December 31, 2014

The Eternal Season - Sedge's 2014 Hawkeye Football Game Notes, The 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, Iowa v. Tennessee

Sedge's Hawkeye Football Game Notes - 2014 Edition
Iowa’s Record: 7-5, 4-4 Big Ten, 3-3 B1G West 
Iowa’s Rankings:
USA Today: 
College Football Playoff:

August 30th v. Northern Iowa, WIN 31-23
September 6th v. Ball State, WIN 17-13
September 13th v. Iowa State, Loss 20-17
September 20th @ Pittsburg, WIN 24-20
September 27th @ •Purdue, WIN 24-10
October 11th v. Indiana, WIN 45-29
October 18th @ Maryland, Loss 38-31
November 1st v. •Northwestern, WIN 48-7
November 8th, @ •Minnesota, Loss 51-14
November 15th @ •Illinois, WIN 30-14
November 22nd v. •Wisconsin, Loss 26-24
November 28th v. •Nebraska (Black Friday), Loss 37-34, OT

•Big Ten West Division Game

*Times Eastern

Scouting next opponent: returns next August

2015 TaxSlayer Bowl v. Tennessee, January 2nd, 2015, 3:20 PM - ESPN

Wondering which BTN channel we are on? Click, enter, find.
January 2nd, 2015.  Iowa v. Tennessee Volunteers, 6-6. 3-5 SEC East (4th)
Previous Meetings: 2, series tied 1-1
Last Meeting: 1987 Kickoff Classic, Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, Vols 23 Hawks 22

Current Line: Iowa +3.5

Turnover Margin: -5,  B1G #11, FBS #99

Current Week 2 Deep:

Hawkeye Stat Pack - 2014 - Regular season
Total   398.3  Pass 242.0 Rush 156.3  Scoring 28.3
B1G    #6             #4               #10                  #7
FBS    #65           #53             #71                  #67
Total   334.5  Pass 175.8  Rush 158.8    Scoring 24.0
B1G    #6              #2                #6                   #7
FBS    #21            #8                #55                 #35 
The New Big Ten:
West                             East
Iowa                              Michigan
Nebraska                      Michigan State
Minnesota                     Ohio State
Wisconsin                     Penn State
Illinois                            Indiana
Northwestern                Maryland
Purdue                          Rutgers

Big Ten West Standings:
Wisconsin 10-2, 7-1 B1G, 5-1 B1G West
Nebraska           9-3, 5-3 B1G, 4-2 B1G West
Minnesota   8-4, 5-3 B1G, 4-2 B1G West
Iowa                  7-5, 4-4 B1G, 3-3 B1G West
Illinois           6-6, 3-5 B1G, 2-4 B1G West
Northwestern   5-7, 3-5 B1G, 2-4 B1G West
Purdue           3-9, 1-7 B1G, 1-5 B1G West
2015 TaxSlayer Bowl

Well friends, when the season ended and we had time to think about what had happened, it seemed many Iowa fans considered this the biggest disappointment of the Kirk Ferentz era.  Sure, there have been teams with fewer wins and more losses, one just two seasons ago.  But when we looked at what we had in August, and how the schedule laid out in front of us…
To recap on that point.  The hardest division games (Badgers, Huskers) in Kinnick.  Avoiding the traditional and new powers in the other division (no Buckeyes, Spartans, or Wolverines).  Of course, we probably wish we could have played the 5-7 Michigan team this year.

To face this schedule we started with an Iowa offensive line with a likely Outland Trophy finalist anchoring it (in fact, he won that award), keeping our returning and junior QB Jake nice and clean behind them.

And there were, yes, multiple tailbacks - Mark, the power bruiser, Jordan, the lightening in a bottle, Damon, likely to be used more in the slot this year, and Daniels Jr, some thinking he reminded them of a young Mr Greene.

And then the defense - sure, we needed three new linebackers, but it’s not like the new guys had not played before, even a start here and there.  In front of them, real beef on the inside, and some speed on the outside, looking like a throwback Iowa D line, perhaps reminding us of Roth and Babs from play to play.

In the back, playmakers.  You do see above where our pass defense ended up.  

The special teams - ehh, we were well into August and not really knowing who would do the kicking, and who would win out in the punting.  The kicking would solidify as the year went on.  The punting never got to the level we wanted, and of course, the punt coverage was exposed in the season ending loss.

But going into the first game - the schedule, the returning players - it seemed like at least 10-2 was likely.

