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Still unclear about Weisman. He wasn't listed in the two-deeps that were released earlier today, but I generally don't read too much into that. Coach Ferentz typically keeps things pretty close to the vest, but we should find out more at tomorrow's press conference. Wouldn't be surprised if Weisman ends up playing, but it's still up in the air.
As far as special teams, Iowa hasn't had many big returns at all this year. Jordan Cotton returned a kickoff for a touchdown on Saturday, but it was called back due to a completely unnecessary block in the back. Both he and Greg Garmon - the other KO returner - are pretty explosive, but that was the first return all year that Iowa blocked really well. As far as punt returns go, Micah Hyde is the returner, and he's definitely capable. But Iowa's philosophy on punt returns seems to be that the catch is the most important thing, and the return isn't as big of a deal. So while he's capable of breaking one, the Hawkeyes generally aren't that dangerous on punt returns.
Defensively, I think Iowa's strength is the linebacking corps. All three guys - James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey, are physical, explosive and have good range. Much better than the 2011 group. I'd say these are the three best playmakers on Iowa's defense.
Definitely a hot button topic. There are a lot of Hawkeye fans that think he can do no wrong. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of fans that think Iowa should be doing much better considering how much money Ferentz makes. And then there are obviously people in between as well. My best guess is that it's pretty even, maybe with a 60-40 edge on Ferentz's side. Of course, winning cures all, so there hasn't been nearly as much criticism after the past two games, but it was ugly after the debacle against Central Michigan.
Still up in the air, as I mentioned in another post. If he can't go, I'd assume Greg Garmon starts.
On the season, Iowa actually has 207 rushing attempts, next to 195 passing attempts, so the Hawkeyes are pretty balanced this year. The running game has been much more effective than the passing game thus far, so it'd make sense for Iowa to focus a little more on that, but ideally, the Hawkeyes would like to stay as balanced as possible.
As far as James Vandenberg goes, he's taken an enormous amount of heat from Hawkeye fans this year. As I explained in another post, I think some of it's deserved, but a lot of it isn't. From having watched him play a lot, I can tell that he just isn't comfortable right now, because he looks noticeably worse than he did last year. But by the same token, he's still made a few phenomenal passes this year to show that he's still got it, and made the biggest pass of his career with the game on the line on Saturday in the Michigan State game. I do think the passing game will improve at some point this year, but the $1 million question is when it'll happen.
Iowa does have some flaws as a team, and those flaws likely aren't going to drastically improve this season. Because of that, Iowa is capable of losing to anyone (see: Central Michigan), but the Hawkeyes are also capable of beating anyone on the schedule because they have an effective running game on offense and can stop the run on defense.
I think this is shaping up to be a heck of a matchup Saturday night, and would be surprised to see either team blow the other one out. Since Iowa isn't really good enough to just overwhelm the opponent and blow them out, I don't know that there's really anything to be scared of, but the Hawkeyes are definitely capable of winning in any given week.
As you probably know, he tore his ACL back in April. He's made a remarkably fast recovery, and has been practicing full go for several weeks now. My impression is that Iowa is still trying to decide whether or not to redshirt him this year, as it may not make a lot of sense to use him as a backup running back this late in the season. He hasn't played yet this year, but he's listed as the second team running back on the two-deeps that were released today. If Weisman and Bullock (another recently-injured running back) can't go on Saturday, then the only two backs Iowa would have behind Garmon would be Canzeri and Michael Malloy, a true freshman. It's a similar situation with Malloy, as he hasn't taken any snaps this year, so I think Iowa would prefer to maintain his redshirt. If ever there was a week where Canzeri would play, it's probably this week. That being said, even if Garmon is the only available back that has played this year, I could see Iowa giving him the bulk of the carries, and then using the fullback (Brad Rogers) for a few snaps at tailback to spell Garmon.
This post was edited by Todd Worly 18 months ago
Should have more on the injury situation after tomorrow's press conference.
Iowa's passing game has struggled this year, for a variety of reasons that I've discussed in other posts. There aren't any overly explosive players in the receiving corps, so outside of a blown coverage, Iowa doesn't pose too much of a threat to hit a big play in the passing game. One guy that I would expect to become more involved in the offense in the near future is CJ Fiedorwicz. He's a huge tight end, and he's a heck of an athlete for his size, so he presents significant matchup problems for whoever is covering him. For whatever reason, Iowa hasn't been able to get him the ball much this year, but I'd be surprised if that doesn't become more of a priority soon.
Iowa's strength on offense has been the running game. Weisman has had a heck of a season, and I don't want to take anything away from him, but he's also had a number of massive, massive holes to run through that his backups would have benefited from as well. So while it's not ideal if he can't go on Saturday, I still think Iowa's running game is close to as dangerous even without him. That being said, as expected, Iowa had a much more difficult time running the ball on Michigan State than on the previous opponents. Like the Spartans, the Nittany Lions also have a very good front seven, so it'll be much more difficult for Iowa to gash Penn State on the ground.
Thank you Todd. I know it's your job and all, but I can't help but be impressed. Well done sir.
Great questions here, as this has been a much-discussed topic among Iowa fans. As a pure passer, I think James Vandenberg is very good WHEN HE'S COMFORTABLE. He clearly hasn't been comfortable on a consistent basis this year, but he's shown flashes at times. So I said all of that to say that I think he's certainly capable of hitting the deep ball on anyone. That being said, Iowa's pass protection hasn't been as good as it needs to be, and the receiving corps isn't exactly filled with deep threats.
