WRNL sat down and gave a good talkin’ to the fellas over at Black Heart Gold
Potatoes Pants. Also, they answered some questions about this weekend’s mashup matchup.
Many Iowa fans were a bit weary about the quarterback position going into the Wyoming game, given the lack of experience at the position. Has the feeling around the quarterback spot changed at all?
Nate Stanley performed pretty well in his limited opportunities on Saturday against the Cowboys. He completed just 8/15 of his passes, but three of those went for touchdowns, so he did have success through the air when given an opportunity. The biggest concern after Week 1 was his tendency to put the ball on the turf - he lost two fumbles and coughed it up a third time, but was able to fall back on it. He shouldn't have the same issues with fumbling in his second start, but it will be interesting to see how a tough road crowd will affect the first-year starter, if at all. His only career road appearance came against Purdue, whose crowd probably doesn't pack the same sort of punch that an in-state rivalry game will.
Everyone and their grandmother knows that Iowa hangs it's hat defensively on their front seven, especially given the presence of Josey Jewell. How much will Iowa have to lean on his experience following the graduation of Desmond King and a relatively inexperienced secondary?
After the first week, I'm not so sure that Iowa is worried about how their secondary will perform. They essentially shut down a quarterback that many consider to be a future first-rounder despite their inexperience - Josh Jackson made some absolutely huge plays down the stretch, Jake Gervase surprised a lot of people with his good, consistent play, and Michael Ojemudia was solid while filling in for a suspended Manny Rugamba. Rugamba will be back against the Cyclones, which will move Ojemudia back to nickel and give the Hawks a bit more depth at corner. There will be some growing pains, as the lone senior in the secondary is Miles Taylor, but they look like they'll be better than most people expect.
I'm going to get back to your question and talk about Josey Jewell, though - you're right about the fact that he's the heart and soul of this defense. He makes many of the adjustments and could potentially be an All-American and All-Big Ten player in 2017, so it's only natural that the team will rely on him to be the difference maker. Watch this play from the Wyoming game and look at what Jewell does - he goes out in coverage against the running back, then sprints all the way across the field to stop Josh Allen in his tracks. He's the leader of the defense, and when your leader does stuff like that, it only elevates the way the rest of the team plays.
Who's a player, on both defense and offense, Iowa State fans may not be familiar with that we should keep on eye on?
On offense, a player that will probably make the biggest impact in the passing game is Noah Fant. Fant is a sophomore tight end who caught two balls in Week 1, both of them for touchdowns. He has great speed to go along with his 6'5" frame and is a matchup nightmare for teams. He also appears to be Stanley's safety net this season so you should expect to hear his name a few times on Saturday. Honorable mention would be Nick Easley, although Iowa State fans might know of him after he decided not to walk on at ISU and attend Iowa instead.
On the other side of the ball, Josh Jackson is a guy who's been around for a couple years now that will finally get his chance to shine after the departures of Greg Mabin and Desmond King. He had an interception late in the game this past week and a super athletic pass deflection on a deep ball in the end zone to save a touchdown. Since Iowa tends to have their corners cover just one side of the field, he'll likely matchup against Lazard on and off throughout the night and you'll probably hear his name pretty often.
Iowa State's secondary forced three interceptions against UNI on Saturday, two of which resulted in touchdowns. How do you expect the Hawks' passing game to counter the aggressiveness and talent of the Iowa State secondary?
Regardless of who their opponent is, the Hawks are going to pick and choose their spots on when they want to throw the ball. More often than not, they'll probably counter the defense with short passes and play-action, but they'll try to pick the spots where they go deep pretty carefully. It's kind of a cop out, but this is probably true - they're most likely to counter an aggressive secondary with their running game. They have two senior running backs who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2016 and an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award last year almost exclusively because of their run blocking. They'll try to run the ball down the throat of the Iowa State defense and then try to catch the Cyclones cheating with play action.
What's your impression of Brian Ferentz's play-calling so far?
Well it's only been one week and they were breaking in a first-year starter, so it's really hard to say. Stanley only threw 15 times and he'll likely throw the ball a bit more in his second game, even if only to his running backs - Akrum Wadley only saw one target, which is a departure from a 2016 season where he caught 36 passes, and you would expect that he and James Butler see more in the future. Wadley and Butler combined for 34 rushes and 163 yards, and you can probably expect to see them run it just as much on Saturday because Iowa is Iowa and the foundation is always going to be the ground game.
We saw a tight end handoff at one point and the jet sweep made an appearance, so it looks like Brian is willing to be more creative than his predecessor, which is nice. There was also a great seam pass to Noah Fant for a touchdown at the end of the first half, which is a sight for sore eyes after the Hawkeyes focused on short passes for the majority of the past few years. I think that overall, Ferentz is going to be less predictable than Greg Davis was once his new quarterback feels more comfortable in his role, but Iowa is still going to be a team that wants to run the ball straight at you and beat you with play-action on occasion. Provided that there's a passing game that will balance things out and keep teams from stacking the box, I think that's perfectly fine.
What improvements would you like to see on each side of the ball before Saturday?
On defense, I'm not sure there's anything they could improve upon too much. The Hawks limited Wyoming to just 2 YPC and forced them to beat them in the air, but kept Josh Allen off balance enough that he only completed about half his throws for 174 yards. There were a couple breakdowns that Wyoming couldn't capitalize on, but overall, the defense can't play a whole lot better than they did in Week 1. "Bend, don't break" is the motto, and they'll do their best to fulfill it.
The other side of the ball is a different story. I've repeated a couple times now that Stanley performed perfectly fine in his starting debut, but he needs to limit the turnovers against Iowa State. The offensive line didn't push around the Cowboys like many would have liked, and with two injured linemen returning in Week 2, that should stabilize them a bit and keep Stanley out of situations where he will face pressure.
Panchero's or Chipotle?
Panchero's has far superior tortillas (and queso, obviously), but Chipotle has barbacoa. Panch when I've been out on the town, Chipotle the rest of the time. It's essentially a wash.
Is it called "bags" or "cornhole?"
It's called bags. Let's not be silly.
How much do you expect the Cyclones to win by?
I've got the Hawkeyes in this one. I think Stanley will hit Fant for another touchdown this week and the two-headed monster of BUTWAD will run for over 200 yards and two more touchdowns. Iowa's defense stays stout in this one and leads it to victory.
Iowa 31, Iowa State 10.