And then, with two games to play, sitting at 7-3, and having a very real shot at the Big Ten title game, (the Rodents would in fact lose to the Badgers to end the season, which we needed), we just needed those two final games in the friendly confines of Kinnick and we would be there. 

And of course, we could not get that done.  Both in rather excruciating fashion.  

In the end, we never got our supposed power running game going.  The QB play was not really bad, but it did bog down, and we were left to wonder why the coaches were not trying something different to spark the team.  

The defense did not kill the rushing attack like our best teams have done, part of that was the new linebackers, part of it probably not having enough quality depth to really go two or three deep on the D line.  

And that is how our season of potential ended up 7-5.  

But there is some good news, and that is by having our bowl game on January 2nd (see, no matter how bad the Iowa season seems to be, we get the New Year’s Day - or later - bowl games), the Iowa Football team has had over a month to practice, hit the weights, and game plan for the game ahead.  Ready to face another SEC team - and smack them in the mouth.

The Volunteers are 6-6 on the year - a team that is under the second year of the Butch Jones era, that is a one game improvement from the 5-7 2013 team.  But most feel that Jones will have them back competing for SEC East titles in the near future.  Tennessee is only the 8th school to win 800 college football games, but after going 1-7 in the SEC in both 2011 and 2012, the Vols found that the likes of Bama, LSU, and Auburn (all in the West) had passed them by, and in their own division, it was hard enough with Florida, Georgia, and even South Carolina, who had become relevant under the Ole Ball Coach.

So Jones was brought in to change the mindset, and after two seasons, there is work to be done.  Like the Hawks, the Vols had some good ones, and some mind numbing losses.

They opened by hosting Utah State. The Aggies had won 20 games between 2012 and 2013, but they were a known quantity, and their 3 turnovers helped Tennessee to an easy 38-7 victory.  

In week 2 Arkansas State came to Knoxville (Yes! the team that The Paper Tigers ducked Iowa for) and they played the Vols a bit closer, but lost 34-19.  

Sitting at 2-0, the Vols went on the road to Norman - to face the (then) 4th ranked Sooners.

Bob’s boys (boy did they get shellacked last night) jumped out to a 13-0 lead on the Vols, and Tennessee scored to bring that within 13-7, but then the Sooners pushed the lead to 27-7, and it ended up 34-10.  So Tennessee opened the SEC schedule at 2-1.  

They went back on the road to Athens, to face the (then) #12 ranked Bulldogs.

This was quite a game, two division rivals, as the Vols had a 10-7 lead to end the 1st, which then had turned to a 21-17 lead for Georgia by halftime.  There was no scoring in the 3rd, and the teams traded TDs two times in the 4th, with the Dogs prevailing 35-32.   Of note in the that, Georgia tailback Gurley ran for 208 yards on the Vols defense.  But it was the fact the Tennessee QB missed a few series in the 3rd due to injury that might have been the difference in the game.

So the Vols were now 2-2, and 0-1 in the SEC.  

Back at home in Knoxville, the Gators came calling.

And if you watched this one, I am sorry.  

The Vols actually had a 9-0 lead on the Gators entering the 4th quarter - and then lost, 10-9.

Total offense for Florida - 232.
For Tennessee, 233.

This, the 10th straight time the Gators had topped the Vols.  Like I said before, the modern SEC not so nice to Tennessee.

In the SEC they like to start the conference season early (which the Big Ten may adopt when we go to 9 games in 2016), so the Vols then hosted Chattanooga.  Tennessee won it, 45-10.

Now, you might think they had like 1000 yards of something.  

They did not.  In the win, 217 passing, 123 running  340 total.  

The Vols were now 3-3.  Up next, (then) #3 ranked Ole Miss.

This was in Oxford, and they were not gracious hosts.  Ole Miss beat Tennessee 34-3.

Of note, Vols net rushing - zero.  

Oh, and their senior QB was hurt in this one, and up next - 4th ranked (now #1) Alabama.  But at least it was a home game for Tennessee!

The senior could not go, so they started a sophomore, and the Tide defense said ‘thank you’ and gave Alabama a 27-0 lead about 3 minutes into the 2nd quarter.  

But the Vols put in another sophomore and he sparked the team, as they got within 27-17 with just under 6:00 left in the 3rd, but the Tide pulled away for a 34-20 final.  

That sophomore, Dobbs, got the start the next week as the Vols went to visit South Carolina.

And what a game this was - it was 7-7 at the end of the 1st, 21-14 Tennessee at halftime, and then 28-21 South Carolina at the end of the 3rd.  

The Gamecocks would then build that lead to 42-28 with 4:52 left in the 4th.

