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    Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Early Spring Peek at the September 8—The Iowa Game

    As I usually do, I looked at Hawkeye Spring Practice notes with as much interest as I do our own. After all, not only did I grow up forty miles from Iowa City, spending many a Saturday listening to Iowa games on the radio with my dad, I like to know what we’ll be facing when one particular Saturday of the ensuing Fall rolls around.

    In this case, what I found was both a pleasant and a dismaying surprise.

    Just a hint. The Hawks are lucky the game is in Iowa City this year. On the other hand, they are going to be nasty…when 2013 rolls around. Thank goodness that game will—or should be—in Ames.

    Oh, it’s not as if Iowa is without talent. James Vandenberg is a good quarterback, and Keenan Davis should follow in the footsteps of his predecessors quite nicely. C.J. Fiedorowicz is doubtless poised to blossom as well. The problem (for them) is that the rest of the team is very, very young and inexperienced. Especially the offensive line—which makes everything else go.

    All right, so James Ferentz is an anchor to build around, and you probably couldn’t ask for better in a Hawkeye center. Smart, savvy, talented and a leader. And Vince Tobin was thrown into the fire a year ago due to injuries. Matter of fact, due to those injuries, a bunch of guys got some experience—just like Cyclone offensive linemen did. Oh, I’m not saying that these guys are without talent, not hardly—obviously Ferentz knows his stuff—but I’m thinking that with new starters in at least three positions (assuming no one beats out Tobin), it’s an awful lot to ask these guys to gel in their second game of the season.

    Especially facing what should be one of the strengths of this Cyclone team.

    And then there is the Hawkeye defense, which aside from Alvis, Bigach, Morris, Kirksey and Hyde is just as green. Or moreso—albeit, again, not without talent. Though those five do make a nice core to build around. Again, the second game of the season seems a bit much for them to gel.

    Which admittedly, might be the same both for the Cyclone offensive line…and the overall Iowa State offense—though I still think Courtney Messingham’s bunch has an edge there.

    Where Coach Paul Rhoads clearly has an advantage, a group that one game should be plenty of workup, is with Wally Burnham’s boys. Assuming certain little details, of course, such as Rosey Maggitt’s return—and that Jansen Watson slides in as seamlessly as Jacques Washington did a year ago. Otherwise, this defense, which could have seven senior starters, will be loaded for bear. Or Hawk.

    Hawkeye Offensive Line versus Cyclone Defensive Line
    Ferentz is now reaping the harvest of a recruiting gamble several years ago, where rather than combing the country for elite talent, he simply signed a handful of rawboned, athletic Iowa boys. The advantage to doing so that you save money on travel expenses and scholarship costs. Well, now is when we begin to see how well that panned out for him, for several of those guys are now in the two deep. Indeed, Brett Van Sloten and Conor Boffeli are currently listed as starters. The more highly touted Ohioan Andrew Donnal isn’t. Still, over the next couple of years, we’ll see whether any of these unheralded Iowa boys performs at a Riley Rieff or Bryan Bulaga level.

    The problem for these guys, however, is that they’ll be facing a bunch that isn’t green. Well, the one that is, is probably also the most talented. Brett Van Sloten and Nolan MacMillan, meet David Irving. The rest of your mates just have to deal with a passel of seasoned juniors and seniors—and whatever underclassmen are good enough to work their way into that mix. Tobin, Ferentz, and Boffeli? Be ready to take the next day off, because Shane Burnham has half a dozen guys who are ready and willing to wear you down. Yo, Brandon Sherff, over there on the edge? Pray that you (or if Donnal beats you out) are “only” facing Willie Scott, who is both experienced and really quick—because a healthy Rosey Magitt is even better.
    Edge: ISU

    Hawkeye Backs versus Cyclone Linebackers
    Oh, what time hath wrought. Had Marcus Coker still been here, this would have been a tough matchup. He isn’t. The rest of the returnees are nothing more than a collection of fairly pedestrian backs. The only problem being, Kirk Ferentz has made a living running pedestrian backs behind his big zone blockers over the last decade. They might not do much else, but they get first downs. Deandre Johnson, the one guy with a little wiggle and burst, has been hampered by injuries. Jordan Canzeri could be a poor man’s Alexander Robinson, and Damon Bullock wants to be a wide receiver.

