Mike Lantry, 1972
Anyone know of the best spot to tailgate this weekend in Iowa City? I'm headed over for the game with friends and we are curious. I have a suggestion for the "Finkbine Commuter Lot"...is this good?
Not sure how much you have kept up since not playing these guys for 2 years. Thought I would provide some background. I also added a section at the end for those who will be going to the game and staying in Iowa City. Be forewarned that it is homecoming so everything will be busy (yes, we are the homecoming patsy).
Don’t read into Iowa playing down with UNI and Ark St, this is a look ahead team that struggles somewhat with passing spread teams. UNI was before Iowa State who has made Ferentz look average to poor (mostly due to McCarney, possibly even kept them from the NC game in 2002) and Ark St is obviously before us. If there is a shred of hope, remember that we snapped a 22 game home winning streak during our last trip as an underdog and that Iowa is not as tough as the favorite in big games. You could worry about the PSU result, but Ferentz owns JoePa to nearly the extent that Lloyd did and I would take that game with a grain of salt. Not predicting a win here, but you can grasp at a few straws.
While some in Iowa have compared Stanzi to Brady (I almost fainted when I wrote this), I do see a good game manager who throws well on the run. Typical pro set routes, with a particular emphasis on going over the middle to RBs or TEs (really like the TE) with an occasional crossing route from the slot. This is a lousy match up for us. They seem to use RBs and TEs more than most teams in the passing game which is typically set up with the play action. However, Ricky also throws the Stanziball, typically 1-2 a game where you have no idea what he was doing so you get 3 TDs with 2 INTs for most of his games this year. The hope is that we get lucky with a few of those as they seem to come at random times. He seems to be a slow starter so grab an extra beer if he starts hot.
The Oline is big, as usual, no real news there. The return of Bulaga is not good for us as he is being projected as a first round pick and has had one game to work out his timing. Calloway is a very good compliment tackle with a strong interior anchored by Eubanks. I simply dislike the match up with our Dline unless we gamble like crazy. The TEs are much better with Moeaki playing due to his athleticism, but Reisner is pretty solid as well. We will be hating it if we can’t cover these guys coming off the line of scrimmage (I don’t have much confidence that we can due to our LB play, would like to be pleasantly surprised).
The WRs are decent, Johnson-Koulianos started the season on track to break a few all-time Iowa records and is the best receiving threat IMO. However, Marvin McNutt does not have a ton of catches yet, but scares the hell out of me since he is a converted QB that stands 6’4” and creates match up issues for our CBs. I really doubt we lose by getting hit deep with these guys with more of a death by converting on 2nd or 3rd and 10s, but watch me end up eating my words on the long ball.
RBs took a hit losing Hampton at the beginning of the year, but got a surprise with Robinson (smaller bowling ball) and Wegher (smaller slasher). Wegher seems to be more elusive with a fast start who would actually be pretty good on our team. Both guys can get lost behind the line and then pop out. Robinson may be the better receiver out of the backfield who will not go down with an arm tackle once he gets some steam. Neither guy has played before this year with Wegher being a true freshman. Look out if they give Brinson a try as he is a big power back, as he actually may be the most talented back they have. Fortunately, he has also been slow to pick up the offense which has limited his PT.
News flash- it will be a 4-3 or just look at the year before or the year before…. Norm Parker does not make substitutions for the most part with the exceptions of a few down and distance situations. I don’t know how, but he rolls the same guys regardless of the offensive style. However, they play very good assignment football and tackle well. Many Iowa fans agree that this is a reason for their success since it minimizes thinking by not relying on exotic schemes which helps the players play faster. On the flip side there is always concern when a spread offense comes to town since there is an assumption that the base defensive alignment will get exposed at some point. The unnatural ability of Chad Greenway to cover slot guys has made a permanent mark on Norm so he continues to roll the same way.
On the Dline, Clayborn and Binns on the ends will create headaches and rush the outside hard to funnel things to the middle. Clayborn is more athletic and simply a big, bad dude. The DTs are decent and big (one is aptly named Klug), but not spectacular. There is has not been the big drop off from losing last year’s starting DT tandem. The Dline likes to run twists to create confusion.
Angerer leads the LB group and is a tackling machine along with Edds who is also pretty solid. You may remember the recruitment of Jeremiha Hunter who we chased at one point, but did not go to the good guys. There are more athletic LB units, but this group seems to be constantly around the ball and I would hope we can spread them out to minimize their effectiveness. With all of them in the 230-245lb range they would not have the S. Brown type of speed, but seem to work through that for the most part.
In the secondary, Spievey is considered to be one of Ferentz’s best CBs he has had while at Iowa. Sash is a ball hawking safety who is simply around the ball a lot, by instinct or scheme I do not know. Both Greenwood and Prater are decent at safety and CB respectively. I think Greenwood gets the benefit of playing with Sash which gives him opportunities. Overall, a very (not to overuse the word) solid unit that plays together very well. They don’t seem to make many mistakes.
