Thoughts on a Saturday in Iowa

Thoughts on a Saturday in Iowa

Submitted by bklein09 on October 12th, 2009 at 1:32 AM
I probably should have posted this earlier than now to maintain relevance, but after the drive last night, arriving home at 530am, sleeping until 2pm, and the time it took to recover emotionally and physically, here we are. Better late than never. 

Yesterday was my first time in Iowa City, and now that I have been to 6 of the 11 Big Ten stadiums (and also Notre Dame) for Michigan games, I thought I would throw out my thoughts from the experience, including some comparisons and game observations. 

Note: My rankings below are based purely on my opinion and obviously influenced by what my experiences were at each individual campus. Also, in some instances it was very hard to separate 2 or 3 schools. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I don't want this post to piss anyone off.

University of Iowa Campus:
I don't know about you guys, but I love college campuses. Every time I get a chance to visit a school, I make a point to get a feel for the campus. I am obviously biased, but the University of Michigan has the best campus I have ever been to (which is a lot more than the the seven mentioned above). Ann Arbor is the perfect size college town, and the campus itself seamlessly blends right into it. My view on Iowa's campus is that it was very nice, but mostly unspectacular. The town of Iowa City really is in the middle of nowhere, with Cedar Rapids being the biggest thing nearby. And all of the stereotypical jokes about corn, tractors, etc that are associated with Iowa are partially true from what I saw. The campus itself was pretty nice with a lot of the brick and stone buildings that I like and a riverside location. Their Union has nothing on Michigan's but thats the case almost everywhere. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I been: Michigan, Wisconsin, ND, Iowa, OSU, Northwestern, MSU.

Pre-game Atmosphere / Tailgating Scene
I've got to be pretty honest here and say that considering it was a night game with Iowa being ranked so high, I was a little disappointed with this part of the Iowa experience. Sure there were a ton of people, with a large number of parking areas that were completely packed, but other than that I felt it was business as usual. Maybe I was expecting too much, but to me it seemed like it easily could have been just an average day game from what I observed. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been: Wisconsin, OSU, MSU, Iowa, Michigan, ND, Northwestern.

Game Atmosphere
Kinnick Stadium has a reputation for being one of the tougher places to play in the Big Ten, and again I have to say that I was a little disappointed considering where my expectations were. The "blackout" was excellent. The student section was there early, and they were loud. And the stadium itself is aesthetically very nice, if not for it being fairly small. Don't get me wrong, the place got LOUD at times, especially early. But as the game wore on, the crowd really only got up at obviously important moments. I am sure the freezing temperatures and other things played a role in this. But overall, OSU and even Wisconsin seemed to more consistently loud. And I was sitting in the 6th row from the field, just opposite the student section. One thing I will say about Kinnick is that the crowd is extremely close to the players. In the endzone nearest me, the people in the front row seats actually had their feet on the playing surface. Courtside baby! Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been: OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, ND, MSU, Northwestern.
EDIT: One thing I left out was how terrible the loud-speaker music and other jumbotron things were. Absolutely terrible. At one point on the jumbotron, there was a cartoon video of four pick-up trucks racing that obviously ended with the black Iowa one winning. A promotion for corn growers or something like that. Also -1000 for the Iowa band playing the Monday Night Football song (not "Are You Ready for Some Football" but the other one). Thinking of this stuff just dropped Iowa down one spot on my list. 

Iowa Fans (Treatment of Opposing Fans)
Not sure how many of you are interested in this portion of my post, but I have to say that Iowa fans were definitely some of the more hospitable I have come in contact with. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting ribbed by opposing fans at away games, but some places definitely go too far on occasion (cough OSU cough). We had very little profanity thrown our way, and even the post-game trash talk was minimal. One issue I do have was the running the field thing that I know has already been brought up on this blog. Even the fans around me seemed to be celebrating the win as though they had just won the Big Ten. I just don't understand being that excited when your number 12 ranked team barely escapes at home against an unranked team that is extremely inexperienced. If the roles had been reversed, I would have let out a big WHEW and went back to my apartment feeling very lucky to still be undefeated. That was not the reaction I saw from Iowa fans. Overall ranking amongst Big Ten + ND places I've been (I'm leaving out Michigan here because I have never been to the Big House as an opposing fan obviously): Iowa, Northwestern, ND, Wisconsin, MSU, OSU.

