Find a Spark
It feels like forever since Iowa played in Kinnick and after tomorrow it’s until November 1st until we get another one. Though the Hawkeyes are coming off two road wins, the fan base could still use a little something to get going.
And the offense needs a little something to get going. Against Pitt, it was C.J. Beathard’s long completion to Damond Powell. Against Purdue, it was Jonathon Parker with a long kick return and a long run after catch. Playmakers making plays.
I expect Parker to continue to see his role grow and he could be the spark provider again. But I think it’s time that Greg Davis pulled out one of the good ol’ trick plays that he likes to run randomly. In front of a homecoming, black-and-gold-striped crowd, pulling out a flea-flicker or something…that could be a big spark.
Side note: I think a fake sweep play-action pass to Parker on a wheel route for a TD is coming.
Get Pressure Early
Iowa’s defense has been dominant in the second half the last two games. The corners have played more man (and been really good), allowing the rest of the defense to play more aggressive. It has been incredibly effective. But, each game it has taken the defense a while to get into that groove.
Indiana’s offense can put up a lot of points quickly. Last week, against North Texas, the Hoosiers had two 21-point quarters. And this season they are outscoring opponents 52-16 in the first quarter.
So Iowa needs to ditch that slow start, base defense stuff, and be more aggressive from the start of the game… focus on stopping Tevin Coleman, who is averaging 8.0 yards per carry, and the Hoosier run game and make Nate Sudfield throw the ball. Sudfield has been very up and down. Against the non-Power 5 teams, he’s gone 65/88 for 688 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT. But against Missouri and Maryland, he was 32/70 for 382 with just 1 TD and 1 INT. Quite the difference.
Air it Out
Want to solve the QB controversy? Let ‘em throw. Indiana is 110th in the nation is pass yards allowed -- and it is not because they are giving up a bunch of long plays. Opponents are only getting 6.48 yards per attempt (which is about what Iowa averages) but 286 yards per game. So Greg Davis is probably salivating at the idea of completing a million 5-yard outs. But teams have been able to do that up and down the field against the Hoosiers.
So I’d take that, even though I’d rather see the QBs air it out down the field. Really, with the bye week, and while everyone was focused on whaich QB will play when, blah, blah, blah… I think Iowa had a chance to figure out the running game. And more than anything that is what I want to see.
Keep Going For It
Against Purdue the fourth down thing didn’t work out. Iowa had two drives stall inside Purdue’s 10-yard line. One of the failures seemed to be the result of a bad decision by Beathard on third down, and on the other failure, Iowa was mainly just running up the gut trying to kill the clock. But still -- that’s points left off the board.
On the year, however, it has worked out for the Hawkeyes, converting 7 of 10 fourth down attempts. And the simple math here favors KF’s decision to go for it. Though FG kicking has gotten WAY better in the recent weeks, the team is still just 5/9 on the year. So math: the expected value of kicking a FG is worth 3 point * 55.5% chance on making it…just 1.7 points. By going for it on fourth down, Iowa has picked up 7 with 6 of those coming on TD drives and the other a FG. Math again, (6 * 7 + 1 * 3) / 10 = 4.5…So about 3 points more value there. So keep going for it. Plus, Indiana has not been good at stopping teams on fourth down, allowing teams to convert of 8 of their 11 chances.
I think we’re looking at a game similar to the UNI game. Coleman is similar to David Johnson and used in similar ways. I think the Iowa defense has improved greatly since week one, so we won’t see quite the same level of production…but this could be the most points Iowa has given up all season. The key, as always, will be how the offense plays, especially with the 2-QB system. I’m confident in both guys and hope the week off helped the offense come together. The playcalling against Purdue was very, very telegraphed, but was also a little more open than we’ve seen so far this season (more of the fake sweeps, some running out of shotgun, a 2-back shotgun look, etc…). I hope to see the playbook open up even more and see both QBs have success.
And I can’t believe I’m predicting this many points for Iowa (but maybe a special teams or defensive score)…
Final Score: Iowa 30 - Indiana 24