It's 0-3 Western Michigan this week and my internet was out for most of the night last night thanks to the storms, so today's four factors will be abbreviated.
In the first three weeks, most of Iowa's shortcomings can be attributed to poor execution on just a handful of plays. Focus slips and then there is a dumb penalty, a missed tackle, a poor judgment of where a bouncing onside kick is going to go, a blown coverage, a dropped pass, etc... The good news from last week, is that even though all of those things happened, the players who made the mistakes bounced right back. After giving up a TD on a missed tackle, B.J. Lowery had that amazing interception. Ray Hamilton easily handled the second onside kick. Jacob Hillyer and Tevaun Smith both came up with big catches after having early drops. Now this is the week, and the last chance before conference play, to clean everything up and don't let the mistakes happen the first time.
Keep the course
I'm all for coaches making adjustments each week and creating a game plan specific to the opponent. I'd be really worried if Iowa wasn't doing this. But Greg Davis is all too quick to mention that Iowa will be different each week. Just stick with what's working Greg. Send out two tight ends and run the ball. Especially this week against Western Michigan's 113th ranked run defense, that is giving up 245 yards on the ground per game.
Find a number 2 receiver
Don Shumpert is currently second in receptions of the receivers behind Kevonte Martin-Manley (C.J. Fiedorowicz is really second on the team) with just 5 catches. KMM has 19. That's a pretty sizeable gap... And now Shumpert has started to play less and has been booted of his starting spot in favor of Tevaun Smith. Iowa has spread the ball around a lot this year and a lot of guys have 1 or 2 catches. It'd be nice to see though, a real number 2 receiver emerge to support KMM. We're still waiting for Powell to be more than a once a game run it deep guy. Hillyer and Smith look like they're improving, so one of those guys could break out. I'd take anyone at this point. Matt VandeBerg, Jordan Cotton, whoever...
I wrote about finishing off opponents last week and I think Iowa did do a pretty good job of it against ISU. But really this year, the Hawkeyes aren't much better in the redzone than last. They are scoring on just 79% of their trips to the redzone (exactly the same as last year) and getting TDs on just 59% of their trips (up a little from last year's 47%). For as many plays and yards Iowa has amassed, getting 27-28 points per game isn't exactly great considering the competition. Iowa needs to keep up that scoring average against the better defenses it'll face in the B1G. Last year, they averaged a pitiful 19.3 points per game and lost 5 games by just one score. So upping the average to over 27 should turn some of those games around in Iowa's favor.
I don't think Davis will change things up that much this week. We'll see a lot of 2 TE sets, plenty of fullback, and a healthy dose of Weisman and company. It'll look too much like the last 2 games though, we're Iowa dominates the line of scrimmage, but doesn't light up the scoreboard. The game is really never in doubt, but we'll have some uncomfortable feeling at some point in the second half. That's the Ferentz way, I guess.
Final Score: Iowa 31 - Western Michigan 21