Ball State Preview: Set The Tone

It's Friday, which means it's time to preview tomorrow's game. We used to call this "There's A Game On Saturday?", but as it turns out, nobody googles that. So the boring title is your fault.

News, Notes, and News

Here are Iowa's two-deeps. Of note is that Paki O'Meara has, predictably, been ruled out of tomorrow's contest since the 2-deeps were published. That means Marcus Coker will probably be next in line if Adam Robinson doesn't want to take every single carry. De'Andre Johnson, another true freshman, may also be in the mix. Kirk Ferentz can't enjoy the proposition of burning both players' redshirts, though. Ball State misses two regular offensive linemen and will be hurting up front; other than that, the Cardinals should be close to full strength too.

Keys to the Game

Ball State has given up opening drive touchdowns in all three games played this season and, going back to the start of 2009, 11 of 15 contest. We're going to need to see Iowa establish some dominance in this game, after all, if we want some fears assuaged after last week's loss.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have some issues on the offensive line, and Iowa should dominate the LOS here. The worry here is that Stan Parrish and his coaches are acutely aware of this disparity and will take some lessons from Arizona's game plan: short routes, 3-step drops, limited rushes between the tackles, and some efforts to get their diminutive tailbacks the ball in space. What does this mean for Iowa's defense? JUMP SOME ROUTES! Ball State is using freshman Keith Wenning at QB; he's not likely to outsmart Iowa's pass defense quite yet.

And on that note, it'd be nice to see Tyler Sash closer to the LOS on Saturday and wreaking a little more havoc than he's done so far this season; he's Iowa's best player in the back 7, after all, and he's got to have more productive value than as a deterrent for throwing over the middle. 

Predictions

I told the Ball State guys Iowa wins 31-10, and I'm sticking to that here; I think that one of their two scores is late and meaningless, and that Iowa's backups get some quality reps in most of the 4th quarter. That said, I'm still not sold on Iowa's offensive line quite yet, and the running back situation is more than a little scary. Further, from talking with OTP, it sounds as if Ball State's objectives on offense have closely mirrored Arizona's thus far. Of course, there's a difference in talent between the two teams, but that's why I'm still picking Iowa to win by a deceptively close three touchdowns, y'know. Either way, this game should show us just how far Iowa's come in the week since the Arizona loss, and how much they've got to improve before the Penn State game.

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