The Matchups: Iowa v Wisconsin

The Badgers come to Kinnick Saturday to battle the Hawkeyes.  Wisconsin enters the game coming off an upset of previously #1 ranked Ohio State in Camp Randall and look to carry that momentum into Iowa City.  This series has been hotly contested over the years (42-41-1 in Iowa’s) favor and will be put on hold for two seasons due to the realignment of the Big Ten.  Former Hawkeye player and coach Brett Bielema is 2 and 2 against his former school but has lost the last two.  Bielema has assembled a solid coaching staff and these games tend to be nail-biters.

Offensively Wisconsin can be very multiple formationally.  Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst runs a very diverse power scheme, and generally gives his players a chance to move the ball effectively with his alignments.  This season they are using a lot of single back with 3 tight ends with backup guard Bill Nagy wearing #89 and lining up as an on the line tight end.  They also run a lot of single back two tight end formations that should be familiar to Iowa fans-  balanced, twins, and two TEs on the strong side.  This formation features a lot of motion and sometimes features a covered tight end (Kendricks will be the H) and a WR in motion to either run an end around or threaten it to keep the DE home. They also have a two tight end bunch formation that is almost always a pitch to the strong side of the formation.   They also feature I, strong I and weak I formations.  Finally they will line up with three wide either under center or in Shotgun generally featuring a TE and slot to the wide side of the field.

Wisconsin is a power/ man blocking team.  They pull their lineman often and they are very effective with this style of play.  They run the ball 60% of the time and tend to favor the gaps between the LT/LG and the LG/C.  They will run the same plays regardless of which tailback are in.  I haven’t seen a lot of the counter that was so effective early vs. the Hawks last season but I am sure it will be featured in this game.  They are similar to Iowa in that they basically line up and show what they are going to run- they just expect to block you and usually they do.

Their passing game is mostly play action based.  They do not attack deep downfield often and the QB Tolzien is a patient passer who rarely forces a ball into coverage.  Their primary targets in the passing game are the TE #84 Lance Kendricks and WR #1 Nick Toon.  Tolzien reads defenses well and generally gets rid of the ball by the time he has completed his drop.  This isn’t a dynamic attack and is not a team that is designed to score quickly or come from behind.

The Badgers offensive line is deserving of most of the praise it receives.  LT #68 Gabe Carimi and LG #74 John Moffitt are big and  like to maul people in the run game.  The entire line is very assignment sound and they generally create a good push in the running game.  In pass protection they excel at selling play action, but they can struggle with blitzes and both tackles can be beaten on the perimeter.  They use a lot of max protect often running three man routes, and they are not a good screen team.  The line is not the most athletic or agile group that Iowa will face, they want to wear you down by leaning on you over and over for five to six yards a pop in the running game.  They can do that against most of the units they face.

Defensively Coordinator Dave Doeren runs a base 4-3. They play both safeties close to the LOS and use a lot of zone cover 3. They are also a very aggressive blitzing team and will blitz with both man and zone concepts.  They lost their second best playmaker and best linebacker Chris Borland for the season, but #9 Blake Sorensen has done a nice job of stepping in at SLB. #99  J.J. Watt is a very good defensive end and has to be accounted for on every snap.  He is very good vs. the boot and can set the edge vs. the run.  Wisconsin’s secondary is only average and are probably better in run support than pass coverage.  #26 Antonio Fenelus has stepped up his game and is on his way to becoming a top corner in the league.

On third and longs this team will line up in either a Nickel package with four down lineman or a Dime featuring three DL, two LBs, and six DBs.  They blitz almost 80% of the time and get everyone involved in their blitz packages.  They struggle to create pressure with just their down lineman so they tend to be and aggressive defense on any passing down.

Wisconsin’s special teams feature a very solid Kicker- #18 Phillip Welch who is 8-10 on the season with a long of 49- his career long is 57.  He also has a very good leg for the Kick-off team providing both hang time and distance.  This unit has had its struggles (2 TDs returned) but seemed to rebound versus Ohio State last week.  #98 Brad Nortman is a solid punter averaging 43.0 yards on 23 attempts with only 2 touchbacks.  However this unit has struggled this season also (74 yard TD vs. MSU) but again they seemed to button it up versus Ohio State.  They mhave allowed only 6 returns on the season.  #85 David Gilreath is a very dangerous returner as both a punt and kick returner.  He is generally the single returner with starting Fullback #34 Bradie Ewing leading the way for him.  He opened the game last week with a KR for a TD and has good vision, excellent speed and the ability to make tacklers miss.  If he is hurt backup TB #20 James White generally takes over the KR duties and #4 WR Jared Abbrederis has been returning punts.

And now the match ups.

