FanPost

Play Calling tells story of the season

In Iowa's 7 wins this year, the play calling has been fairly balanced, averaging 25 passes and 30 rushes. In the Hawks' 4 losses, that trend is totally reversed (it also fell this way in the game against IU, which they were handed by D'amarlo Belcher's slippery fingers) averaging out at 35 passes and 21 rushes.

By itself, this might not really mean anything, if they had been playing from behind a lot (which they haven't been), it might be understandable. But what this Hawk fan doesn't get is why, especially when they've had a lead, do they completely abandon the run on possession downs?

Setting aside the Arizona game, which saw Angry Stoops' crew jump out to a 14 point lead, Iowa has had a lead in the 4th quarter of all of their losses (and the near loss to IU). In those 4 losses (and 1 should've lost) Iowa has averaged 21.8 points. In their 7 wins they've averaged 33.4 points. To me, the most obvious difference (as well as the most inexplicable) is the disappearance of the running game in the 4(5) losses.

My question, I suppose, is when the hell did IA decide that it was a pass first team. Gone are the play-action ball fakes that Stanzi is so good at making, gone is the pounding ground game that is Iowa football. Gone are the hard earned victories gutted out by the big uglies in the trenches.

Instead, what this fan has seen the last 3 Saturdays are long passes on 1st down, followed by short runs over right tackle on second down, leading to long (and unfortunately rarely converted) third downs and punts. Adam Robinson who is averaging over 100 yards per game and Marcus Coker (who in the games he's seen significant playing time is showing shades of Shonn Green), have been marginalized for the sake of long, often incomplete passes.

Saturdays game was a prime example. 1st quarter they come out running, Coker picks up 43 yards on 7 carries (6.1 yds per carry). 2nd quarter, Robinson rushes the ball twice for 8 yards. 3rd quarter, Robinson carries 4 times for 4 yards. 4th quarter, Robinson carries twice for 11 yards, Coker twice for 27 yards. I remind you that Iowa was leading (or tied) during 3 of 4 fourth quarter possessions.

Yes, it's more than the offense. Special teams have been pretty bad all year and the defense is really missing a solid linebacker corps, but I think the play calling has been a significant part of the problem all season. More than that, it's a problem that has gotten little or no attention, at least from what I've read, in the press or the blogosphere. Iowa's offense has routinely failed to produce long drives when they needed them, even when they do score. The disappearance of the running game, in my opinion, has a lot to do with that.

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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