But - the Vols scored with 1:50 left to make it 42-35, and then they got the ball back, and they scored with 11 seconds left to catch the Gamecocks at 42 and force overtime.

The Vols had the ball first, could only manage a field goal, and had a 45-42 lead.

But then the Vols defense sacked the South Carolina QB two times on successive plays, so the Gamecocks had to attempt a 58 yard field goal, and it was never close.  Final, Tennessee 45, Ole Ball Coach 42.

The Vols were now 4-5 and 1-4 in the SEC.

In his first start, Dobbs was 23 of 301 yards, with two TDs and one interception.  But he was also the Vols leading rusher  - with 24 carries for 166 yards, and three TDs.  The 166 - a school record for a quarterback.

The Vols home stretch started with a visit from Kentucky.  Not the basketball team.

And Tennessee won, 50-16.  

That, the Vol’s 29th win, in the last 30 games, over Kentucky.  In football.

Then the Paper Tigers came calling.  
This, another close game.  13 all at halftime, the 3rd ended with a 16-13 Missouri lead.  

But the Paper Tigers got two 4th quarter TDs. and the Vols could only get 1, to lose 29-21.  

Vols, 2 turnovers, Paper Tigers, 0.

So Tennessee sat at 5-6. 2-5 in the SEC, with 1 game left for bowl eligibility.

But fortunately for them, the SEC has another football doormat.  Vanderbilt.  

However, the Commodores actually outgained Tennessee 272 to 262, but not on the scoreboard.  The Vols won it, but only 24-17, so it’s not like they rolled into bowl season with an impressive victory.

So the question then - senior QB Worley, #14, who has not played since the Ole Miss game with the shoulder injury.  For him, 157 out of 252, for 1579 yards, with 12 tds, but 8 interceptions.  He, the pure pocket passing QB.  

Or the sophomore Dobbs, who has played since the Alabama game.  96 for 156, with 1077 yards, and 8 touchdowns, but 5 picks.  The Missouri defense held him to 13 yards on 17 carries, but of course he does have that school record.  

The top pass catcher, junior Pig Howard, #2.  52 catches for 589 yards, but just 1 TD.  He does however have 2 rushing TDs, so the Hawks must be aware of him in the backfield on jet sweeps and the like.

When it comes to the actual running, the top tailback is actually a freshman, #1, Hurd.  174 carries for 777 yards, with 3 rushing TDs.  

He also has 33 catches out of the backfield on the year, with 2 receiving touchdowns.  So the Iowa defense must be prepared for that.  

The Vols have actually used freshman all over the field this year, as many as 21 have played at some point, so they are definitely a young team.

While the Iowa defense must be prepared for which Tennessee quarterback will take the field, there was word this week that the Volunteer defense must do the same.

That’s right - after the season ended, Kirk basically said that all positions would be opened up during the bowl practices.  And on Monday, word came from Greg Davis that - 

Both Iowa quarterbacks will play.

Jake will start, but it sounds like they will alternate series during the 1st half, so C.J. will have his chances to show what he can do.  It’s thought that whoever does better will have the second half, but we will have to see what happens.  It would be hard to alternate by possession if one QB is doing very well and leading Iowa to touchdowns.

Which both quarterbacks should be able to do.  In back to back weeks, the Tennessee defense allowed receivers to set school records against them.  The Alabama game, Cooper, 9 catches for 224 yards, the next week it was another Cooper, but a Gamecock, that caught 11 passes for 233 yards.  

It may happen again Friday, as KMM is 3 catches away from passing DJK for the most in Iowa history.  He and Smith could have big days, especially if Iowa can get the running game going.  Young defenders, very susceptible to play action.
Can Iowa find the running game?  The Vols defense gives up 162 per game, but they have not faced the Outland Trophy winner yet.  It is the last game for him, and for Mark behind him.  Look for Mark and a healthy Jordan to top 200 against the Vols on the ground.  With about 50 yards thrown in from C.J.

You have to think that since both Jake and C.J know the other will be playing, they are going to break out the play action early and attack down the field.  Check downs are not in the playbook this week, we must attack the Tennessee defense, and that will in turn open up the clock eating power running game.

If the Vols didn’t have to rely on 21 freshman this year, I’d be a lot less certain about this game.  Iowa is used to the January bowl games, used to meeting SEC teams, used to choking much better offenses that Tennessee has.  

Iowa churns it’s way to 510 total yards, and the Iowa defense forces the Vols into 3 turnovers.  Hawks 41, Vols 20.


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