For the last number of weeks, I have written mostly about the previous game and then maybe a look ahead to our opponent that week. I don’t want to relive that nightmarish game in Not-so-Happy Valley. Before moving on it is a bit disheartening to get woodshedded by teams from the B1G East (Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State). The last five times the Hawks have faced these foes, the national rankings of said programs were #7, #4, #4, #2, #2. Iowa went 1-4 against them. In 2021 the Hawks beat fourth-ranked Penn State in Kinnick 23-20. The other four games saw the Hawkeyes outscored 154-27. Seven of those 27 points can be attributed to Joe Evans’ sack/scoop/score at the Horseshoe in 2022.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know and haven’t seen with your own eyes, but Kirk Ferentz needs to realize that we can’t go into a game against these teams hoping/praying/wanting to hold them to less than nine points. I’m no math person, but somehow, some way, changes need to be made to actually try to play offense. We have proven what happens when our approach is going into a game afraid of our own shadow. This mentality doesn’t get it done against the big boys, and it also allows the Western Michigans and South Dakota States of the world to hang around with us.
Penn State is a talented football team. Our scared/conservative approach made their defense look like the Pittsburgh Steelers from the ’70s.
The Hawks head home and are rewarded with a night game at Kinnick. The Spartans are a mess with their head coach suspended and on his way out the door. I don’t even know where we go from here, but if I’m Kirk/Brian/George, the last thing I would do would be to clean up a few things we are doing. Blow that crap up. Let Cade call the plays. or have Drew Tate come in and call the plays from the press box. Drew at least would throw a ball to a non-tight end. I’m kidding of course, but could we possibly be worse? We are a mess on offense. What is our identity? We have had great tight ends? That’s all I can think of. We aren’t a power team. We aren’t a finesse team. We don’t trick people with motions/fakes. Unless we have Brad Banks, Dallas Clark, and Shonn Greene, guess what? Same old, same old. Iowa used to be known as having a physically dominating offensive line. “The Bullies of the Big Ten” was once a source of pride, not just for our players, but our entire program. We more resemble the “Guys who get sand kicked in their face” now. Our line now plays like a rather polite group of fellas who show up for the juice boxes and cupcakes after the game. George Barnett has not been the answer. He is in his third year and our offensive line play has diminished each year. At this point, it’s an X’s and O’s as well as a Jimmy and Joe problem. Schematically it feels like Iowa’s offensive line is always having to block extra defenders. Not really a surprise when the entire stadium and everyone at home know what is coming.
Before I work myself up, I need to just move along. The Hawks and Spartans have been similar this year running the ball. The Spartans have a huge lead in first downs. The Spartans double our passing yards per game. Not hard to do, I know.
The Hawkeyes are favored to handily beat the Spartans. Please, Coach Kirk Ferentz, for all things Hawkeye, let the guys play. If Brian can’t design routes to get wide receivers open, and George Barnett can’t get guys blocked, we need to move in a different direction. It feels like we are not putting our offensive players in a position to be successful and that’s a shame.
Ok, deep breaths. We can do this.
As always, Go Hawks!