It was a weekend full of Hawkeye goodness…even if the Hawkeyes didn’t bring their ‘A’ game to Ames, they still won by bashing the Cyclones at the line of scrimmage and that was a pretty thing. Here are some things you might have missed from the weekend with some additional commentary.
THE WEISMAN PACE: Mark Weisman has 85 carries in three games. 85! Marc Morehouse of The Gazette reminded us that Shonn Greene had 78 carries through Iowa’s first FOUR games back in 2008, en route to over 1,800 yards that season and the Doak Walker award. Weisman is #1 in the nation in carries and #2 is 10 carries behind him. Weisman ranks 7th in yards rushing per game with nearly 142 per contest. His hards come the hard way and not from long runs that pad the stats. Weisman is like a jackhammer that just will not stop. That said, he’s not unbreakable. While he is running a bit lower to the ground this year, opponents are diving at his lower body in the hopes to bring down the Juggernaut and still live to tell about it. Folks on the message boards asked if he can keep this pace up. The easy answer is no, he’s not going to be able to keep this pace up. He’s gonna need a breather now and again just for his own well being and so that he’s ready to pound later in the year. Iowa’s home game against Western Michigan this weekend would seem like a good time for some others to get more totes. It’s a home game against an opponent Iowa should beat. Hopefully Kirk Ferentz will take the training wheels off of Leshun Daniels in this game because Iowa is going to need his power later in the year in the event Weisman goes down. Morehouse talks about this topic as well at this link as well as this one.
BEEN CAUGHT STEALING: Iowa State tried to steal one out on the field and little did Iowa know that some losers were actually stealing stuff out of their lockers in the second half of the game. The Iowa coaches were not immune to the thievery:
Sorry to anyone that tried to call/text me last night w/o a response, but my phone came up missing from the ISU locker room after the game
— LeVar Woods (@LeVarWoods) September 15, 2013
There’s no way that ISU officials condone this type of behavior, so we’re not gonna go there even though some on twitter and the message boards are poking sticks.
How does this happen? Seriously, how is there no security guarding the door or how is this door not locked? That’s the question I would have for Iowa State; what are your security protocols? Can people just walk into the athletic center there and go into the locker rooms unseen or unquestioned? I’m sure they’ll revisit their procedures and protocols.
Folks are asking me if I have changed my mind related to my preseason prediction of 6-6 for Iowa, based on what we have seen so far.
1. Jake Rudock is better than I expected him to be. He is more confident in the pocket, he has a presence about him that you can’t coach; you either have it or you don’t and he has it. His arm is strong enough for what Iowa is going to ask him to do (you can debate whether that is enough) and he is making good decisions. I really like him and I think Iowa’s ceiling may be a bit higher because of it.
2. The offensive line is gaining confidence and the interior guys are getting a chance to develop before things get a lot tougher here in two weeks. They have helped pave the way for over 200 yards rushing for the last three games, the first such streak for Iowa since 2002. Given the type of running back Mark Weisman is, this says as much about the holes they are opening as it does the running back.
3. The defensive line has looked more like what we think an Iowa defensive line should look like, but it’s not going to be an elite group. They don’t have to be an elite group and their improving.
4. The secondary is more challenged than I thought but Iowa is also blitzing a lot more than they have in the past. The Hawks need more position discipline on the back end and some better tackling, but when you blitz you are going to be in man to man coverage more than when you don’t blitz. We’ll see if they stay on the blitz train. With the lack of pass rushing abilities from the front four, Iowa may have to keep the blitz up.
I’m not ready to go for anything more than 6-6 just yet. While I thought the Iowa State game would be a loss, I thought they’d beat Northern Illinois. So Iowa is at 2-1 after three games, which is where I had them after three games. I also had Iowa winning their next three games against Western Michigan, at Minnesota and home against Michigan State.
The Spartans are not what I thought they’d be, but we’ll see if they are on to something at quarterback. Their defense is still lights out, perhaps better than I expected. Minnesota has shown competence thus far, and for them that is a good thing. Iowa has no business losing to Western Michigan.
If Iowa can get to 5-1 at the midway point, then I’d raise my ceiling because I think Purdue is not a good team. It will be scratch and claw in the second half with Iowa a likely underdog in every game with the exception of the Purdue game, and they may be an underdog there. But other than Ohio State, I think every game is winnable…then again, every one of Iowa’s eight Big Ten games is also a losable game.
Iowa is 2-1. Their two wins have come against bad teams. As I said on Saturday night, I am not trying to troll ISU fans here, but this year’s Cyclones team is not good. In my opinion, I haven’t seen a team that challenged in the trenches from Iowa State since before ISU snapped the 15-year Iowa winning streak in the CyHawk series…so at least since 1997. That might be it, as Iowa scored over 60-points on ISU that day in Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State plays at Tulsa and does play Kansas; those are the only two possible wins I see on their schedule.
Still, this Iowa program needs the confidence that can come from imposing your will on an opponent. They need to take the next step this week and dominate Western Michigan and also put more points on the board…finish drives, not drop passes (they have 10 this year so far) and leave no doubt. Give the fans a breather before the meat grinder that is ahead as it could be seven white knuckle affairs for Iowa in the Big Ten (the game at Ohio State is a rake your lawn Saturday).
In case you missed it, here was Kirk after the game, courtesy of Rob Howe of @HawkeyeInsider