Let's get right to it.
We've seen Iowa screw this up at least two times before that I can remember: @Wisconsin 2007 and vs. Michigan 2001. Both times, needing one score late in the game, Iowa ran into the middle of the line on 3rd and 1, then threw a desperation Hail Mary on 4th down. It's not a bad move to try to go for it by any stretch of the imagination, but you simply cannot afford to go low-percentage on what could be the last play of a critical drive, and let's face it: a Hail Mary is a low-percentage play.
That said, yes, Iowa should be looking at these high-risk, high-reward plays more often. It keeps the defense away from the LOS and can lead to amazing plays. But if they don't work on 3rd and 1, you don't turn around and punt from your own 40. Not when it's 4th and 1 and NIU has held Iowa to less than a yard precisely once in 43 carries. That was a low-risk first down to pick up and Ferentz punted. Bummer.
@Adam_Jacobi is it futile to determine how much of Iowa's struggles are talent related vs scheme related? Equally to blame?— Brian Johnson (@bdj79) September 5, 2013
Well, it's like drawing two cards out of a deck, they don't match, then trying to figure out which card's fault it is. And right now it doesn't look like the talent matches the scheme. Maybe we'll see a finely-tuned machine Saturday and rethink things, and certainly it's worth noting that there's a better fit this year than last year, but at the end of the day this is still an out-heavy offense putting the ball in space on the margins but without an athleticism advantage there.
You can't blame talent when C.J. Fiedorowicz barely ever gets the ball thrown to him. You can't blame play-calling when Damon Bullock drops an easy screen pass with acres of green grass in front of him on 3rd down, or when Bullock's high enough on the Iowa RB depth chart to get 17 carries in Week 1. His transition to slot receiver must have been tabled, or something. Either way, the fit's not right here, and assigning blame to one side or the other really just elides the fact that it's the coaching staff's fault for not getting the two sides in harmony. Play to your strengths! One of them is 6'8" and strong and fast and Polish! He should have way more than two catches for 15 yards!
"Hurrrr I bet it's Law & Order tell you what" - Iowa State fans who wish it were still 2006.
Iowa football is The Wire. Horribly bleak and depressing at times, darkly funny at others, lots of white folks you immediately feel bad for: Jake Rudock is Prez, and that last INT was him shooting the other cop on accident; Kirk Ferentz is Frank Sobotka, ever in denial that his industry has passed him by while futilely trying to get his sons in on the business; and obviously Marc Morehouse is Jimmy McNulty (love you, Mas Casa).
God I am so glad Iowa doesn't face Indiana this year. Getting bombed to pieces by Michigan and Ohio State I can handle; it's to be expected. But Indiana would drop at least 45 on Iowa this year, and that program is the worst in the Big Ten. I'm just barely getting over my Kellen Lewis/James Hardy PTSD.
Also, funny how "Indiana's year" involves them going 7-5, tops.
You people don't even deserve this Q&A, I swear to god.
Discussions below, friends; if any of us BHGP staffers have free time tonight, we'll answer more questions in the comments, and feel free to answer each other too. We're all consenting adults, it's cool.