It’s Hate Week, and while we here at WRNL like to keep things fun and entertaining, there is still a game to be played on Saturday.
2016 Game II: Iowa State (0-1, 0-0) vs. University of Iowa (1-0, 0-0)
Time: 6:30 p.m. CDT
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Line: Iowa opened -17, now -15
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
When We Last Left Off
Last week’s game was not what we as fans were expecting. I figured it would be a close game, but not the outcome we saw. Give the Panthers credit, they didn’t kill themselves, but Iowa State did. The silver lining in all of this is a lot of those mistakes are correctable.
Penalties and turnovers are two things that can be improved upon, and listening to Matt Campbell in his weekly press conference makes me believe he knows and understands the importance of those. His demeanor and way he answered questions gave me the confidence that this guy can turn things around. He preaches progress – and if this team can show improvement, we will see better results later on in the season.
Now to the dumpster fire that is being talked about endlessly in the media – the offensive line. As bad as it looked on Saturday, it was a mirror image of last year’s game against the Panthers. UNI has always given ISU’s offensive line fits, and last Saturday was no different. If there is one thing I can take away, that same bad offensive line last year went on to pave the way for 1300 plus yards for their running back. Don’t jump off the cliff just yet.
The Hawks carry the advantage 41-22, with Iowa winning last year in Ames by a score of 31-17. In fact, the road team has won the last four games in the series…
Kirk Ferentz and his fat new 10-year extension (Hawk fans will love talking about that buyout after a bad year) is under .500 against the Clones in his career.
Iowa returns a lot of key players from last year’s Rose Bowl team – most notably quarterback C.J. Beathard and cornerback/return man Desmond King. Thanks to another cupcake schedule, the Hawks are picked by many to win the Big 10
Legends, Leaders, West division, and are ranked 17th in the AP poll. Iowa enters the game 1-0, after a beatdown of Miami of Ohio by a score of 45-21.
As bad as the running game was against UNI, the passing display by Joel Lanning was a pleasant surprise. Lanning went 18-for-28 through the air, for 256 yards and three beautifully thrown touchdowns. UNI stacked the box against the Clones, and forced us to beat them deep. The benefactors were a 39-yard strike to Dondre Daley down the sideline, and a 33-yard leaping grab by Allen Lazard for six.
Look for Lazard to be blanketed by All-American corner King, which will allow others to step up – namely Trever Ryen, Marchie Murdock, Daley, and Deshaunte Jones. If there is one thing that ISU can exploit, it’s the middle of the field and lack of speed by Iowa’s linebackers. If Manning and company want to sustain drives and run the clock, they will have to utilize crossing patterns with our speedy receivers.
The run game will be hard to come by, as Iowa is stout up front. Lanning and Warren can ill afford to cough up the ball, and the offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Beating the dead horse of slow linebacker play, look for more wheel routes and passes thrown to the running backs in this one. In fact, ISU did a good job of exposing the Hawks’ weakness two years ago.
Iowa runs your standard 1980s Big Ten 4-3 defense, with three linebackers on the field. They like to call themselves creative in third down blitzes, calling it their “Robber Package,” with their defensive ends in a two-point stance and only one down lineman. Their claim to fame is stopping the run, and this year is no different.
The Hawks lose two of their best pass rushers from a year ago, but bring in a new face in reigning Big 10 Freshman of the Week defensive end Anthony Nelson. The 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman actually verbally committed to ISU in high school before switching to the dark side. He recorded 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last week against Miami (OH).
The linebackers are steady, and are led by junior Josey Jewell, a native of Decorah. Jewell led the team in tackles a year ago, and was also ejected last week for not standing up for “In Heaven There is No Beer.” Oh wait, that was C.J. Beathard. The Hawks also have experience with two more slow white linebackers in Ben Niemann, and Bo Bower. Both have over 14 starts, and apparently like to drink beer, because they didn’t get suspended.
Leading the charge in the secondary are senior cornerbacks Desmond King and Greg Mabin. According to the depth chart, the Hawks call King the “right cornerback,” but he’ll reportedly be covering Lazard all day no matter where he lines up on the field. Mabin is no slouch either, as he stands 6-foot-2, and has started 23 consecutive games on the left side.
Verdict – Iowa
Iowa is just too good at stopping the run, and will make ISU one-dimensional. Lanning needs to stay in the pocket and make quick reads, and just throw the ball away if no one is open. Don’t try to be fancy with King, as he will be playing on Sundays and is a ball hawk. It will be ever so important for the Cyclones to sustain drives in this one to keep the defense off the field, and that will come by the short-to-intermediate throws and quick screens in the slot. ISU has plenty of speed to match up with this defense, and can break one over the top – all you gotta do is give #5 a chance.
