(Wherein our observer of things pastoral shares a Saturday morning colloquy with his urban correspondent.)
If there is a Ferentz 3.0 -- if -- it is revealed today. It's not revealed next week. Today. You are on the money.
a. multiple offense with dual purpose backs and the full rollout of the GD offense (e.g., Bullock/Canzeri and Weisman/Daniels in game, Bullock/Canzeri to slot). They practiced this all spring and summer so WTF? where is it, if we don't see it today.
b. uptempo no-huddle smash, MOAR PLAAZ. 85 plays.
c. willingness to throw early and often if MN does a WMU (this is my wildass prediction) and throws 8-9 in the box every play.
d. another game of simple competence on special teams.
(My gameplan would be to go straight to the air if they load up like WMU, and throw to run.)
It amuses me that no one in Minnesota or OTE expects anything other than simple, rote Ferentz 1.0. There are shocking numbers associated with this team, but no one can penetrate the veil of their prior impressions. Obviously this doesn't apply to Kill, he's going WTF? 38 min TOP and 83 ppg? Rudock higher QB eff rating than Martinez? Weisman leading the country in 3rd down conversions? Who are these guys? But the numbers are shocking. They have little relationship with prior Ferentz teams. How many people have noted this? Even Morehouse and Hlas haven't noticed, or at least are unwilling to print their suspicions.
There probably is no Ferentz 3.0 if we see a game where he tries to out-slug and out-punt Minnesota on the road. He should out-slug and out-punt them, but basically, that's just good defense. On offense he needs to out-slug and out-maneuver, frighten them with newness, and then break their will and their backs. If he doesn't, in effect, he's surrendering the 1st division of the Big Ten in perpetuity and simply stating, "We will never beat Wisconsin or OSU again." I really hope he doesn't do that, and I think he's too smart to think he's *not* doing that if he goes Ferentz 1.0 on us.
Five reasons I am more optimistic are the new assistants. In business, your staff is your destiny. Brian may be grateful to be in IC, but I think he has more of Belichick's arrogance than his dad. He cannot be who I think he is and be willing to say "hey, we're just Iowa, get used to 7-5." That also doesn't get him the HC job when his dad retires. Brian has the ruthless perfectionism of a true pro. LeVar and and White competed at the highest level; I think many casual observers think it's no different than coaching at Southern Illinois. It's not. It's an amoral Hobbesian wasteland of brilliant talent and ruthless, breathtaking, selfish, sociopathic competition. This is good for Ferentz, to have those guys. Reid and Davis are either a) just padding their 401(K)s or pissed off about the last job and desirous of leaving a stamp on college football. I'll be extremely disappointed in Ferentz if he hired guys who are focused on retirement and not their legacies. There simply is no way Davis can be stopped by MN if his players execute his offense, and he is allowed to run his offense.
Remember how Hayden was traumatized by being fired by SMU and seconded to the steppes of North Texas? Bump told me and my dad at breakfast once that this was central to his hiring decision. (Bump was an outcast from a football holy land too, and had *a lot* to prove.) Kennedy gets fired from Texas in early middle age and then experiences one of the worst seasons any coach experiences in Boulder. Doyle was professionally embarrassed at a national level with rhabdo. If these guys don't have something to prove, Ferentz needs to retire. Football doesn't reward men whose motivation is their W-2.
I think Ferentz is profoundly misunderstood because he is such a bland and careful public presence. When I was at the game last week and I was watching the big screen as the team walked slowly down the tunnel and Back and Black played at 100 dB, the guy who scared me wasn't some football player; it was the head coach who looked ready to kill somebody: efficiently, ruthlessly, and with pleasure. Obviously I project, because I identify with a man at this age and with life objectives yet to prove. But that is what I saw. I misjudge women every day. I misjudge men about once a year. This was a fighting commander like Mattis. It was not a 'football ceo.' He has separated himself on the sidelines from his assistants more than I've seen before. He has elevated himself from Team Ferentz and become a warrior-general, I think, with outsized expectations. I think he wants more than money and respectability. I don't think people realize this.
