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Archive for October, 2010

What we learned Saturday

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Things we learned in Iowa’s 37-6 victory over Michigan State on Saturday:

– There’s a very good chance that the fourth best team in the Big Ten will end up in the Rose Bowl. Michigan State is still in the driver’s seat because it would win almost every three-way tiebreaker, but the Spartans were exposed Saturday as a less-than-championship quality team. They appear to be no better than the fourth best team in the Big Ten, but are going to benefit from not having to play Ohio State this season.

– Iowa has tremendous depth at linebacker and has few worries about the future at that position despite having four senior linebackers on the roster. James Morris and Shane DiBona made their first career starts Saturday and didn’t look at all like freshmen. Both will be major contenders for starting jobs next season.

– Adam Robinson is not the best running back in the Big Ten, but he might be the most versatile. In addition to rushing for 69 tough yards and a touchdown Saturday, he also caught a 32-yard touchdown pass. And when Ricky Stanzi scrambled to his left in the first quarter, Robinson leveled maybe the best linebacker in the country, Greg Jones, with a ferocious blindside block. There doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t do.

– The Hawkeyes’ secondary is getting better. It may have played its best game of the season Saturday. Three of the four starters had an interception and the fourth guy, Micah Hyde, took a lateral from Tyler Sash and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown return. Michigan State spent much of the day trying to pick on Shaun Prater but the junior cornerback responded to the challenge with a timely interception and a team-high 10 tackles.

– Coach Kirk Ferentz is gaining confidence in freshman running back Marcus Coker. After not using him in any of the past three games, Coker got the ball 16 times in the second half.

– Ferentz isn’t completely adverse to using trick plays. Some of us have been waiting for two years to see ex-quarterback Marvin McNutt throw a pass off a reverse and they finally did it Saturday although the timing was odd. They called the play in the fourth quarter, long after the outcome had been decided.

Site gives Kinnick a 4 on a scale of 5

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Kinnick Stadium was featured last week on a website called stadiumjourney.com, which basically is a handful of ordinary guys who travel around the country doing reviews on sports venues ranging from independent league baseball parks to the biggest stadiums in the country. Its stated goal is “to become a world-class community resource for sports fans, built around optimizing the experience of traveling to and attending live sporting events.’’

So, how did Kinnick fare in the site’s review? Pretty well. It received an average score of 4.0 on a 5.0 scale in seven categories. It got perfect 5s for Atmosphere and Neighborhood; 4s for Fans, Access and Return on Investment; and 3s for Food and Beverage and Extras.

“The atmosphere at Kinnick is one of the best in college football,’’ reviewer Nick Kappel wrote. “The team is introduced from the tunnel to AC/DC’ s ‘Back in Black,’ firing up the already rowdy crowd.’’

Of the 20 or so college stadiums that have been reviewed this fall, only Alabama (4.7), Ohio State (4.6), Notre Dame (4.6) and Central Florida (4.1) received higher scores. Almost all the college stadi-ums received scores between 3 and 4 with the worst grades going to Ball State (2.1) and Colorado State (2.3).

Things we learned Saturday

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Some of the things we learned in Iowa’s 38-28 victory over Michigan on Saturday:

– Denard Robinson is not a Heisman Trophy candidate. He probably isn’t even the best quarterback on his team. Tate Forcier made some mistakes, too, but he also shredded the Iowa defense for the better part of the second half. Michigan looks as though it could use a good running back. So, why not move Robinson to running back and get both these guys on the field at the same time?

– We may have found the chink in Iowa’s armor: Cornerbacks. Shaun Prater looked lost a few times Saturday and Micah Hyde looked worse. Both players have some ability, but some improvement is needed if the Hawkeyes are going to make a run at the Big Ten title. They’re going to face better quarterbacks in almost every game the rest of the season.

– Iowa has tremendous depth at linebacker. If there was one layer of the defense that played well Saturday, it probably was the linebacking trio of Tyler Nielsen, Jeremiha Hunter and Troy Johnson, who was the No. 3 middle linebacker when the season began. Those three combined for 34 tackles, Nielsen twice nailed Robinson for losses and Johnson had the interception that sealed the victory with 59 seconds to go.

– Adam Robinson is a horse. Some of us already were fans of this kid, but he stepped it up even another notch Saturday, carrying 31 times for 143 yards, catching 4 passes for 61 yards and making several clutch plays that led to the victory. He seemed to be stronger at the end than he was at the beginning of the game.

Three reasons Iowa will win at the Big House

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Three reasons I think Iowa will be able to defeat Michigan Saturday in their nationally-televised 2:36 p.m. matchup at Michigan Stadium:

– Michigan’s offense lives on big plays and Iowa’s defense doesn’t give up big plays. While Wolverines’ quarterback Denard Robinson has been ripping off big chunks of yardage against opponents in the first half of this college football season, he will prove himself to be something really special if he can do the same against the Hawkeyes, who are second in the nation in rushing de-fense. Iowa has allowed only two running plays of more than 20 yards this season – a 36-yard gallop by Eastern Illinois Cody Bruns on a fake punt and a 26-yard run by Penn State’s Evan Royster after the outcome of that game had already been decided. In the past season and a half, the longest touchdown run allowed by Iowa is 22 yards.

– Michigan’s defense is pretty bad. At times in their game against Michigan State, the Wolverines didn’t look as though they ever had seen a play-action pass before. What’s the staple of the Iowa offense? The play-action pass.

– Large crowds don’t seem to bother the Hawkeyes. They played two of their best games last sea-son in front of six-figure crowds at Penn State and Ohio State. The big throng at the Big House is likely to be a big non-factor.

That is not to say the game might not be close, especially if the Hawkeyes commit turnovers and make the same kind of mistakes they made a month ago at Arizona. But I don’t see that happening.

Good time for a bye week

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been on record for some time as saying he doesn’t like bye weeks. He hates the idea of taking a Saturday off in the middle of the season.

But this time he’ll take it.

“This week couldn’t be better,’’ Ferentz said after his team had moved to 4-1 with a 24-3 victory over Penn State. “It’s right in the middle of our season. We’ve been at this thing eight weeks, now we’ve got eight more from today, so I couldn’t find a better time for it.’’

There are a lot of reasons to like the bye week at this point in the season:

– The Hawkeyes have a lot of players banged up and nursing minor injuries, especially at the middle linebacker position. Bruce Davis is out for the year and seniors Jeff Tarpinian and Troy Johnson were unable to play in the second half Saturday. Freshman James Morris did OK as a replacement, but the Hawkeyes certainly are a better team with Tarpinian, who should be fine after a week off.

– The place-kicking situation remains a bit unsettled. Veteran Daniel Murray was in uniform for the first time this season Saturday and should be ready to go by a week from Saturday. Going into Michigan’s “Big House’’ a week from Saturday, it might be better to use a seasoned senior rather than freshman Michael Meyer.

– Adam Robinson held up well while carrying the ball 28 times Saturday, but the Hawkeyes eventually are going to need a backup running back. The extra week gives them a chance to get freshmen Marcus Coker and Brad Rogers ready. Rogers lined up at tailback just once Saturday, but the Hawkeyes were called for illegal procedure on that play.

– The bye week gives the Iowa coaches some extra time to prepare for one of most the most dynamic offensive forces in the country: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who rolled up another 495 yards and five touchdowns Saturday against Indiana.