Game Observations
I'm not going to go into too much detail here, but despite the loss I am very encouraged about what I saw last night. In the moments after the game ended, part of me was very happy because the team played pretty well when they weren't making a monumental mistake. The other part of me was extremely disappointed because if we had not made as many monumental mistakes we would have won that game, sliding back into the top 20 and making a January bowl seem very likely. 

For the first time since the Western Michigan game, I found myself really liking the way our defense looked at points in the game. Sure they allowed 30 points, but the offense gave them a short field at least twice and the TD that came after the 3rd and 24 conversion is credited to the coaches IMO (from my vantage point it looked like we went into three-man-rush death mode, but correct me if I am wrong). 

Offensively, we definitely struggled at points. But our ability to consistently line up and push Iowa off the ball with the running game was what really got me excited. I also enjoyed being re-reminded of how important Brandon Minor is to our team. Watching the physicality of his running from the 6th row was incredible. I hope he can somehow stay healthy for the next 6 games. 

Overall, a loss is still a loss. But going forward I feel really good about the rest of the season and the future. I think it's going to be a tough battle to make it to 7+ wins, but I think we can do it based on what I saw in Iowa City. For the first time this year, I feel that PSU and OSU are definitely winnable games. Hope some of this was helpful!

It's not that bad

It's not that bad

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on October 11th, 2009 at 12:08 AM
The board is about to explode with frustration, but let's keep it real.  It was a road game, at night, against an undefeated opponent.  Yes there're a lot of things to be frustrated over, but there are also a lot of things to be happy about.  Let's try to keep it balanced and keep some perspective. 
  1.  Denard?!? Why? It was "Tate Time"!  Why wasn't Tate in the game during Tate Time?  Because he was playing like crap on the previous drives he had.  Because RR is looking at the longview and has to teach his Freshman QB's to do it the right way.  Because he threw an interception in OT last week.  Who's to say he wouldn't have done exactly the same thing Denard did?  If Tate had been in and thrown a game killing INT two weeks in a row, the same people on here screaming for tate now would have been screaming for denard.  Also Denard had just led a successful TD drive under pressure.  (personally I was worried we would run out of time, more than we would throw an INT)
  2. OMG TURNOVERS!!  Yeah, that kind of sucked.  But Iowa is actually really good at forcing turnovers, so it's not that unexpected.  Instead of freaking out about the turnovers, realize that even being -4, we still managed to stay within 2 points of a pretty darn good team.  Yes it's frustrating, but it also shows that our players have good resilience to come back from those kind of emotional swings.  Last year we woulda folded like superman on laundry day.  We're only one year removed from a 3-9 year, you can't expect us to be world beaters just yet.  We're young, We're learning, and we're going to get better.
  3. Why does the O-Line suck??? Uhm, no.  No.  It just played an awesome game against a pretty awesome D-line.  Iowa's D-line was twisting and stunting all night, and the line gave our QB's enough time to win. 
  4. Why can't we cover the TE? That guy meowmeowyaki, (or whatever his name is) is an all Big Ten guy. On his first TD he made an awesome fake block and held it for a long time before leaking out.  He gave a great false key to our D guy who was in man coverage.  It was a brilliantly designed play.  Almost like a screen.  And he's been out of the lineup for a few games, so the team didn't get to study much recent film on him.  He also catches like 10 balls a game or something ridiculous like that.  On his second TD, he was the TE on the other side of the formation where they had been running for like 15 straight plays.  we had to sell out on the run just to stop the bleeding.  He came all the way across on the bootleg and just got lost.  It happens.  If we could run to one side for 15 straight plays and then do playaction off of that, it would be deadly too.  In fact it was back in the days of Griese to Tuman.
Okay?  So can we all relax a little?  Here's some things to be happy about.