94 Adrian Clayborn RDE 6’4 285 SR, 91 Broderick Binns LDE 6’2 261 JR/ 46 Christian Ballard LDE 6’5 297 SR, and 58 Lebron Daniel DE 6’2 250 JR vs. 68 Gabe Carimi LT  6’7 327 SR and 58 Ricky Wagner RT 6’6 313 SO:  Carimi is very good offensive lineman.  He is touted as a first round draft pick and he may be but I doubt he sticks at Left Tackle in the pros.  Carimi is a mauler; he plays very physically in the run phase of the game.  He fires off the ball well, can reach the DT when down-blocking or away from the play-side, and is fairly athletic for his size.  He looks comfortable on the move when asked to pull or hit the 2nd level.  He has a quick set in PP but can struggle at times with a second move or a speed rush to the edge.  He can be set up by defenders.

Wagner has taken over for Josh Oglesby who is battling a knee.  Wagner looks very agile for his size and may be the best natural pass protector of the starters.  He isn’t extremely physical and can be beaten off the ball by DEs and pushed back in the run game.  He is very good at the 2nd level.  He may hold onto the job for good.

The matchup of Clayborn and Carimi will be one NFL scouts will be drooling over.  Clayborn is playing very well this season despite not producing eye popping stats- drawing double and triple teams versus most teams.  Wisconsin will probably try to block him one on one.  Binns played his contain responsibilities very, very well last week.  This is the type of game where he needs to play physical and may lose time to the combo of Daniels and Ballard both better run defenders. Both Binns and Ballard have a speed and experience edge on Wagner.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- some of this will depend on the score of the game but if Iowa can force Wisconsin into being a one dimensional team either offensively or by taking away the run, one of these guys will have a multi- sack game and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was Clayborn.  Pressuring Tolzien and forcing him off his spot can fluster him into bad throws and poor decisions.  I expect this to happen.

46 Christian Ballard DT 6’5 297 SR/ 93 Mike Daniels DT 6’1 275 JR and 95 Karl Klug DT 6’4 270 SR vs. 74 John Moffitt LG 6’5 323 SR, 66 Peter Konz C 6’5 312 SO, and RG Kevin Zeitler 6’4 312 JR:  Moffitt is another Sunday player.  He is a very good fit for this scheme as he is a big, physical run blocker.  He has very nifty feet, does extremely well at the 2nd level for his size, consistently drives DTs backwards, and is an excellent pulling guard.  He can struggle with a quick DT in PP and their interior in general has some blitz pick up issues, but he is excellent as picking up stunts. Klug vs. Moffitt will be another intriguing matchup for scouts and fans.

Konz is a very good athlete for his size, consistently wins versus both DTs and LBs and is very good at the 2nd level.  He shows very good agility and a great burst for his position, he is very good as a pulling lineman.  He can struggle picking up blitzers in PP, but generally anchors well against D-lineman.

Zeitler isn’t as dominant as his interior line-mates.  He is at his best down-blocking or drive-blocking.  He isn’t as agile as Konz or Moffitt and doesn’t always win when he pulls.  He struggled in PP some versus Jerel Worthy of MSU and may struggle vs. both Ballard and Daniels if left with them one on one.

Klug has been playing fairly well this season but struggled at times vs. Michigan.  Schilling is a very good lineman and he doesn’t get much of a breather here, although this scheme is much more straight forward and he excels at reading plays and shooting gaps.  Ballard has been playing excellent and has made the transition from DE to DT to both seamlessly.  Daniels has been a revelation this year and continued his strong play last week, although he suffered an injury late in the game.  He is supposed to be a full go and I am sure Hawks will need him.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- I like the combo of Moffitt and Konz, but I really like the idea of Ballard and Daniels vs the right side of this Wisconsin line.  I basically think they will be able to funnel everything left or at least the two DL will tie up the interior 3 for Wisconsin leaving Iowa’s LBs free to make plays vs. the run.  In the pass game this matchup is a win for the Hawks.

28 Shaun Prater LCB 5’11 180 JR and 18 Micah Hyde RCB 6’1 185 SO vs. 1 Nick Toon 6’3 211 JR, 6 Isaac Anderson 5’10 175 SR, 85 David Gilreath 5’11 169 SR, and 4 Jared Abbrederis 6’2 185 FR WRs:  Toon is the go to guy on the outside.  He runs clean routes and uses his frame well to win matchups vs. defensive backs.  They scheme to get him the ball- running little smoke or bubble screens for him in the slot, and he is solid after the catch.  He is not a burner but can high point the ball and adjust to make athletic catches on fade style routes.  He has dropped some easy catches this season.  He is a decent blocker.

Anderson plays much bigger than his size and is a very physical receiver.  He runs very good routes and catches almost anything he can reach.  He is a very physical blocker and can hold his own vs. LBs on edge running plays.

Gilreath is probably the Badgers only legit deep and explosive receiver.  He has the speed to run past DBs and the shiftiness to turn a short catch into a big play.  He has really turned it on this season after being somewhat inconsistent so far in his career.  He is more than just a returner-  he will run reverses and catch bubble screens and make plays with the ball in his hands.

Abbrederis is another possession type receiver.  He runs good routes and seems to have  a solid concept of how defenses are covering plays.  He, too, is a solid run blocker.  His play has tailed off as Gilreath has become more healthy and the defenses the Badgers have played have improved.

