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‘Experts’ can be quiet now

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Although James Vandenberg and his teammates insisted they weren’t into moral victories or consolation prizes, there were a lot of things they could take away from Saturday’s 27-24 overtime loss to Ohio State.

They proved that the Iowa offense does not move by Ricky Stanzi alone. They showed that no one on this team is completely irreplaceable. Vandenberg served notice that the Hawkeyes have a quarterback of the future, once Stanzi is gone.

Best of all, they shut up some of those national “experts’’ who gave Iowa zero chance of even being competitive with Ohio State.

Some of the pregame commentaries were pretty outrageous. One of the “experts’’ on the 9-hour pregame show on a Columbus radio station said this was one time Ohio State could go into “Michigan mode’’ a week early because this wasn’t even going to be a contest.

(Sure, like Michigan is going to be a big test. The Wolverines are no better than the ninth best team in the Big Ten. Right now, at this point in time, they might be No. 10 or 11. I’d say Ohio State can go into Rose Bowl mode about six weeks early.)

On the ESPN Game Day show, Desmond Howard (an old Michigan man, by the way), said Ohio State would beat Iowa by at least three touchdowns. His cohort, Lee Corso, said Iowa had two chances to win – “slim and none.’’

Of course, a lot of us long ago stopped regarding Corso as any sort of expert.

Robinson deserves to start

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

You never know what Kirk Ferentz might do, but it really would be kind of shocking to see him start Paki O’Meara at running back again next week when Iowa visits Iowa State.

O’Meara was that bad Saturday. And Adam Robinson was that … well, he was better than O’Meara.

Robinson, an unheralded redshirt freshman from Des Moines, rushed for 63 yards in 15 carries in Saturday’s too-close-for-comfort 17-16 victory over Northern Iowa. He handled almost all the Hawk-eyes’ ballcarrying duties in the second half.

The insinuation was that Robinson got all the action after halftime because O’Meara suffered a nasty cut on his head when his helmet was knocked off during a play.

“My helmet popped off and I tried to keep going and get a few more yards, and I think I got hit again,’’ O’Meara explained. “It was bleeding a little bit and I needed a couple stitches.’’

However, as I recall, that happened very early in the game. O’Meara didn’t take a seat on the sidelines until after he fumbled the ball away in the opening minutes of the second half. He finished with 16 yards in nine carries with his longest gain being five yards.

Robinson was much more effective and scored a third-quarter touchdown on an 11-yard run.

The other running backs on the roster – Jeff Brinson and Brandon Wegher – both saw some action on special teams. It not be long before we see them running the ball, too.

Hampton injury a concern

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Close to a dozen players sat out Iowa’s public scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, mostly for precautionary reasons.

My guess is the one that Hawkeye fans need to be most concerned about is sophomore Jewel Hampton, who is being counted on to step into the starting running back job.

Bryan Bulaga, who might be the best offensive tackle in the Big Ten, didn’t suit up after “tweaking’’ his knee the day before but he ran a few sprints and seemed OK. Receiver Colin Sandeman said his hamstring injury isn’t a big deal. Tackle Kyle Calloway, who is suspended for the first game anyway, took part in a few drills. Chances are, the other guys who sat out won’t make the two-deeps anyway.

But the absence of Hampton, because of his importance to the Hawkeyes’ fortunes and because this is the second time in about a month that he has injured his right knee, has to be cause for concern.

With Hampton out, former walk-on Paki O’Meara ran with the No. 1 unit and actually looked pretty good. People keep dismissing O’Meara as a legitimate contender for the starting job, assuming that redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson is a better prospect, but O’Meara remains ahead of Brinson on the depth chart and he looked better Saturday.

O’Meara ripped off about a 30-yard run at one point while Brinson’s most impressive moment was a play in which he stayed on his feet following a head-on collision with Adrian Clayborn, then was swallowed up by other defenders for about a 5-yard loss. Bear in mind that O’Meara was running against the No. 2 defense while Brinson was carrying the ball against the No. 1s.

Adam Robinson, a redshirt freshman from Des Moines with decent quickness but not much size, is the only other guy who might be ready for any sort of playing time at this time. I could see him being effective against Northern Iowa and Iowa State, but probably not Penn State or Ohio State.

Incoming freshman Brandon Wegher, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a senior in high school last fall, was not in uniform for the scrimmage and another true freshman, Brad Rogers, didn’t look that great in very limited opportunities.