THIS TIME, IT'S FOR REAL. Iowa opens conference play tomorrow with perhaps the toughest game on the 2015 schedule. Currently, Northwestern is ranked higher than Wisconsin but that 35-17 drubbing of the Badgers by Alabama had a lot to do with that. We know what Wisconsin is. We know what Paul Chryst likes to do. Let's see what Iowa should be concerned about in this game.
That's kind of it in a nutshell. Compacted, not spread out like most teams in college football today. Straight ahead power football. Now, Hawaii is in a three-man front but had nearly eight in the box against this look most of the night. We see this concept from our own Hawkeyes but what's different is the two fullbacks versus a fullback and tight end moving in motion. Wisconsin used two fullbacks against Hawaii a lot. I assume they will again tomorrow.
And here may be Wisconsin's second favorite formation. Two split wide but again with a fullback and not a third wide receiver (Wisconsin may use the fullback more than any non-option team in the nation).
Here we see the jet sweep action with wide receiver Erickson. They will run this look a lot (hi Nebraska). We talked about constraint on this blog and the Iowa offense and saw Greg Davis utilize Jonathan Parker in sweep action. We also took a look at Iowa defending a sweep against North Texas this week (although from a shotgun formation). They will hand off to Erickson, pass from this formation and run up the middle with the end frozen outside as we see above.
There will be play action and rollouts from these formations too. Nothing deep as Wisconsin doesn't really have a burner to spread the field.
I apologize if this stirs up bad memories:
Starting receiver/safety Tanner McEvoy will take a snap or two and run the football. Wisconsin ran straight QB sweep this time and used him on a QB read option last year. This same play went for almost 40 yards the week prior vs. Troy. We will likely see this and at some point, expect a pass from it too.
Their linebackers are legit.
Their 3-4 defense will be difficult for Iowa as blitzes will be heavy and often. Pitt was a tough defense but it was a four-man front. Wisconsin will test the edge and Iowa's tackles with quick linebackers off the edge getting up field in a hurry.
And Iowa may have to use the screen game again.
Sure, this is Hawaii but I was impressed with how well the Wisconsin defense tackles. Iowa had to use the screen/draw game to keep Pitt guessing. All of that is now on film and Wisconsin will sniff a few out. Still, a well timed screen will be effective.
What about third and long? Look familiar?
It's not Iowa's Raider but similar idea. If I recall correctly, Wisconsin ran a version of the Raider a season before Iowa did. They've since moved to a 3-4 defense but will play two interior linemen (or less) and rush from all over with linebackers. Iowa's offensive line better know their opponent as communication in a hostile environment will be difficult.