I read up a little bit on Missouri State this week to prepare for the game tomorrow, but really there isn't much to know. The Bears (where is James Vandenberg when you need him?) struggled last week at home against Northwestern State and lost. This is not a team that can legitimately challenge Iowa for a full 4 quarters, so the four factors today are just focused on how Iowa can use this game to improve.
Get in a rhythm
At time last week, the Iowa's no-huddle offense was working well. It was mostly when they were running the ball, but mixing up the running plays. The second quarter was fantastic and they had a nice drive going in the 4th quarter as well.
But there were still some hiccups with the no-huddle. On a third-and-one, they were trying to go too fast and Jordan Cotton had not gotten lined up yet. Iowa looked to try to really push the tempo after good running plays, but too often that next play wasn't very good. It looked like a lot of the time they just went right back to the same run and the defense was ready for it.
This is also one week where a quick 3-and-out might not matter as much. I don't expect Missouri State to do too much offensively and even though it'll be hot again on Saturday, I think the defense will be able to rotate a little more and not get as worn out. So, this is the week to really push the tempo and get a good rhythm down.
It seems that Kirk Ferentz has bought in to Greg Davis's offensive philosophy. It is more aggressive in tempo. More aggressive at the end of games. More aggressive on third-and-short. So far those things are working out so well. But I think part of the problem is the Iowa is stuck between its old conservative ways and what GD wants to do. It's been discussed, but the third-and-one deep shot to Damond Powell was a questionable playcall. If Iowa had planned to be aggressive and go for it on fourth down, then it would be been a great playcall. As it was, the play missed, Iowa punted, and a tired defense had to go back on the field.
Additionally, the offense needs to have an aggressive mindset all the time, so when it's the end of the game, the score is tied, and Iowa is going to try to move down the field for a FG (instead of running out the clock), then the team will be ready for it. Rudock needs to be confident in that situation and hopefully the interception last week doesn't destroy that.
Find out what the backups can do
I thought Rudock played pretty well for his first start. If it weren't for the late INT, then I think we all would have been very pleased. That said, I hope we get to see C.J. Beathard get quite a few snaps. I don't think there needs to be any QB controversy, I just want to see what he can do in this offense.
I'm also looking forward to see LeShun Daniels. I didn't make it out to the kids day and just saw some video of him. People sure were excited about him after that open practice though, and KF has mentioned him numerous times. I hope he gets in there with the first team O-line so we can more accurately compare him against Weisman.
On the other side of the ball, there are less backups to see. Pretty much everyone was rotating in at some point last week. We didn't see any nickle or dime, so that might be something to roll out just to play with it. Also, the safety play last week was a little iffy, so I'd like to see the backups get a little of time. Yes, I'm still interested to see what Nico Law can do.
Missouri State should be an opportunity for Iowa to work on the things it needs to...the base offense, the tempo, a pass rush, etc... But they also provide an opportunity to get a look at the 3-4 defense before playing Wisconsin and Ohio State later in the year who will run similar defenses. Both of those schools have new coaching staffs since the last time Iowa played them, so getting another look at the 3-4 will be good.
It should be a good mental workout for the offensive figuring out who's rushing and who's dropping back into coverage. I don't think the offensive line should have too much trouble paving lanes in the running game, but it could make the passing game more interesting. Let's see how Rudock handles it.
Iowa rolls, then rolls some more. Iowa works on its base offense and really starts to get the running game going. Weisman & Co. wear out the bears and we see a lot of the second team by the 4th quarter.
Final score: Iowa 34 - Missouri State 10