    Okay, so the other problem is that Greg Garmon will be coming into the fold. While Barkley Hill might be more of the same above, Garmon decidedly isn’t. The one redeeming feature here is the fact that it will still be only his second college game—and I don’t expect him to be another Herschel Walker.

    On the other hand, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott may well be the best pair of linebackers on the field at the same time for ISU. Ever. Hawk fans can relate to this. Plus, they have a solid crew both in front and behind them, plus plenty of help from their fellow linebackers and nickel backs.
    Edge: ISU

    Hawkeye Receivers versus Cyclone Secondary
    I think that Keenan Davis should be a worthy heir to the recent Hawkeye tradition of senior receivers. The only question is, where does he get any help from? Yes, Fiedorowicz is due to burst out (hmm—I wonder if Wally might cover him with Irving in some sets?). Kevonte Martin-Manley has nice hands. Aside from Donnie Shumpert, it appears that any other help will come from redshirts and incoming freshmen. Jacob Hiller and Cameron Wilson perhaps foremost among them.

    The Cyclone secondary, on the other hand, has plenty of experience. Two solid starters return in Jeremy Reeves and Jacques Washington. Durell Givens saw quite a bit of action. The only reason Jansen Watson didn’t see more snaps from scrimmage was that he was playing behind one of the best Cyclone corners ever. And frankly, anyone (like athletic Jared Brackins, speedy Ken Lynn or JUCO Clifford Stokes, among others) who beats them out is only going to do so because they are even better than those two are. The unit is not without weaknesses, but the Cyclones haven talent, experience and depth here.
    Edge: ISU

    Cyclone Special Teams versus Hawkeye Special Teams
    Ooh, this one’s a fun one, since Iowa is missing a punter, and ISU a placekicker. Iowa has a decent placekicker in Mike Meyer returning, while ISU has a very good punter in Kirby Vanderkamp. I can’t guess how good the likes of Johnny Mullings, Cole Netten or Connor Kornbrath will prove to be, though I’d have to say that generally an edge in punters equated to an advantage in field position. Should it prove that way.

    No, the decisive edge here comes in another area, the return game. ISU consistently had good returns, and coverage as well. Iowa had some acknowledged problems. That makes the defining difference.
    Edge: ISU

    Cyclone Offensive Line versus Hawkeye Defensive Line
    If I were pairing up the UI and ISU offensive lines, it would be pretty easy. Tobin and Ferentz equate to Ethan Tuftee and Tom Farniok as returning starters, but then Brayden Burris is a two year starter as well. And Carter Bykowski, Kyle Lichtenberg and Jacob Gannon also have starts under their belts.

    Huh. That accounts for all of the likely projected starters. Isn’t that interesting?

    Unfortunately, what I am matching up is instead the Hawkeye defensive line, which is also a traditional strength in Iowa City. Oh, wait, did I say “unfortunately”? Because the Hawk defensive line was also hit hard by graduation losses—some of them leftovers from two years ago. If Steve Bigach and Dominic Alvis are the two returning starters, they are also the only two players returning with any significant playing time. Carl Davis, who is also missing the Spring, got in some plays, but also struggled to control his weight. We’ll see how that battle concluded.

    The short story being that, though the Hawkeyes are beginning to have some talented players filter in, it will doubtless also take this unit time to not only gel, but mature. I honestly don’t know how their lineup will shake out, but Darian Cooper, Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekaktie are some talented players—and they aren’t the only ones. In the long run, even in ensuing seasons, this will be a group to respect.
    Not in the second game of the season, however.
    Edge: ISU

    Cyclone Backs versus Hawkeye Linebackers

    Here is an interesting matchup, though I am hesitant to add Shontrelle Johnson to the mix. ISU has a very nice group of running backs, with talent and experience, and a couple of interesting newcomers. James White is solid and tough, and can break a long one at any time. I don’t think that Iowa’s defense wants to be trying to stop Jeff Woody in the fourth quarter. Nealy and (hopefully) Johnson add elusiveness.

