Thursday, September 8, 2011

Iowa State Predictions

The uncertainty that is the week leading up to the Iowa State has settled in leaving many Iowa fans still wondering what they will see on Saturday.  After the glorified scrimmage that was the game last week, it is almost as if the Hawkeyes will be playing their first game of the season.  Here are my thoughts.

Line Battles.  Evidently Iowa State’s offensive line was less than impressive last week against UNI.  Granted, two of its starting offensive linemen, including All-American candidate Kelechi Osemele, were either injured or not playing due to suspension, so it is difficult to assess that unit’s performance.  One of the key matchups on Saturday will be whether Lebron Daniel is able to generate any type of pass rush against Osemele, who has approximately an 80 lbs. weight advantage over the Hawkeye.  Iowa’s defensive line will not only need to generate a pass rush with the four down linemen, but they also need to finish a sack or tackle for loss when the opportunity presents itself.  It will be interesting to see how much of a push the Iowa offensive line is able to get against the Iowa State defensive line and, perhaps more importantly, whether Marcus Coker runs more aggressively than he did last week.

Special Teams.  As I mentioned in my comments following the Tennessee Tech game, Iowa’s kickoff coverage unit picked up where it left off last year—looking dismal and lost at times.  A long kickoff return by Iowa State is the type of play that can ignite an already hostile fanbase in a rivalry game and put the road team behind the proverbial eight ball.  It will also be interesting to see how Eric Guthrie and Mike Meyer respond in a hostile road environment.

Drops and Missed Blocks.  Beyond the obvious errors that one may observe during a game (e.g. a dropped ball or missed tackle), there are many more subtle errors that keep coaches up at night and lead to big plays going the other way.  With that in mind, there are many key positions at which Iowa is very inexperienced, including fullback and free safety.  While I think Iowa fans can certainly trust Micah Hyde’s instincts and athleticism, he still has a lot to learn as evidenced by him getting sucked in on a play-action and getting beat deep.  Perhaps I should take this opportunity to amend my earlier statement that Iowa would miss Brett Morse the most the season by adding Brett Greenwood to that list.

Vandenberg.  Iowa State will most certainly try to eliminate Marvin McNutt as a target by placing talented senior Leonard Johnson across him from the line of scrimmage.  While we have certainly seen that James Vandenberg can play in a hostile environment, how well he respond with a surrounding cast that is arguably not as talented as the persons that were in the skill positions for Iowa in 2009.  The obvious answer is that Keenan Davis will need to make himself an open target for Vandenberg, but the third and fourth options, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Brad Herman, CJ Fiedorowicz, and others need to improve on their performances from last week that led to several dropped passes.

Assuming that Iowa starts with the ball, it will be critical for the Hawkeyes to move the ball down the field and score.  As is the case for any favored road team, a close game allows the underdog to continue to think that they are in the game and keeps the fan base engaged.  If we see Iowa come out with a stretch play to the left and then to the right, I think we are all in for a long day.  Although it is against my religion to pick Iowa State, I have a bad feeling that several factors set this game up perfectly for an Iowa State win:  the game is in Ames, Iowa is inexperience at several key positions, and the usual weird things that happen during Iowa-Iowa State games.  With that said, I have convinced myself that Iowa State will likely win this game, but I sure as hell am not about to put that in writing.

Prediction:  Iowa 21 Iowa State 20

Pick to Click:  James Morris 


  1. Any team with a QB called Steele Jantz cannot be overlooked

  2. Lack of consistency on offense hurts the Clowns. VBerg shines going 17/24 2 TD's.
    Hawks 24 Clowns 14
    P2C: Keenan Davis