Greg Davis is in his first year as offensive coordinator, and there has been a noticeable change in Iowa's approach, as the Hawkeyes are throwing a lot more short (5 yards or less) passes than in previous years. Whether that's because Davis doesn't feel like Iowa is capable of throwing the ball down the field, for the reasons above, or it's just because those are the plays he prefers to call, remains to be seen.
At least until now, Iowa has primarily focused on the short and intermediate passing game.
I'd expect Iowa to play mostly zone, unless Penn State starts hurting Iowa through the air, and the Hawkeyes are forced to blitz in order to generate pressure.
If BJ Lowery (typically a starting CB, but sat out the last two games with an injury) is available on Saturday, then I think Iowa is pretty solid at corner. The linebackers, particularly Kirksey, are also pretty good in coverage. I think the safeties are the weakest link of Iowa's back seven at this point.
Strengths: running the ball and stopping the run.
Weaknesses: passing offense and pass defense, which is primarily due to the below average passrush.
As I mentioned in another post, it'd definitely be ideal for Iowa if Weisman can play. But I don't think it makes a major difference either way, as the other backs on the roster could have had similar success as he did if they'd had the same amount of carries.
As I mentioned in another post, I think this team is capable of beating anyone on the schedule, but could easily lose to anyone on the schedule as well. For this team to emerge as legitimate contenders to make it to Indianapolis, the passrush has to get much, much better. The defensive tackles are coming along, but I don't think the Hawkeyes have the horses at defensive end this year. On the other side of the ball, the passing game needs to click as soon as possible. As I mentioned earlier, I think there are a number of reasons for Iowa's struggles in the passing game, so it's not like there's one particular solution.
I really like Iowa's rotation at defensive tackle at this point. Several explosive, high-motor guys that can change the line of scrimmage and provide some semblance of a passrush. The defensive ends are generally pretty good against the run as well, but the biggest problem is that they've really struggled rushing the passer. That's been a severe problem for Iowa for the past two seasons now, as opposing quarterbacks routinely have all day back there. No matter how good your back seven is, they can't cover forever.
As I mentioned in some other posts, I think Vandenberg has taken too much heat from Hawkeye fans this year. He clearly has room for improvement in his game, but I don't think the passing game's struggles are even close to all his fault. I don't think he fully trusts his offensive line or his receivers yet, and he and his teammates are also trying to adjust to a new offensive system. Not easy for a fifth year senior to lose three offensive linemen to the NFL, including both tackles, lose the best receiver in school history and try to acclimate himself in a new offense.
I've addressed the defense and special teams in other posts.
And I feel like I'm missing out on an inside joke with this scandal. Can you elaborate?
1) Just saw the highlights.
2 and 2a) Just shows how big of a fan you are!
3) Haven't heard anything about that lately, but as you know, the ball is in his court. I don't think Iowa will actively pursue him unless he initiates it.
4) It'll be sold out, but there will definitely be scalpers out there. All depends on how much you're willing to spend, but I'm also probably not the best expert on that stuff, as I've never had to pay to go to an Iowa game. Keep in mind, though, that the annual night game gets the most buzz out of all home games in Iowa City, so the asking prices may be a bit steeper than normal. On the other hand, with a later kickoff, you'd have plenty of time to circulate and see what's available.
First, let me repeat the thanks for the kind words and your willingness to answer our questions.
I was just curious - what is the story with the loss of commits for Iowa and Mich?
Told ya he's a Nite Owl
Thanks for the feedback Todd! It's shaping up to be a battle royale on Saturday!
October 12, 2013. PSU 43 - UM 40 (4 OT). Unfortunately this fan wasn't around long enough to see it!
Why would anybody ever hire Greg Davis? Previous connection to the staff?
He was garbage in Austin, and was the reason OU could compete with them during the Vince and Colt years
This post was edited by Texas Lion 18 months ago
Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS
Thanks for welcoming me - I'm having a blast so far.
David Kenney was a defensive end that was the first 2013 commit for Iowa back in April. His dad was hired in June as the Quality Controls for Recruiting at Indiana, and the Hoosiers have recruited him as hard as possible. Iowa had held Indiana off for awhile, but it looks like he'll be committing to Indiana in the near future. Crushing blow for the Hawkeyes, as he was one of the top players in Iowa's 2013 class and plays a position of enormous need.
David Dawson is an offensive lineman from Detroit that committed to Michigan back in February. As you might expect, other schools continued to recruit him after he committed. Michigan has a no-visit policy, and he wanted to take some more visits, so there was a mutual decision to part ways.
And you're welcome - really enjoying interacting with you all so far.
I think the verdict's still out on him in terms of his success at Iowa. Ferentz (or any of the other Iowa coaches) and Davis didn't have any connections from the past, but Ferentz said he was impressed with the way Davis was able to adjust his scheme to the skillsets of various quarterbacks (Young, McCoy, Simms, etc.) and running backs (Benson, Williams, etc.) throughout his career at several different schools.
Also, appreciate the insight.
Always nice to get a little scouting report on the opponent a few days before.
He did a nice job switching from the pro style with Benson and Williams (who I still respect the hell out of, even as a Sooner fan) to the spread with Young and McCoy, but the switch back with Gilbert was disastrous.
I can't really blame him for anything Simms did, as he wasn't too solid either.
Many fans in Austin thought Vince and Colt hid a lot of his playcalling deficiencies, and nobody thought he stretched the field as often as he should have. A lot of people thought he fell in love with the sideline-to-sideline type passes.
That being said, he has a mNC, and the offenses under Benson, WIlliams, Colt, and Vince were extremely effective. I'll be interested to see how he has changed from Texas until now.
Really do appreciate the insight though.
you've been awesome thank you!!!
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