Monday, September 19, 2005

Iowa Hawkeyes Thoughts from Week 3

At this point, I can't figure out all of the doom and gloom from many of the people on here. I've watched the games live and on tape at least 2 times each. Here are some things that I have found...

QB: Drew Tate didn't have his best quarter and a half vs. Iowa State. I understand that. But look closer at the game. First Drew Tate was 5-11 before he went out. But two balls were dropped. 7-11 for around 90 yards would have been a good start. The receivers were open against Iowa State, Manson couldn't get the ball to them though. He was 2-13 throwing the football in that game going into the 4th quarter. If Drew Tate is in the game, I guaran-damn-tee you that he would not have been 2-13 in his next thirteen throws. Drew Tate will get more confident and have another super season this year.

RB: What more can be said about Albert Young? He is a great player. He is coming off an ACL and has great moves between the tackles. People will complain about the running back as always. Nick Bell is too big for running back and not fast enough. Sedrick Shaw doesn't have breakaway speed like Tavian Banks. Tavian Banks can't run between the tackles and goes down too easily. Ladell Betts can't break the long touchdown. Fred Russell dances too much, he doesn't have breakaway speed. Jermelle Lewis puts the ball on the ground too much and can't stay healthy. Now it's Albert Young can't break the long touchdown. I think many of here need to realize that you can find faults in every running back that will come through the University of Iowa. If they are as talented as Albert Young though, accept his minimal shortcomings and watch him become one of the best backs to come through here. Shonn Greene has been a nice addition, but is certainly not ready to run the ball up against a linebacking core like Ohio State's 10-15 times. Hopefully he'll get a couple of chances and can concentrate on picking up 4-5 on a big carry at Columbus though.

WR: As I mentioned earlier, the receivers were open vs. ISU. With Tate back into the swing of things, you should see the numbers improve for both Hinkel and Solomon. I'm sure after last year you will see a lot of safety coverage over the top against Solomon this week vs. Ohio State. I expect to see Ed Hinkel to be reliable once again and to have a nice TD grab. I'm a bit disappointed that somebody from the group of Calvin Davis, Herb Gribsby or Eric McCollom haven't seperated as the #3 man at this time, but the WRs are solid at this point in time. Little to worry about right now.

TE: I hope everybody else is seeing what I am about Tony Moeaki. This kid has all the tools to be a great tight end. If he continues to work, I see no reason why he shouldn't catch 30 balls this year with a couple of TDs. Him or Chandler might be our biggest weapons this weekend. If OSU is geared up to stop Albert Young, then the TEs need to get open over the middle to create space from the linebackers and also move the safety's up, because like I said I'm sure they will have an extra eye on Solomon. Chandler has been the same he was last year, tons of ability, somewhat of an enigma. It would be great to see him bring his head to the same level of his physical ability, because he too has a great chance of being a very good tight end this season and his senior year.

OL: Did the offensive line get punished against Iowa State? For the most part I say no. First of all Iowa State has the best front 4 that Iowa will face all season. Berryman would start at DE at Ohio State and Michigan. Curvey and Leaders would both be in the rotation, if not start at both of those schools as well. Ohio State will not have the same pressure that Iowa State had. The offensive line is starting to become cohesive, and if Ben Gates can stay healthy they have a great chance of being a solid offensive line, one of the top 3-4 in the Big Ten by seasons end. The problem is that they basically have 5 guards playing along the line. It's going to be rough at times, but the run blocking has been great, (yes, great) and the pass blocking will start to come around.

DL: Yes, the most questioned unit this season. Are they going to be as good as last years'? No, of course not. But they are doing a solid job. People think that ISU manhandled the defensive line. I would like to see the game through your eyes a time or two. Iowa State did little against the Iowa d-line running the ball. Kenny Iwebema has been solid, he does need to get off the ball quicker though. Mike Follet has done a great job as well of keeping his motor running while he is learning the position. Mitch King is a stud. The other DT spot is up in the air at this point. Kroul didn't play great against UNI. I'm sure he'll make a step forward this week along with more of Ryan Bain.Will teams be able to pound the ball against Iowa this season? I don't think so. Perhaps some teams can spread out the team and get the linebackers away from the line of scrimmage, but they are not going to be able to pound the ball at Iowa. Again watch the Iowa State game, Hicks was doing little until the 4th quarter. Of course the Iowa defense was already of the field for 10 more than ISU before that quarter, and finished with 37 minutes of time possestion. But that doesn't mean anything, does it?

LB: I've said it many times before, but for some reason few people listened. Abdul Hodge has always been, and will continue to be our best linebacker. He is solid against the run, makes big hits and it always around the ball. Is he the same kind of athlete as Chad Greenway? Of course not. Greenway is a great player, no matter what you want to think about his last two performances, he has still had double digit tackle totals. Ed Miles has been around making plays as well. Perhaps people were wrong saying that Iowa has better starters than Florida State or Ohio State. But this group is still one of the top 7 units in college football.

DB: The safeties to me have been a big disappointment. I expect more about of the safties at Iowa. Perhaps we have been spoiled with guys like Damien Robinson, Bob Sanders, Sean Considine, Derek Pagel and otherse over the past decade, but the play needs to step up in a big way this week. Paschal doesn't look the same to me as he did last year. Merrick can make the tackles, no doubt about that. But he needs to improve in pass coverage. Antwan and Jovon are experienced but not the great shut down corner backs that you would like with a young defensive line. They have been helped over the past 3 years by a great defensive line, it's high time that they now help the young d-line.

Special teams: They have been good. Fenstermaker and Gallery have been much better than I would have ever expected. Hopefully they continue that at a tough place this weekend. Bradley had problems at Ann Arbor in 2002 and in Columbus in 2003. That could be the difference in this ball game. Schlicher is a stud. I don't think many people out there know how lucky we are to have him as our kicker. Look around college football, I wouldn't take many kickers over Kyle. The punt blocks/kick blocks/return game will be there once again now that the Big Ten season has rolled around.

Overall the record is a disappointment to each and every Iowa fan out there. Very few expected to be 2-1 at this point in the season. But we should all remember what this team will continue to do as the season progresses. Each and every year, going back to Iowa's 1-10 season in 1999 Kirk Ferentz has had his team playing to the MAXIMUM of their abilities in November. I'm not just talking the best football of the season, he has each and every player in the right spot to make plays and help the team be successful.

In 1999, Iowa should not have been in that game against a superior Minnesota team. But they were there until the final horn. In 2000, they shouldn't have gone to Penn State and won in Happy Valley, they were not the same kind of team as Michigan State or Minnesota. But they won those games and played to the best of their abilities. It happens every single flippin' year. Remember that. This team has weaknesses, no doubt about it. But they will continue to improve and be one of the best 8-12 college football teams in the country by November.

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