After the close of the 2009 season, I started to look ahead and project Iowa's future success. Some people were looking at 2010 as THE year for the Hawkeyes to make a run at a perfect season and a national title. But I was a little weary...all the close games of 2009, a kind of shaky offense, a difficult schedule. I was instead looking to the year 2012.
2012 looked full of promise. I don't think I ever wrote it down anywhere (thankfully), but I told people, "2012 is Iowa's national championship year."
The class of 2009 freshmen, who would be seniors in 2012, was exciting. James Vandenberg, after his performance at Ohio State, looked an eventual upgrade to the STANZIBALL prone Ricky Stanzi. Brandon Wegher, Adam Robinson, and Jewel Hampton? That sounds amazing! Keenan Davis played as a true freshman and was making progress. Ditto with Micah Hyde. Even Trent Mossbrucker looked like he would be a good kicker.
Plus the 2012 schedule set up nicely. It was later shaken up by the B1G adding Nebraska, but was comparable to the schedule Iowa actually played this year.
Then AIRBHG happened, Norm retired, the D-line didn't replenish, players didn't pan out, kids left, KOK left, and Greg Davis was hired... And my national championship prediction was yanked from my hopeful heart, dropped and shattered on the floor of the Hall of Prophecy.
But as the senior walk out to be recognized on Senior Day this Friday, I'll do my best to appreciate their contributions to the program and be thankful that they were Hawkeyes. That's better than thinking about how this class is the class that could have been.
Anyway, it's not just Senior Day on Friday...they will also be playing football. I tried to maintain a sliver of hope last week, but this week I have none. So today's 4 factors are a mostly dumb.
Make Taylor Martinez look like 2011 Taylor Martinez
Martinez is probably the most improved passer in the B1G. Last year he was very mediocre (I'm being generous) throwing the ball. He completed just 56% of his passes and had a 13:8 TD to INT ratio. This he he's completing a conference best 63.6% of his throws and while he still has thrown 8 picks, he's up his TDs to 21.
I don't have much hope that Iowa can really do anything to slow him, especially considering the way Devin Gardner absolutely destroyed the Hawks just a few days ago. But it'll need to happen if Iowa has any hope of winning.
Keep going to C.J. Fiedorowicz
Whoever told Vandenberg last week to target CJF early and often gets a gold star. The strategy was extremely effective as the TE racked up 99 yards on 8 catches. He helped move the chains on third down (just once) and was an open target on first down play action. Most importantly, his 5-6 yard routes in the middle of the field were a replacement for the 3-yard outs that have been horribly ineffective.
Plus, Nebraska's pass defense is good and very comparable to Michigan's the two are 1-2 in the country in pass yardage allowed (the Huskers are #2), so I don't expect the receivers to generate much separation.
Don't hold back
Kirk Ferentz has said they are playing to win and not to get younger players experience. And that is good and all. But, like they did last week, it's time to throw players into the fold and just see if anything sticks. Iowa used 5 different safeties last week!
The coaches need to extend this to the game management/play calling as well. This is not the time to hold back the trick plays or the risky decision. Ferentz often likes to save a little something special (a fake kick or something) for the bowl game. Well, there is no bowl game fellas, so let's throw everything we've got at Nebraska.
We might as well, right?
Senior send off
A big day from Vandenberg is key. His last 3 weeks have been improvements on the rest of the season and he had his best passer rating of the year against Michigan. He needs to continue on that trend and go out with a bang.
Keenan Davis was completely absent last week, but a few big catches would be nice.
Micah Hyde has been solid and about the only guy making plays on defense, but has also had a few mental mistakes and penalties the last couple of weeks.
And anything from the other seniors would be great.
Here's the list of seniors, in case you were looking for it:
- Steve Bigach
- Greg Castillo
- Keenan Davis
- Zach Derby
- Tom Donatell
- James Ferentz
- Joe Gaglione
- Jon Gimm
- Micah Hyde
- Casey McMillan
- Trent Mossbrucker
- Nick Nielsen
- Jacob Reisen
- Collin Sleeper
- Steven Staggs
- Jack Swanson
- Matt Tobin
- James Vandenberg
- John Wienke
One last note on the seniors to Kirk Ferentz: Hey Kirk. This is John Wienke's last game. Please let him throw the ball on a fake punt. It would be awesome.
I don't think it'll be as bad as the Michigan game and Iowa will be able to hang around for longer than a quarter. Ultimately though, the offense doesn't do enough, and the defense breaks a few too many times.
Final Score: Iowa 17 - Nebraska 31