  1. Zoltan is still awesome.  I'd say he won his matchup of All-American punters tonight.  He was booming 60 yarders all night.  I was afraid he was going to out kick the coverage, but we managed to get the tackles.
  2. Brandom Graham!  I think he had 3 sacks and was a beast in most other respects.  He had two bad plays (roughing the kicker, and missing stanzi on a rollout) but neither one of them had an impact on the game. (because of mathews fumble, and the D stopped stanzi short of the 1st down anyway)
  3. Troy!  Seemed to be an upgrade at the corner position. (but yeah, mike williams had a couple of breakdowns) 
  4. Brandon Minor.  I don't think he's really healthy yet, but he's a workhorse.  He basically carried the whole team on his 2nd TD drive.  
  5. Odoms.  Had one drop but is turning into an excellent possession receiver.
  6. O-line.  It's coming together.  There was a time when we kept running to the right and blowing people off the ball.  That was a nice drive. And we scored 3 rushing touchdowns against a team that hadn't given up a single one in 33 FRICKEN quarters. 
  7. GERG!  Continues to deliver even though he only has patchwork talent.  Let's see what he can do with a couple more recruiting classes.  
  8. Mouton played MUCH better this week.
  9. Donovan!  Yeah, he's awesome.
Feel free to add your own things to be happy about.



Freezing Point of Dilithium?

Freezing Point of Dilithium?

Submitted by Shalom Lansky on October 10th, 2009 at 7:20 PM

Does anybody know the freezing point of Dilithium? 19 degrees Kelvin?

EDIT: Night games, extra time for fans to get loopy as well.

Of note, I spoke to a Florida fan today who refused to believe that ABC would show the Michigan game at the same time Florida plays LSU. He insisted the Michigan game must be a day or game, or if played at night, have a kickoff of 9 or 10, because of course the world shuts down for the SEC and no one would dare play let alone broadcast football at the same time SEC teams play. SEC fans are unaware of anything outside the conference. Such is life in SEC land.

Iowa victory Muppet-worthy?

Iowa victory Muppet-worthy?

Submitted by pdxblue on October 9th, 2009 at 8:51 PM

So, my 12 year-old son enjoys the Muppet victories as much as I do. he asked me today, "Would an Iowa victory get Muppets?" My response - I don't know. They are clearly not a blood rival, but they are ranked #12 and may well be the best ream we've played against so far. So, we decided to ask the MGoBlog community:

Would a road victory at #12 Iowa be Muppet-worthy? Discuss.

Iowa preview- know your enemy and bars

Iowa preview- know your enemy and bars

Submitted by iawolve on October 5th, 2009 at 2:07 PM

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).

 

Intangibles

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.

 

Offense

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.

 

Defense

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.

 

Kinnick

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.

 

Iowa City

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. 

Posting for an IOWA fan (BrewHawk)

Posting for an IOWA fan (BrewHawk)

Submitted by DesHow21 on October 5th, 2009 at 10:44 AM
Posting some good info from an IOWA fan (BrewHawk) who doesnt have enough points to post yet:
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.

More HTML wizardry (Thanks to ShockFX): Link to original post here

Received my tickets to the Iowa and Illinois games

Received my tickets to the Iowa and Illinois games

Submitted by Wolverine In Iowa on October 2nd, 2009 at 10:42 AM
I am the proud owner of two tickets to the Iowa game October 10 at Iowa City, courtesy of a guy I know whose parents are in the Kinnick Society (apparently a high-powered booster organization for Iowa athletics).  My fiancee (who's a Hawkeye fan) and I have seats in section 127, row 59, which is about the 45-yard line, press box side.  I have been to two games at Kinnick so far:  Iowa versus Syracuse and Iowa versus Florida International or Atlantic (can't recall which).  Both games were blow-outs in Iowa's favor, and so I've yet to see an unhappy Hawkeye crowd.  I presume that since the Michigan game is a night game, that there will be plenty of alcohol-fueled Michigan haters ready to pick on me.  Let's hope for an undefeated Wolverine team heading into Iowa City next week.

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?