Yes Kinnick is loud and honestly I am not sure why considering the stadium design. I think the people are simply loud as Iowans don’t have professional teams and pour it all into the college. They will be (have been for a while) foaming at the mouth for the chance to see big, bad Michigan brought down. It will be statement game for sure as many (who may not admit it) chafe at being considered part of the “little 8” for so long. Don’t expect a Columbus-type welcome, but be ready for some chest thumping. I have heard my share “can’t wait to play you guys”. To be fair, I do wear Michigan gear to games, sing “hail” and have never been beat up so +1 for reasonable fans.
Don’t waste time in Coralville, go straight to the Pedestrian Mall down by campus. However if you are stuck there, the Wig and Pen has by far the hottest wait staff in town so there are worse things. The 30+ crowd will be at the Airliner and the <30 crowd everywhere else. You have 2 bars next to the ‘liner and will be on the parade route on Friday so expect a mob scene. If you just walk around a few square block radius and you will pretty much find everything else from a bar perspective. Just don’t rely on prompt taxi service if you are meeting people in any of these places. Also, if you are in the Ped Mall really late, treat yourself to a Gyro at one of the food stands. For other food needs
Inexpensive: Oasis- Mediterranean faster food. Get the whole pita sandwich with extra feta (close to campus)
Mid-priced: Bluebird Diner- Everything on the menu is really good. Looks like a diner, but actually has a real cook. The bonus of being there is that it is next to John’s Grocery which has a great assortment of beers and wine for later.
Higher priced: Linn Street Café- Terrific fine dining (by big city standards) with a great wine list. Would need reservations for this one.
Lastly, if you like chocolates and you see the store or them on a menu, get yourself some Bochner Chocolates. He is a UM grad and does some outstanding work. Not the cheapest, but damn good if you have a sweet tooth.
I just wanted to come over and give my two cents on what to expect from Iowa and also see what you guys had to say about what the Wolverines have to offer since this version is new to us. As far as the Hawks are concerned, we've seen very good defense, inconsistent offense and fairly solid special teams. The offense has been inconsistent largely because of players missing. We started the year with two OL out against UNI, got one of them back for ISU, but lost another (Bulaga) for the next three games, with Tony Moeaki largely absent during most of this time as well. Also out for the season is Jewel Hampton, the projected starting RB, but the two freshmen are doing just fine in his stead. Wegher is a good one. Also out here and there has been Johnson-Koulianos, but we have been as deep as ever in our receiving corps, so this hasn't been as big an issue. The other story on offense has been Ricky "Pick-Six" Stanzi. At times he's looked like the field general we need, and at others, he's giving up six points faster than you can say Oskie! He has shown improvement this year from one game to the next, but his penchant for throwing balls right at 2-3 defenders is mindboggling. We are going deep more than I've seen in the recent past, mostly due to the talent of McNutt and Stross on the outside. Moeaki's replacement, Reisner, is a very good receiving TE, but not quite the complete package with blocking ability that Tony is. Also lost in the shuffle has been great play from our FB, Brett Morse, who is a very solid blocker and decent receiving threat out of the backfield, but has seen maybe one carry so far this year. Will throw this out there for now, need to go to work. Defense to follow... Feel free to throw in details about your guys please.
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The general consensus here in Iowa is that Hawkeye fans are nervous about the Michigan game, but they are feeling much more secure and confident after the Hawkeye performance at State College. The Iowa offense is really not that good, but they have a good O-line and some very good young running backs. Stanzi is the type of QB who you want to just not lose the game for you. Receivers are average. Kicker is decent, and the Hawkeye punter is on par with He Who Cannot Be Named. Iowa defense is just plain good -- possibly the best front seven in the Big Ten. One of their safeties, Tyler Sash, has had a bunch of picks already, but he's been Johnny-on-the-Spot against some weak players (Arnaud from Iowa State comes to mind).
I also have four tickets to the Illinois game in Champaign on Halloween, and so my fiancee and I are meeting two friends from Indianapolis there. I have not been to Memorial Stadium, but I understand that I'm in for a pretty brutal time. Hell, just last summer, driving through Illinois, I saw "Muck Fichigan" t-shirts in a convenience store. I just hope that the Illini continue to struggle, and that Juice Williams is not going to replicate his performance from last year against us.
Anyone else going to these games?
These are the characteristics of a successful defensive system:
- Lots of talent of varying experience levels at ALL positions.
- Coaches at every position who can coach technique.
- A coordinator who knows scheme.
- A coordinator who can communicate what he wants done by his position coaches.
- All of the above in place w/o change for at least a few years.
Let's examine the two teams in regards to these areas.
- Not really high talent, but does have players used to the system from seniors to freshmen. Seniors teach the younger players what the coaches expect and also hearing the same thing but in different words deepens understanding.
- In spades.
- That staff has been together for so long, this is absolutely true.
- The real secret behind Iowa's defensive success.
- No. Most of the talent is concentrated on the DL. Warren is obviously awesome, but Mouton and Brown are highly rated SAFETIES, and are playing LB. Mike Williams and Cissoko are young players, but Williams doesn't have anyone to mentor him. Cissoko...I feel for him.
