Sure, Iowa just handed a game over to the vastly inferior Northwestern Wildcats, 22-17. But how much do we really know? What was really important about losing to the Cats? What does it all mean, Basil? The Takeaway has the answer.
Four quarters of Shonn Greene probably means a win for Iowa. Look, this isn't quite like the Pitt game, where Greene wore himself out. Against Northwestern, Greene was still running strong (and once again setting career highs in yardage and carries) up until a flagrant helmet-to-helmet hit separated Greene from the ball and consciousness. No word yet on his status for Michigan State, but two inescapable truths here--1) head injuries are not to be trifled with, and 2) Iowa probably cannot win in East Lansing without Greene.
It's strange, because by all accounts, lots of Greene's success can be attributed to a resurgent offensive line, led by human cement truck Bryan Bulaga. Greene can run behind big 79 all day, but none of the backups have looked capable in Greene's absence--sure, Iowa largely abandoned the run game after Greene's last two departures, but it's not like Jewel Hampton is gashing anyone for 10 yards with the same line against the same defenses, and Greene does it with regularity. Is the talent disparity really that large?
The Iowa offense could desperately use an influx of imagination. Look, we're not saying that it needs to be all flea flickers and Statues of Liberty from here on out, but this is Iowa's most talented group of receivers in god knows how long, and Stanzi's numbers are still pretty pedestrian. There's no question the offense is better than last year, but when the three main pass routes are a) TE peeling into the flat off play action, b) seven-yard out, and c) three-yard out, it seems pretty obvious that points will continue to be in short supply.
We know the team's capable of going vertical. Brodell, DJK, and even 5'2" Paul Chaney have the speed to stretch the safeties, but we see it executed, what, two times a game? Three if KOK's feeling reckless? It's insufficient. Granted, Iowa is finally capable of "running to set up the pass," which hasn't always been the case recently, but there's probably a lot of guys on that team who want to scrap that and go with the "Aerial Fuckfire Warfare Death" offense instead.
Zone blitzes work for a reason. We'll let Smart Football explain this one, because Smart Football is king of it all:
The thing to remember is that for years, when a team blitzed it was playing either Cover 1 or Cover 0 man (or simply left holes in its zone), and quarterbacks were coached to throw the ball where the blitzer had come from.
Nowadays, there's a common perception that a zone-blitz works because a defensive linemen gets in the throwing lane – no. What the dropping defensive end in the diagram above does is allow the defense as a whole to stay in zone coverage, and further notice who is covering the area where the blitzers came from: the strong safety, who is usually an effective pass defender, certainly moreso than a defensive end. That is how zone-blitzes cause confusion.
Granted, the thought of Norm Parker using a zone blitz is about as farfetched as Michael Jordan using a condom, but since CJ Bacher turns into CJake Bachristensen whenever there's a defender within three yards of him, you can put pressure on a shaky quarterback without putting guys on islands against slant-happy receivers. In other words, you'd much rather have a secondary jumping routes and not chasing Ross Lane for another fucking first down for fucking crying out loud it's not like Lane is going to the NFL goddammit argh fuck morphinemorphinemorphine ahhhhhh.
We are... experts? BHGP, 9/26: Northwestern is "the worst 4-0 team in the nation." BHGP, 9/27: "Northwestern is the worst 4-0 BCS team in many years." Don Doxsie, QC Times, 9/29: "Last week a lot of the experts were saying Northwestern was the worst 4-0 team in the country. This week those same people probably will call the Wildcats the worst 5-0 team in the country." BHGP, 9/28: "Northwestern is now the worst 5-0 team in all of college football history."
We see you, Doxsie. We must, however, take a bit of an exception with the characterization of BHGP as "experts." We're actual experts the way Irwin R. Schyster was an actual tax lawyer.
Regardless, Don Doxsie, you are BHGP King For a Day. Or for whenever.
Photo credits, in order: Matthew Holst/Iowa City Press-Citizen; John Richard/Iowa City Press-Citizen.