Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. That wasn’t pretty. There was more aggression, offensive attacking and excitement in last night’s debate than there was in Saturday’s win. Not that most fans care too much given that Iowa won. As Captain Kirk would say, that’s football. But it’s Monday, so let’s over-analyze, overreact and dare I say over-celebrate Saturday’s win.
1. It’s Alive!
After a complete abomination a week ago, the defense bowed it’s back and came back to life on Saturday. There were still some major areas of concern and some blips on the radar, but all in all the defense looked almost like a classic Iowa defense. All told, the D allowed only 268 total yards. Perhaps more importantly given recent trends, Iowa’s run D only gave up 102 yards on the ground. It’s about damn time.
2. Thank God
Thank God the defense showed up Saturday. The offense left much to be desired. While only giving up 268 yards and 7 points on defense, the offense only managed 321 yards ad 14 points. If you watched much of the game, you likely wish you hadn’t. It was a snoozefest. Granted, had it been a pair of SEC playing, it would’ve been dubbed a fantastic showing of defensive prowess that further proves the grueling conference schedule. But don’t kid yourself, this was a pair of offenses that aren’t very good. That will be a problem going forward.
3. Anyone Want to Catch A Ball?
I am looking for someone, anyone, who can run routes and catch a football. The receiving corps has been bitten by the injury bug, but the guys we knew would be out there haven’t stepped up. Jerminic Smith is the one guy with the ability to get open downfield. Unfortunately, he apparently has to shed his hands to get separation past 10 yards. Riley McCarron isn’t on the field because of his size or his speed. Saturday, he wasn’t exactly sure-handed and even committed the KF cardinal sin of losing a fumble. That can’t become a regular occurrence or I honestly don’t know what his role is in the offense. I assume there are some issues around blocking with some of the other options currently on the roster, but I’d really like to see more work for guys like Falconer and Young if the guys already seeing the majority of snaps are going to struggle catching the football.
4. Run, Baby, Run
The offense has struggled without Matt VandeBerg and the lack of a reliable pass-catching option has made it more difficult for Iowa to get anything going on the ground (Iowa is now ranked 115th in total offense; 94th in rushing offense and 102nd in pass offense). Saturday gave me a glimpse of hope for the run game. There were long stretches of struggle, no doubt, but there were also a number of nice runs that were inches away from being long TD runs. Finally, Wadley finished one that ultimately was the game-winner. If GD can find someone to catch the football, I have faith this offense can actually look like something resembling a competent Big Ten offense again this season.
5. One True #16
For those of you who haven’t seen Iowa play this year, the Hawkeyes’ QB, leader and all-around good guy, CJ Beathard, wears #16. Their punter/kickoff man (and one can only assume also a good guy), Ron Coluzzi, also wears #16. Confusing right? Only if you accept as a fact that the two, are in fact, separate people. Those watching the games may be impressed with the punting prowess showed yet again this weekend from the #1 #16. I’m here to tell you I think they are actually the same person and CJ Coluzzi has always been a great QB and punter. #hottakemonday
6. Total, Utter, Snoozefest
There was literally no offense on Saturday. It was just brutal. Sloppy. Only 311 yards of offense from BOTH TEAMS COMBINED. Five turnovers and a number of close calls. No, I’m not talking about the game in Minneapolis. I’m talking about the hurricane bowl played in North Carolina as NC State topped Notre Dame 10-3. Note to everyone involved in the decision to keep that game as scheduled: next time maybe follow the lead of everyone else in the path of the hurricane. And if you’re going to keep it as planned, at least have the common decency to not televise that garbage. Yuck.
7. Weekly Update
Penn State’s kicker, Joey Julius, has made plenty of headlines lately and I’ve done my part to keep it going here. I’ll be honest, I love that he looks nothing like a normal kicker. I love that he doesn’t shy away from contact. And I love that he tries to get in there like an actual football player and make a tackle. With that comes some pushback from those guys that are actual football players. I’m good with that. But I’m not good with cheap shots on the guy. Just like I’m not OK with cheap shots like the one we saw at the end of the LSU/Wisco game. Maryland had a guy ejected Saturday for such a cheap shot (for those counting at home, that’s two guys from two teams in two weeks). I hope the guy continues to get after it and I hope opponents man up and take him on like any other potential tackler, but within the rules and without being cheap.
Adding to the story, the kid made news this week when he came forward and acknowledged that he isn’t the size he is necessarily by choice. He is struggling with an eating disorder. Here’s to hoping he get’s that straightened out and continues to make kickers everywhere just a little bit more like normal football players.
And because I can never miss an opportunity to gloat a bit, doesn’t it feel nice to know the trophy case will again be at least half full for a year? That pig sure does look nice in the football facility. Hope everyone celebrated with a nice plate of bacon over the weekend. Here’s to continuing to fill up the trophy case and getting another week in the books. Hate week, part deux, is upon us.