[I wrote this at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28. Saturday's performance was the most bizarre, fact-blind, ignore-what's-happening, why adjust? offensive game management I can remember. As it turns out.]
Saturday, Sept. 28, 11 a.m.
We're nine years into this program, and there's a startling question on the table: who are we? We have no identity on one side of the ball.
Our defense is an Iowa defense: athletic linebackers, cover 2, and we'll punch you in the mouth. So far we're wasting one of Iowa's finest defenses while our offense performs some sort of painful football version of navel gazing.
Our offense has shown up for 2 quarters this year, if measured by production. We have no identity on offense, and with no identity we have no consistency. Obviously, with this D, we are 4-0 if the offense performs at a B level -- not B+, certainly not A. Last year's offense, psycho artist at QB or not, gets us to 4-0. The offense, as Ferentz likes to put it, is a "developmental" effort.
It's pretty unusual for a program 9 years in to be rebuilding as drastically as Iowa is rebuilding. This is not reloading, it's rebuilding. Can we block? Can we catch? Does our QB need a shrink yet trying to put piece parts together while being getting bludgeoned by angry men with axe handles for arms?
We have come out with two distinct offensive schemes, even acknowledging that Ferentz still treats nonconference games like the NFL in August. At Wisconsin we introduced the four wide, get the ball to the edge approach; inexplicably we took away the design QB draws and added no new QB running plays, and returned to the middle of the field, wrestling with people in the scrum. Inexplicably, we re-introduced an obsolete open field offense worthy of a good late 90's team, the I, shut ourselves down, and watched the game get away. Running the I is just a billboard notice to defenses these days to pack the center of the field and rush 6. Running the I is like driving with no air in the tires. No one runs it successfully, much less with an immature line that is struggling to make its reads in the face of flying-frenzied-pilled linebackers and DBs.
I don't know why we haven't chosen yet how we're going to play offense, and given the youth of this offense, how we can assume they can play two wildly distinct schemes in a conference where what is old news (oooh, play action!) is fish-wrap.
Meanwhile, the mantra of "we're a developmental team" generates this strange pall of expectation and dread. Do we run the table? Do we go 4-8? Can we beat Northwestern for the first time since 2002? Was Texas just a fluke, a cocky hometeam laughing through film and then getting jumped by the motivated farmboys? Why do we play like some games can be won without innovation or surprise? When was the last time we had two backs as complimentary, powerful and ignored as now?
I don't know who this offense is. In football, you have to know who you are. A decade in, we're trying on different shoes and seeing what fits. We lose to a laughingstock and then come back and fight Wisc to the end. No one succeeds unless they know who they are. We could beat Indiana by 30, or lose by 20, and neither would surprise me.
We have two guys (Sims and DJK) who can dial 9 (for long distance) every single time they touch the ball -- and they touched the ball 15 times last week. Bizarro.
Perhaps the injuries will force some manhood on KOK and we'll commit to a scheme that pushes the ball to the edge so that Young can run off-tackle again. That would certainly be an improvement over lining up on the I and pinning the "Crush me" sign to Jakes chest. If we don't beat these suckers today I don't have a good feeling at all about this year, and .500 may be an accomplishment. This, nine years in. What a waste of a superior D.