with the Iowa offense.  Keep in mind there is no tape of Rudock throwing a college pass - so they don’t know what they are getting until they see it.  

There was one other change for NIU, and that was at the top spot.  Their coach departed after just two seasons for the head job at NC State.  Into his position stepped the Huskie offensive coordinator, Rod Carey.  So his tenure begins on the road in front of 70,500 Iowa fans who will be starving for an end to the 6 game losing streak.

Iowa fans who need to be wearing white - or gold - as the temp on Saturday is going to be above the 95 degree mark.  In fact, the $4 bottles of water will only cost 2 bucks in Kinnick, there will be misting stations set up in all 4 corners of the concourse, and you can bring in more than 1 bottle of water yourself.  

Of course all the fans have to do is sit or stand there.  Not so the players.  And this could be an upside in the long run.

It would hold that we will need to be rotating players, early and often, in this kind of heat.  So much, in fact, that we might even dip below the 2 Deep in certain positions.  Thus getting kids some experience who might not be in the game should the temp be only 75 on game day.  And that is building depth - early in the season - that could do wonders for us as we head on into the Big Ten season.

And we will also find out if the heat, and Big Ten depth, can wear down a Mid American Conference team.  

If you are watching from the comfort of your home or bar, don’t be surprised to hear the booth guys overtly going for the Hawks - its a 3 man crew of Paul Burmeister, Chuck Long, and Danan Hughes.  Hawkeyes across the board.

Finally, we can now see what the post Vandenberg era will begin to look like. We bring back a stronger defense, an nearly unreal (of late) potential at tailback, exceptional tight ends, and the makings of a classic Iowa offensive line.  Our new quarterback comes from an elite high school program and has had two years to learn the offense and prepare.  The experts may not see it - and the Iowa players are assuredly aware that no one expects anything of them.  They can’t take out their frustration on the writers or talking heads though.  They must do it on the field.  And before long, The Bullies of The Big Ten may again roam the sideline in Kinnick Stadium

The Iowa rushing attack nets 180 plus, with two scores, and the new QB tosses two td passes in his debut, one to CJF, and one to Davis.  Meyer goes 1 for 1 on the new season after a drive stalls, his kick from 38 is dead center. 

The defense forces 3 NIU turnovers and we convert 2 of those into 10 points.  Final Iowa 31, Huskies 20.

Bandwagon gassed up, washed and polished, and a new Die Hard Battery (to last through the March Madness).  Good seats are available - don’t wait too long!

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And now, time for our annual cramming-as-much-football-into-the-holiday-weekend guide.

It all kicks off not long after these notes land in your inbox Thursday night!

Games start at 6:00 pm, but of note for B1G fans:

Indiana State @ Indiana, 7:00 pm
UNLV @ Minnesota, 7:00 pm. Both games on BTN.

Future B1G East member Rutgers @ Fresno State, 10:30 pm, ESPNU

And wrap up the night with USC @ Hawaii, 11:00 pm, CBSSN

Sleep, to sweet dreams of football.

Friday, games start at 7:00 pm, but turn your sets to:

Western Michigan @ Michigan State, 8:00 pm, BTN

Then wrap up the night with Northern Arizona @ Arizona, 10:00 pm, Pac 12 Network.

Not that we care much about Arizona, the goal is to watch as much football as possible.

Sleep.  If you can.

Saturday - the 12:00 pm kickoffs: aka brunch time before Iowa Football.

Buffalo at Ohio State, ESPN2.
UMass @ Wisconsin, BTN
Southern Illinois @ Illinois, BTN
Purdue @ Cincinnati, ESPNU

Florida International at Maryland, 12:30 pm, ESPN3

Clearly, you must be in a bar on Saturday afternoon.  It could be worse.

3:30 kickoffs:

Central Michigan @ Michigan, BTN - but only GameDay updates.
Northern Illinois @ Iowa, 3:42 kick, BTN
Syracuse @ Penn State, ABC/ESPN2 (regional)

Assuming you are still able to watch post Iowa game:

Best game at 7:00, Washington State at Auburn, ESPNU
Wyoming @ Nebraska, 8:00 pm, BTN
Northern Iowa @ Iowa State ummm….not on your tv anywhere around here.

So wait an hour and go with LSU @ TCU, 9:00 pm, ESPN.

Then wrap up your Saturday with Northwestern at Cal, 10:30 pm, ESPN2.

Sleep/pass out.

Two games on Sunday:
Ohio @ Louisville, 3:30, ESPN.
Colorado @ Colorado State, 6:00 pm, CBSSN

And wrap up the football weekend on Monday with:
Florida State @ Pitt, 8:00 pm, ESPN.

Be a true sports fanatic by watching the US Open during down times.  Oh wait, it’s on CBS, and for those of us with Time Warner Cable...never mind.

That should have you all set to go for the looming College Saturday/NFL Sunday bender that begins next week!

In other words - the most wonderful time of the year!


GO HAWKS!!!
SEDGE




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