As part of a weekly tradition here at WRNL, we like to sit down with our opponent’s SBNation blog in a small, dimly-lit room with no windows and asking their favorite grandmother’s recipes and questions about this weekend’s game. Since Northern Iowa doesn’t have an SBNation blog, our first one of the season will be from the dorks out east. Jonah Parker from Black Heart Gold Pants was able to answer our questions.
1- Collectively as a team, Iowa looked great against Indiana. Though Spencer Petras was average or just a touch below that. What concerns do you have offensively going into a hostile stadium for the first time with Petras, especially against a defensive coordinator like Jon Heacock?
As much fun as week one was from a fan perspective, there are definitely still questions to be answered. The defense was fantastic and spotted the offense 14 points, so we never really saw offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz go beyond the most basic, vanilla plays in the playbook other than a few token plays to get on film for future opponents to prepare for. The end result was a pretty middling performance outside of a 56-yard touchdown run by Tyler Goodson on Iowa’s first possession.
The Hawkeyes barely topped 100 yards outside that big TD run from Goodson and Spencer Petras finished the day with just 145 yards on 13/27 passing. The big concern there is how Iowa gets the run game going to set up the passing game against what should be a better Iowa State defense. I suspect we see quite a bit more of the playbook much more aggression given Iowa essentially attempted to run out the clock the entire second half after earning a 31-3 halftime lead in week one.
2- If you had to explain to someone outside of Iowa how this Hawkeye football team is different from years past, how would you do it?
The easy answer here is that it’s not. At the end of the day, this is a very good defense that will give up yardage while working to limit scoring. The offense is middle of the road, run-first and focused on controlling the clock and limiting mistakes.
The one key difference from your traditional Iowa team is the youth on this roster. There are only three seniors listed as starters on offense and defense and all three are in the secondary. By contrast, the two-deeps feature 19 freshmen and sophomores. That was a major concern in week one against a very experienced Indiana squad, but didn’t seem to be an issue. In most of those players’ first true road game with fans, it will again be something to monitor in week two.
3- Give us a player on each side of the ball that Iowa State fans may not know yet, that they should keep an eye out for on Saturday?
As noted above, there are loads of young guys that will be on the field come Saturday so I’m going to give you two here.
On offense, the first name to note is Luke Lachey. While starter Sam LaPorta is the name everyone knows, Iowa ran a LOT of 12 and 22 personnel in week one in an attempt to get the redshirt freshman TE more snaps. He hauled in his one target for 15 yards against the Hoosiers, but I suspect he’ll get more targets as the season progresses, particularly when defensive coordinators start to game plan to take away Spencer Petras’ favorite target in LaPorta.
The other name to watch on offense is true freshman WR Keagan Johnson. The Nebraska legacy earned a lot of hype between spring ball and fall camp, but saw limited snaps week one. It’s possible he was beaten out by walk-on Jackson Ritter in the days between the depth chart being released and the game, but seems more likely the game script dictated that Iowa wanted a blocking receiver in the game much more than a deep threat. That’s unlikely to be the same case this weekend and I would expect to see the freshman get plenty of run in Ames.
4- Biggest thing Iowa needs to look out for on Saturday and why?
I’d be lying if I said I was able to catch a second of Iowa State’s week one matchup, but the biggest concern for Iowa entering the season was the inexperienced defensive line’s ability to stop the run. Indiana had little success in that regard, but their offensive line was not terribly good and the situation dictated that running was not a feasible way to win.
Given Iowa State’s superior OL and vastly superior RB situation, the biggest concern for me is the Iowa interior DL’s ability to slow down Breece Hall and ISU rushing attack.
5- Biggest thing Iowa State needs to look out for on Saturday and why?
Iowa’s biggest strength without question is the back seven. The Hawkeyes return six of seven starters there and added depth with UNI transfer Xavier Williams while sophomore Jestin Jacobs brings a ridiculous amount of athleticism as the third linebacker that Iowa hasn’t had in more than a decade.
Cyclone fans will surely roll their eyes when I say this, but if Iowa consistently forces ISU into obvious passing situations I like the Hawkeye secondary to make life difficult for Brock Purdy. We’ve seen this series come down to the turnover battle a number of times over the years and that’s a battle this group is designed to win.
6- Thoughts on two CyHawk games in a row on College Gameday
I sure hope the second one has the same result as the first one - without, you know, the hours long rain delay. Also here for any Cyclone fans who are able to turn the event into a way to raise money for a great cause!
7- Will you be in Ames on Saturday?
I will not. My last journey to Ames was fun for the first 24 hours, but ended with my eyes being scooped out with the spoon that was Bret Culbertson’s five field goals in 2007. My sister and soon to be brother-in-law are ISU grads, as is one of my best friends who happens to live roughly the same distance west of Ames as I live east, so I’m sure I’ll make it at some point. But for now, the three kiddos under 7 make it a tall task.
8- Prediction time, who are you taking and how many Busch Lights?
I came into the season expecting this Iowa team to finish 9-3 and a loss to Wisconsin away from a West division title. Despite being wrong on my prediction for the Hawkeyes to lose their first two games and build momentum from there much like a season ago, I’m going to hold firm on my prediction for week two.
I think Iowa State’s ability to run the ball will be a problem for this Iowa defense. I expect them to give up loads of yards and enough points to be out of reach for the offense. That’s not to say I think this gets high scoring. More just that I expect the ISU defense to set out to stop Tyler Goodson and the Iowa run and I don’t trust Spencer Petras to pull a Nate Stanley and win this through the air.
Iowa State 17, Iowa 16