I also think we are far more athletic a team than anyone realizes. (Again, the mass of opinion usually trails reality by years, in any activity.) I don't think Leidner or Nelson would play for Iowa unless they changed positions. What would Davis do with them? I'm sure it is a bowl game for MN and they have been hammered all week by a good coach for last year's physical humiliation in IC. But last year they were big, still fat, and not tough and h/t to Kill if now, in 12 months they are big and tough. They might be but even then it won't matter if we are multiple. If they are not big and tough I expect selfish desire to be dripping from our coaches' mouths, and a rout. Have you ever seen Ferentz, with a 50 point lead, throw a bomb like he did last week to Powell? This is my leading indicator for this game. Something has changed. I have never seen him do that.
I am optimistic because I think 3 or more turnovers are the only way we lose this game. Even if they fake a punt or two, absent turnovers, if we run the full offense we should win by three touchdowns. I won't be surprised if we win by four. MN is truly one-dimensional and there is no reason for us to be one-dimensional.
If Rudock throws a couple of pick-sixes or something, incidentally, I think he gets yanked. I don't think he has the rope that Stanzi got against Indiana a few years ago. The whole point of going to 17-second play cycles while beating the shit out of people up front is to beat the shit out of people at breakneck pace so they quit sooner. It's Patton outracing his logistics. Patton didn't outrace his gasoline because he wanted to vacation on the Rhine. His ambition was obliteration and glory. There's an enormous logical disconnect with this offense if now we slow down and play for a 4 point win. And there is a huge logical disconnect if we treat this game as a learning experience for the QB. I don't think they have lower expectations for Rudock, now, than they would for a second-year starter. If he wants to play like a freshman, well, we have one of those on the bench.
Minnesota is well-coached but they are not tested or seasoned. They've done nothing on the edge. ISU is not as bad (they hammered Tulsa on the road) as we thought; WIU is, SJSU got clubbed by Utah State AT HOME and was never in the game. MN may -- may -- match up with us in one or even two ways (LOS). It shouldn't matter at all, unless Ferentz is done and Ferentz 1.0 is the objective now. I can't get there because I don't think his staff wants that, will stand for it, or even knows how to do it. The players are children; they will do whatever Ferentz wants; he's the father people like Lowery have never had. But the self-interests of the staff demand more, and your staff is your destiny. We should kill this team unless the ball bounces the wrong way -- a common occurrence in sport -- or unless Ferentz no longer understands the world which he inhabits. We're not going to have better linebackers playing together in our lifetime.
To be honest, I wish we were playing OSU this week. I think we could beat them today, because they haven't been punched, once, and their vainglory (great characterization, Stoops) is that of hereditary royalty. They'll get an education against Wisconsin and be much better, win or lose, as a result. But I think we could beat them today.
I love the way the popular world thinks Ferentz is just a tired, wealthy has-been. He may be and I doubt it. But as you note, this game will tell us. Successful men do not forget their successes. Success does not arrive absent arrogance and primeval desire. Success followed by failure spawns focus and desire. Think Nixon 68, Reagan 80; the best candidate in '16 for the Dems is Kerry, I think. All of these guys were Hayden arriving at Iowa: each has much to prove. As a literary man I invent characters of public figures but Henry V, the fighting king, is my model for Ferentz at this stage of life and he's not lacking in numbers, talent or weapons. Iowa 38 - 10 is optimal; 38 -17 expected; if we score fewer than 30 on a one-dimensional team with a linebacker at QB who wouldn't start at NIU, we need to find a new hobby.
Time to print my approach plates, fuel the Bellanca and launch for Holman. The only complexity I'm facing today is an ILS in the rain, and those are fun. We beat ourselves or this is a beatdown in the big city. On Iowa , On Forever More. I dearly love Minneapolis, but Minneapolis won't be loving Iowa much today. Too bad, for them. I see no reason to care or brook sympathy.