Earlier this week, I chatted with GospelOfMax, one of the two new managers over on Iowa’s SB Nation site Black Heart Gold Pants. We touched on Kirk Ferentz’s new contract extension, Iowa’s roster this year, what Iowa State will have to do to hang with Iowa, and the classic WRNL question that EVERYONE needs to answer.
Kevin: Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the Cy-Hawk game, give me your thoughts on the Kirk Ferentz extension. Are you for, against, or neutral on the move? Why?
GospelOfMax: Personally, I'm all for the move. A lot of people were mad about it for two reasons, mostly: 1) why give someone that's here until 2020 an extension, and 2) what the hell does that buyout mean? Well, he was extended because this upcoming 2017 class (and all subsequent classes) are going to want to play for a coach who will be there throughout their collegiate career — this deal ensures that he will be.
The buyout? No one can claim to know what it means other than Ferentz and Barta, but I think it's a statement. It says Kirk isn't going anywhere until he decides to retire, and that for better or for worse, he's here for the long haul. Iowa's been pretty consistent under him, though (with a few outliers like 2012), so I don't feel like this deal will come back to bite them. Let me go find some wood to knock on.
Kevin: Who are some key departures from last year's Iowa team? How about some impact newcomers?
GospelOfMax: Iowa lost a handful of good players from last year, including Tevaun Smith, Jordan Lomax, Henry Kreiger-Coble, Jordan Canzeri, Jordan Walsh, Austin Blythe, and Drew Ott. That seems like a lot, but the Hawks were without Ott for the majority of the year. The ones they'll miss the most, though, are likely Blythe, Smith, and Lomax. Blythe, because he was a stud on the OL and the biggest constancy for a line that was ravaged by injury last season; Smith, because he was the team's big-play threat and they're still looking for someone to replace that; and Lomax, who might sound surprising as a key departure, but he was the team's play-caller in the secondary, and last week, they looked like they missed him.
Newcomers are a bit different though. Jerminic Smith and Jay Scheel were on the team last year, but they didn't play a whole ton. Expect that to change since Iowa is still looking for that wide receiver to replace Tevaun Smith. Anthony Nelson had a monster week against Miami (OH), where he forced two fumbles and recorded 2.5 sacks on his way to B1G Freshman of the Week honors. And lastly, Keith Duncan, the kicker. Last week, he went 6-for-6 in PAT attempts and also kicked a 22-yarder. As a true freshman, he could make or break Iowa depending on his performance and is still mostly an unknown commodity.
Kevin: Last year in Ames, CJ Beathard broke free for a couple long runs that contributed heavily to the Iowa win down the stretch. There was some discussion about a knee injury leading up to the season... Did he seem to be impacted by it at all in the Miami of Ohio game? Is limited mobility a concern at all for Saturday night?
GospelOfMax: It shouldn't be. He was supposed to wear a protective brace during games this season, and then came out for Week 1 and played without it. He didn't scramble a whole lot, nor did he have to do much. What throws he did make were mostly right on target, though. He should probably be fine for this upcoming Saturday, too, although after last week's performance (Iowa running backs had 5 TD!), I see Greg Davis handing the ball off to the two-headed monster at running back and torching what appeared to be a pretty weak linebacking corps for the Cyclones.
Kevin: If you were Matt Campbell (or any other opposing coach, really), what would be your general gameplan on offense and defense to beat the Hawkeyes? In other words, what chinks in the armor does Iowa sometimes display?
GospelOfMax: On defense, the Hawkeyes looked pretty average in all regards this past week, although they played the majority of the game without DE Parker Hesse and LB Josey Jewell, who left with an injury and targeting penalty, respectively. The defense is pretty unknown because of that (Jewell is the play-caller on defense and also a captain), but I'll go with what I saw on Saturday: the Cyclones need to run plays and there will be holes. Especially in the passing game, although Desmond King announced he'd be shadowing Allen Lazard for the entirety of the game. The pass rush was not great against Miami, and as a result, Greg Mabin lost his assignment on a decent amount of plays. If that stays true against the Cyclones, it could be another long night for a defense that gave up over 400 yards to a MAC school.
For the Cyclones defense, I'd say they just need to pray a whole ton. Iowa's offense looked unstoppable against Miami as they also blew up for over 400 yards. The Hawkeyes ran for 212 and averaged over 7 YPC and Beathard threw for 192 on only 20 attempts, and they did just about all of this without running play action or misdirection. I'd say that Iowa State needs to generate a pass rush to slow down the passing game, and that once that's established, they can focus in on the ground attack. It could happen occasionally, as Iowa's line faltered on a few occasions, but this is Iowa — the line should be solid.
Kevin: Let's hear your prediction. Iowa is heavily favored in this one... Does Vegas know all? Or does the rivalry game mean a closer outcome or even *gasp* an ISU upset?
GospelOfMax: Who are you kidding? This game is ALWAYS close for absolutely no reason, even when the Hawkeyes are really good and the Cyclones, well, aren't. Iowa State's offense didn't really show me a whole ton to be worried about and I'm not sure what to expect from their defense, so if Iowa's offense can manhandle that defense like they did Miami's, it should be a blowout. But as I said, these games are almost always close for no reason, so saying it shouldn't be close only makes me more nervous for a game decided by a field goal.
Final verdict? 31-17.
Kevin: BONUS QUESTION - As the new guy on the block for state of Iowa SB Nation blogs, we have to hear your take. FMK: Anna Kendrick, Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence. GO.
GospelOfMax: Wow. Really? Wow. Just wow. Wow. Come on, man. I have to answer this?
F - Jennifer Lawrence, M - Anna Kendrick, K - Emma Watson. It was a close one between Emma and J-Law, but even though J-Law bothers me, she's still incredibly hot.
Shucks... That’s a swing and a miss, Max. The good news is you’ll get another shot during basketball season to change your answer. #TeamEmma
Here’s hoping Iowa State wins by 100 Good luck to the Hawkeyes on Saturday!