    At the same time, the Iowa linebackers are probably the most seasoned unit on their team. James Morris has started for a couple of years, and I really like Christian Kirksey’s pursuit, athleticism and tackling—I hope that one day C.J. Morgan is as good. Even better, from a Hawkeye perspective, with last season’s injuries, quite a few players got a chance to gain some experience. This should be a good, solid unit, with Kirksey adding that splash of flair. Not as good as ISU’s linebackers, of course, but still decent. Matter of fact, with Johnson a question, and both Standard and Nealy still unproven, the Hawks snag a break.
    Edge: UI

    Cyclone Receivers versus Hawkeye Secondary
    Y’know, matching Keenan Davis against the Cyclone returnees would be an interesting exercise as well, but that’s not the way I decided to work this. In this case, Josh Lenz, Aaron Horne, Albert Gary, Jarvis West and Chris Young make for a solid returning core to build around, at worst.

    Forgive me for not knowing exactly how to untangle the other side of the equation. Micah Hyde is a good corner, and Tanner Miller is a good athlete with plenty of experience. Much like the ISU secondary, plenty of athletes around them are read to step up. Shoot, maybe I should do an analysis of unit versus unit! After all, part of the reason that someone like B.J. Lowery didn’t play more was because he was blocked by one of the better corners in UI history. Sound familiar? Nico Law was a talented recruit who saw time on special teams. Again, sound familiar? Then there are other young talented guys, like Jordan Lomax and Torrey Campbell awaiting their turn. Plus some talented signees joining in the fall. Like elsewhere, this is going to be a very strong unit for the Hawkeyes down the road.

    The problem for this particular matchup is, the Cyclone offense has a somewhat better returning core. That being of mostly seniors, who are reading to go now. Plus, much as with the Hawks, some talented redshirts and signees are about to join those guys as well. Quenton Bundrage and Ja’Quarius Daniels especially may prove to be tough matchups. Matter of fact, I’d guess that the latter might well play Keenan Davis for the scout team when that week of practice rolls around.

    Oh, if I don’t forget the tight ends—ISU may not have a Fiedorowicz, but I’d guess that Hammerschmidt may be just as tough to tackle.

    So, the problem for the Hawks is, as nasty, tough and salty as this group might prove to be (and ISU’s as well), at only the second game of the season, the more seasoned group will have the advantage.
    Edge: ISU

    Cyclone Quarterbacks versus Hawkeye Quarterbacks
    This one’s the wildcard, isn’t it? I think that James Vandenberg is a nice, workmanlike quarterback, with a good arm and plenty of experience. He’s poised for a good senior season—if the rest of the team keeps up with him. The funny thing, though, is that I think that any of ISU’s quarterbacks can be better than him. It’s just a question of whether they will or not.

    After all, Jared Barnett kept OSU’s defense off balance with his running and passing—and I don’t expect the Hawk defense to be any better than that Cowboy unit at this stage. As far as Steele Jantz, perhaps the only way he’ll be out there is if he has matured and minimized the mistakes. In which case, watch out!
    Edge: UI


    Last edited by Aclone; 03-27-2012 at 05:55 PM.


    Paul Rhoads' players never quit.
    (They just disappear offseason)


  2. #2
    CyBer
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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Iowa will win this game because it's at their home, and then they will think they are going to be national champions and end up with a losing season.



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    UI should win this game at home, but I think PR wants to bowl again, and this will be a very important part of that. I see a Cyclone victory. Depth and experience will bring this one our way. I would not be surprised to get up on them early and not let them get close.


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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    UI is going to have trouble with their new coaches. New plays...ect. I'm glad we got this game early in the season though. I'm going to take ISU. I think we are just a much better team this year.


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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Quote Originally Posted by Clones21 View Post
    UI is going to have trouble with their new coaches. New plays...ect. I'm glad we got this game early in the season though. I'm going to take ISU. I think we are just a much better team this year.
    I wouldn't say we are a much better team.

    Same level. Their house. Edge to them.



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    I really feel like we win this game. Honestly, I'll be surprised if we don't.


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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Quote Originally Posted by FDCy83 View Post
    but I think PR wants to bowl again


    whoever wins in the trenches wins this game 9/10 times



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Jake McDounough vs Ferentz = great matchup!