- Not sure yet. If I was on staff myself (ha!) I could tell, but then I wouldn't be able to tell you. Man, that was helpful, eh?
- No, no, no. This is the real problem. This system is new to everyone EXCEPT Greg Robinson. He gets to decide not only the scheme, but also how he wants individual techniques taught. Maybe some of them are different than before. This means not only do the players have to learn new techniques, but the coaches have to teach differently than they're used to, perhaps. Continuity and consistency...and that happens when the coaches are so used to it they can coach it in their sleep and, furthermore, the older players can mentor the younger ones.
So, Iowa has 4.5/5 and we have 2/4 and IDK on the fifth (#2). It should come as absolutely no surprise that Iowa is better on defense.
If this defensive staff is still together in 3 years and Iowa is still more successful on defense (assuming they'll have the same staff) then I think it's safe to say that some of the assistants aren't cutting the mustard, b/c I'm pretty confident we'll have better players and will have rounded out the roster; i.e., we'll have quality players of varying experience at all positions.
As for this year, well, maybe we'll have an average defense by the end of the year.
I predict us to lose to MSU, get thumped at Iowa (they're quite adept at defending the spread), lose a close one to Penn State, and then maddeningly lose to Illinois (a la the basketball team at Iowa last season) but get the rest, including at Wisconsin and then, finally, over the Buckeyes. We end the season on a high note with a win over a name brand SEC team in the Outback bowl and finish 9-4.
Thanks, Steve. Even though there are some painful losses in your scenario, I will sign up for it right now. I have a few questions for you:
- You seem comfortable with GERG's knowledge and scheme, which puts me at ease. I assume you were less comfortable with what Shafer was doing?
- Why don't we give more help to our weak corner? How come that corner always seems to be out there by himself against Floyd or Doss?
- How do you explain that our highly-rated LB recruits who we so desperately need - Demens and Fitz - are still not very good in year two? Did we just strike out on both? Is it too early to tell?
- Why has the tackling fallen off so sharply from week 1? Competition? Habits? I was blown away by the crispness of our tackling early and not so much lately.
Note: The data is from Rivals; I recognize that they have some different class (fresh, soph, etc.) info than I expected on some players, but for consistency, I used their data as published.
I am no Steve Sharik or gsimms, but after watching Iowa play defense Saturday night, I have to report back to Houston that there is a problem, and it’s not just our players. I just don’t buy Brian’s comment in his “Soaring” post that “Michigan's recruiting was wildly deficient in more than one area and will be an anchor going forward.” We may lack depth, but the guys on the front lines are supposed to be studs. Individually, many look like studs – Graham and Warren and Martin and Roh and even Brown this year – but put them together and Indiana shreds us.
Iowa's defense is better than ours. A lot better. This doesn't surprise anyone reading this, but the point I wish to make is not that they are better, but how in the name of Shiva the Destroyer is such a thing possible?
Let's look at the two defenses:
The Iowa defense is younger than ours overall and features a less-experienced secondary that averages 5.3 for a Rivals Rating, or a middle range two-star. Brian says about Michigan, “There is exactly one junior and no seniors at both safety and cornerback.” Iowa has less experience. Yet my gut tells me – with absolute certainty – Darryl Clark will have a far better day against our secondary. Who wants to take me up on that bet?
In general, their players are more lowly rated at every position (possible exception of one LB), often significantly so, with players converted from the offensive side of the ball (a TE turned DL) and one playing out of position.
Now one of two things is true.
- All our studs coming out of high school were overrated and we can say things like Cissoko isn’t good and Van Bergen isn’t good and our LBs aren’t good with a straight face and a shrug towards our bad evaluation of talent over two coaches, or
- Our coaching/scheme is flawed. The front line talent is there (no depth, I know), but they either haven’t been developed or the system hurts their performance.
Occam’s Razor makes it difficult to accept that our stud HS talent was pretty much collectively overrated, and Iowa’s meh HS talent was pretty much vastly underrated. Ferentz would have given a kidney to have Cissoko or Warren or Graham or Brown or Mouton or Martin. He doesn’t have enough organs to bargain with the devil to get those types of players with mega-hype coming out of HS, yet he easily is fielding a better defense that probably would have consumed Indiana whole without any sauce.
As for the “new system” argument – that switching from Shafer to Robinson has resulted in our guys being at the start of a new learning curve – I accept some of that, but not all. Now, I will defer to Sharik or gsimms to tell me whether a new system can transform studs into non-studs, but it would seem to me that stopping Eastern in the first half or stopping Indiana at all would frequently be possible with raw stud talent playing by instinct.
Please understand that I am not traditionally negative, and that I am really seeking an answer from people who know more about football than I do. Is our system/defensive coordinator sound? Are most of our players overrated? Would Iowa's starters on defense playing for Michigan and GERG be playing at the same high level? Or would Brian be observing that an unrated player (a walk-on, I assume) was playing in the secondary?