I gave the ISU defense a solid C+ in my postmortem report, as they bailed out the offense time and again. The fact of the matter is, if your defense is on the field as much as ISU’s was on Saturday, I don’t care if you are Bama – they are going to get tired. We saw great push up front, as ISU had 11 tackles-for-loss against the Panthers, and closed the pocket, but that all went away by the fourth quarter. Demond Tucker is paramount to the success on this defense, and he will have to play on all downs (passing or running), in order for the defense to get off the field.
The linebackers on this team are just as slow as Iowa’s, and that is not a compliment. I’d expect to see more from our SAM spot, and less at the STAR position, trading away speed for downhill tackling. Therefore, look for more of Bobby McMillen III and Josh Jahlas on the field. Kane Seeley is going to have to play the game of his life. Therefore, he has to play 100 times better than he did against UNI. I think the odds are stacked against us on that one.
First Key to Victory – STOP THE RUN
We have seen time and again that Iowa lines up their best five, and they don’t care how many you have in the box – they will run it down your throat. If ISU wants any sort of chance in this one, they will have to contain their gaps, and take much better angles to stop the downhill rushing attack.
We’ll see two more players for the first time in D’Andre Payne and Thadd Daniels. Again, I see more of a knock-out drag-out approach in the running game, and ISU will have to replace speed with power. Look for the weak-side linebacker spot, whether it’s Willie Harvey or Reggan Northrup, to rack up the tackles in the box score.
As long as the suspension gets overturned, we will see C.J. Beathard at quarterback for the Hawks. Beathard brings a nice skill-set to the table. He killed ISU on long runs last year, has an accurate arm, and will game-manage the shit out of this one.
The offensive line is always good in Iowa City. Apparently how they do it is just pay the most money for a strength coach every year. Sean Welsh and Cole Croston lead the way up front for a line that averages just under 300 pounds. Look for a lot of the ole zone-blocking scheme and cutback from the running back in this one.
Carries will be split between two names that have to be uniquely their own: LeShun (Daniels) and Akrum (Wadley). Daniels is more of the downhill runner, and Wadley the scat back who can scoot. Both have breakaway speed and complement each other well.
The wide receivers – well, none of them scare me. They are led by another slow white dude named Matt Vandeberg. He is the epitome of a possession receiver, and has hands of solid gold (according to a drunken Gary Dolphin). Look out for the tight end, as Iowa loves to throw his way. This year, that man is George Kittle.
Second Key to Victory – Force Turnovers
Iowa brings a very methodical approach to the table, but if ISU wants to flip the script and change the momentum, they will have to force turnovers. We will most likely see a battle of field position and punts, so a forced fumble or pick-six will change the landscape of this game in a matter of seconds.
Verdict – Iowa
Nothing exciting about this one, as the Hawks carry a beefed up offensive line and can run against just about anyone. Beathard used to like to take chances, but has turned into a game manager, and will make the right reads. ISU will have to stack the box and take their chances with their corners (which I think we can do). The safeties will be called upon much more in the run game, and also on passes up the seam – Kamari Cotton-Moya will lead the charge.
Kirk Ferentz is always known for his stellar special teams play, and he has a playmaker in punt returner Desmond King. The All-American changed the momentum last year in Ames with a huge return, and can take one back to the house at any time. Trever Ryen produced two strong returns last week (albeit one was called back on a shitty block-in-the-back call), but he can also make a name for himself in the return game.
The Hawks have two fresh faces in the kicking game, but both are serviceable. Their return defense is as good as anyone in the country.
Third Key to Victory – Win the Field Position Battle
We will see a lot of punts in this one, and Colin Downing will have to live up to #PunterU expectations if ISU wants to keep the game close. Cole Netten will also have his name called upon – in multiple situations – and we need to see the Swoll Netten from two years ago. I’ll let the video do the talking
Verdict - Even
After last week’s loss in the Super Bowl, almost everyone is calling for a blowout. Not so fast my friends! Iowa State has and always will match up well against Iowa, and this year is no different. You can throw records and previous games out the window, because you know – it’s the CyHawk game.
ISU has the talent to win in Kinnick, especially with their offensive playmakers. Look for a lot of throws to go Allen Lazard’s way, and Lanning completing his short throws to move the sticks. The offensive line doesn’t have to be superb, just serviceable, and give Lanning time to throw to his receivers.
The Cyclone defense will have their work cut out for them, but stranger things have happened in this rivalry. Two years ago it was Cory Morrissey dominating future first-round draft-pick Brandon Scherff. Who will it be this year? I will be keeping my eye on the linebackers and safeties, as they have to bottle up the running backs for short gains and force turnovers to change momentum.
I see a close game with a lot of punts and a tremendous battle of field position. But after last week, I just can’t put ISU in the win column. Iowa will do what Iowa does, and sneak out of Kinnick with their trophy for another year.
P.S. If you have any sort of money lying around, ah screw it, bet the house on ISU in this one.
Iowa 30, ISU 21