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    i don't see the hoks even scoring a TD



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    My opinion is, like the overall season, ISU's fortunes will depend on its QB play. If they can get Jantz to limit the turnovers or Barnett to play like he did for most of the OSU game, ISU has a clear advantage. My thought (although I don't pay super close attention to them) is that iowa is decimated on the DL. Alvis is an OK player who is returning from a knee injury...similar to Maggitt. Davis and Bigach are not difference makers. Iowa has good LBs and I like Hyde at CB and Miller at S. But, their D lacks depth and talent. ISU should be able to pound the ball at them and break some runs with White, Nealy and hopefully Shontrelle. If iowa stacks the box, like I expect them to, then it depends on the QB making the intermediate to deep throws to keep them honest. WR screens and short passes aren't going to back them up.

    On the other side of the ball, I think that we can always expect KF to have at least an average OL. They'll find a RB able to run the zone read. Vandenberg can be dangerous and their WRs are OK. I believe that ISU can slow them down, but they'll need a pass rush to do it. Knott, Klein and McDonough will make it tough on their run game.

    I expect the game to be high scoring. IF ISU can get consistant play at QB, they should be able to win by 10-14. If they're throwing picks or having accuracy problems, they could lose.



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    If this game is within two scores, we may have issues. Seriously, we should dominate this game.


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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Based on these breakdowns it almost looks like next year could be a defensive battle and won't come anywhere close to the 44-41 thriller we got last year.

    We'll see. It's kind of exciting with both programs at about the same place: Young, inconsistent and adjusting to some new coaches. Will be a really interesting early-season test.



  13. #13
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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Quote Originally Posted by Tre4ISU View Post
    If this game is within two scores, we may have issues. Seriously, we should dominate this game.
    It's at their place and it's always tough away from home.



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    Re: Early Spring Peek at September 8

    Quote Originally Posted by CyBer View Post
    It's at their place and it's always tough away from home.
    Iowa's talent level is way down. ISU has more talent across the board. I only see this being close if the ISU qb has a terrible day or ISU turns the ball over many times.

    Even turning it over in the red zone last year ISU still won the game. Iowa loses about every difference maker they had. People talk about their linebackers who are average at best.

    ISU should win this by two touchdowns.



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    Matchup

    Quote Originally Posted by D UP Clones View Post
    Iowa's talent level is way down. ISU has more talent across the board. I only see this being close if the ISU qb has a terrible day or ISU turns the ball over many times.

    Even turning it over in the red zone last year ISU still won the game. Iowa loses about every difference maker they had. People talk about their linebackers who are average at best.

    ISU should win this by two touchdowns.
    I can't tell if you're being serious or not. Two touchdowns? In Iowa City? I love the idea despite it being slightly psychotic. Aclone's breakdown is fun to read despite it's obvious bias towards us. Here's a little more accurate breakdown of the position battles:

    QB... Iowa obviously has the advantage here
    RB... ISU obviously has the advantage here
    OL... Iowa has a slight advantage here
    TE.. Iowa obviously has an advantage here
    WR.. A wash. I think we have more talent in the wings, but Iowa has two kids that are better than our returning experience so a wash until our freshmen step up
    DT.. ISU has a slight advantage here
    DE.. ISU has a slight advantage here. It would be bigger if Irving becomes a football player this fall. Iowa has nothing at DE
    LB... ISU has a moderate advantage here. We're very good at two spots but weak at the 3rd. Iowa has one good backer and two average kids. We win that battle
    CB... Iowa by a mile
    S... Iowa obviously has the advantage here

    As far as what's going to win this game? It's the line play. If Iowa can open up holes against our DL for their quick backs to get through, we'll be in trouble. Iowa had a horrible game plan last year in Ames. How they didn't pick us apart with McNutt and Davis is amazing. They thought they could run it down our throat all game and couldn't. Iowa's Oline is either going to be really good or really bad. If the Iowa kid and win a guard spot, they will have an advantage over ISU's dline.

    Our weakest area going into 2012 is Oline (followed closely by defensive backfield). Fortunately for us, Iowa's dline should be the 2nd weakest one we face all year. If we can move them around and create traffic for their quick but undersized linebackers, ISU should have a lot of success on the ground. We have an advantage with our Oline over their Dline, and it will allow us to hit some big plays over the top in the passing game.

    Iowa stays in it by utilizing their big TE and RB's in the passing game (the one weakness AK and Jake have is in coverage), but ISU should win this game unless we commit some untimely turnovers. It just won't be the "easy" 2 TD win some are praying for.



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