News, Notes, and News
The two-deeps are here, but it's absolutely worth noting that they're inaccurate; Tyler Nielsen is out with a broken effing neck, Adam Robinson is probably not going to go this week (nor should he), and there's no telling whether Troy Johnson can actually put in four quarters. Ben Chappell is reportedly dinged up, but if he's rendered more immobile, well, would anybody be able to tell?
Okay, people, look. Iowa should beat Indiana. The line's 17 points. But here's the thing.
Indiana typically plays Iowa tough. We don't need to talk about what happened when James Hardy and Adam Shada both said "hey let's see what happens when we play against each other," but last year was thisclose to full-on debacle status until the Hoosiers were screwed out of a touchdown, Tyler Sash played pinball, and the wind turned on Indiana in the fourth.
Iowa has those injury problems. With Robinson on the mend from a concussion, literally the only running backs on the roster are true freshman Marcus Coker, redshirt freshman fullback Brad Rogers, and true freshman tailback De'Andre Jackson (yes, there are fullbacks, but if Ken O'Keefe actually calls Brett Morse's number more than five times tomorrow, we'll be a little surprised).
Meanwhile, at linebacker, the freshman parade marches on. James Morris is definitely starting, Shane DiBona is probably starting, and Christian Kirksey is probably playing. Against a skilled set of backs and receivers, this unit should be tested early and often--especially in coverage, which requires far more experience and discipline than scraping to a gap in run support.
AND AND AND, while Chappell hasn't had the most efficient season, it's certainly been prolific, and if there's one way Iowa consistently gets hurt by opposing quarterbacks over the last few years, how has it happened? By guys who are used to throwing 30+ times a game, throwing quick three-step routes and scheming away from the defensive line's pursuit strength. What can Chappell do as well as just about anybody in the Big Ten? THAT.
ANNNNNND OMG YOU GUYS IF THERE'S A SNOWSTORM THAT ONLY HITS WHEN IOWA HAS THE BALL THEN MAYBE TH
THE HEADLINE MAKES SENSE NOW
Okay, barbershop man. Point well taken. Iowa is still far more physically talented than Indiana, and the Hoosier defense should be almost as much of a laugher as Michigan's gang of 11 Awful Men. If Ricky Stanzi has to throw the ball 35 times for the offense's sake, so much the better, because there isn't a more efficient quarterback this side of Boise, Idaho (and even that's not much of a gap). Of course, some of Stanzi's efficiency has been predicated on the threat of the run that doesn't exist as much this weekend, so that efficiency may take a dip, but the fact remains that there are few more talented passers in the NCAA--and few more porous pass defenses.
As for Indiana's offensive attack, the only opposing defense it has seen that's any better than Iowa's is Ohio State, and that was a 38-10 cakewalk for the Buckeyes (incidentally: walking through cake would seem to be more difficult than normal walking. DEVELOPING...). Expect the DL to pin its ears back, the linebackers to look pass first, the secondary to play for short routes, and the defense as a whole to make Indiana work for its first downs. That's not to say this'll be a shutout; probably not. But look, let's say Chappell goes 27-43, 247 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions. Sounds like a pretty decent day for him, and maybe a little cause for Iowa fans to wonder if this secondary "maybe isn't very good after all."
But here's the thing: that line A: would almost certainly result in a Hawkeye victory, and B: approximates Iowa's current pass efficiency defense to within .04 of a point. Granted, it's a little more eventful per pass attempt in terms of both touchdowns and interceptions, but that's probably to be expected from an opposing offense that relies so heavily on the pass--especially in the red zone.
The point is this: Iowa's pass defense is going to be put to work on Saturday, but there's not much to indicate that they can't rise to the task, even if it means Indiana gets in the end zone once or twice. One of two Indiana TDs shouldn't be a concern for Iowa.
As mentioned on the podcast, I picked Iowa 38, Indiana 13, although I could see this being something of a game even into the 3rd quarter; if it's 17-10 Iowa at the break, after all, nobody would really be surprised, but Stanzi's too good and this opposing defense is too soft for Iowa's offense to be kept in check for four quarters. Like last year, as much as Ferentz would like to get up big early and sit the starters, I expect Iowa to put the pressure on for basically four quarters. This could even be 24-13 with 10 minutes to play, and I wouldn't be surprised--nor would I be if Iowa responded with two late TDs anyway. That's the nature of the game against a lousy opposing defense; they'll break sooner or later. Or should I say HOOSIER OR LATER. Yup--nailed it. Man, I'm good at these jokes.