Prater is playing very good football.  He was excellent in run support last week and probably made one mistake- on a play he should have had a pick he allowed a long completion near the goal.  He reads routes as well as any Iowa corner in recent memory and is willing to stick his neck out to make a play.  His play on special teams has been outstanding and gone a long way towards shoring up the Kick-off unit.  Hyde was up and down again vs. Michigan.  He had a very nice interception, but jumped a route when he had deep responsibilities allowing another long play to his side.  He has been unfairly singled out for some of the passes that were completed to his side late in the game as it appears as if the Hawks were basically playing prevent after they went up 35-14.

Spud’s Spin: Push- I think that either one of these units could be the key to the game but it won’t likely show up in the box score.  How Iowa’s corners perform in run support and how aggressive they play versus the Badgers offensive scheme will be an indicator of who is winning this game.  It is possible for one of Iowa’s corners to cause a turnover, but Tolzien is pretty safe with the ball.  How quickly Prater and Hyde recognize run and their ability to impact Wisconsin’s running game will be a key for Iowa’s defensive success.

45 Tyler Nielsen LEO 6’4 235 JR vs. 84 Lance Kendricks TE SR: Kendricks is the next in a seemingly long line of Badger tight ends who is destined for the NFL.  Following more in the steps of Boilermaker Dustin Keller, Kendricks is a receiver first.  He is excellent at getting his release and has very good speed for the position.  He runs excellent routes and really does a nice job of setting up defenders to create separation.  He isn’t the most physical blocker but he usually gets the job done.  He can line up anywhere for them and even runs the ball on a TE end around.

Nielsen rarely gets to line up over a tight end anymore and this will be another matchup worth watching.  Athletically Nielsen should be Kendricks match, and he could dominate him in the run phase.  When he is lined up over a slot it is imperative that he prevents big plays from a horizontal pass, and he must also dominate a WR assigned to blocking him in the run phase.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Wisconsin- I think Nielsen is playing at a high level and is capable of winning this matchup physically but Kendricks has seen the field a lot over the last 2 ½ seasons.  I give the experience and savvy nod to Kendricks here.

42 Jeremiha Hunter WILL 6’2 235 SR vs. 34 Bradie Ewing FB 6’0 230 JR, 48 Jacob Pedersen 6’4 238 FR, 82 Jake Byrne 6’4 257 JR, and *89 Bill Nagy 6’3 318 SR TEs:  Ewing is a decent run blocker.  He isn’t the most punishing fullback that Iowa will see this season but he generally finds his guy and sticks to him.  He isn’t often utilized in the passing game and when he is he is an outlet on play- action.

Pedersen is blossoming into a very good receiving tight end.  He runs clean routes and finds soft spots in zone coverage.  He has good speed and can outrun many linebackers on crossing routes.  He isn’t a physical blocker and struggles when asked to lead in the hole.  He is at his best when on the move or sealing the backside where he can cut a defender low.

Byrne might as well be another offensive lineman.  Most of the time he is on the field he is covered and ineligible anyway.  He is a very effective blocker- he can block most DEs one on one in either phase.  He can be physical and can push linebackers either downfield or out of the play.

Nagy is a lineman who lines up as a TE in their three TE sets.  He is an excellent run blocker and I haven’t seen a pass out of that set yet.  He also started at guard earlier this season when Zeitler was out for an injury and played well.  He is probably Moffitt and Zeitler’s backup at the guard position.

Hunter is coming off arguably his best performance as a Hawkeye.  This is the type of offense he thrives against and he can be a difference maker in this game.  Iowa’s linebacking corps combined for 23 stops last season and I would expect that number to be around the same on Saturday.  Hunter reads the run extremely well and gets through traffic as well as any Ferentz era linebacker.  He should be plenty busy.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- I don’t think any of these guys are enough of a threat in the passing game to neutralize Hunter’s run stopping ability.  I also think that Hunter has improved his aggressiveness in pass coverage the last two games and he is probably the most fundamental tackler on the team.

33 Jeff Tarpinian MIKE 6’3 238 SR/ 48 Troy Johnson 6’2 235 vs. 32 John Clay 6’1 248 JR, 20 James White 5’11 195, and 28 Montee Ball 5’11 234 TBs:  Clay is a huge back reminiscent of Nick Bell.  He has very good feet for his size and can cut at full speed.  He gets up to full speed quickly and is a load to bring down.  He has very good vision, sets up and uses blocks very well, and he had good speed for his size.  Clay is not really a factor in the passing game although he had 3 catches vs. the Hawks last season.

White may be the best back on the roster.  He has very good vision for such a young player, he sets up defenders and has the speed to beat them to the edge.  His greatest gift is by far his balance, though, he doesn’t need to overpower people he just seems to bounce off of tackles and is very difficult to get off his feet.  He has excellent acceleration, agility and long speed.  He runs more powerfully than you would expect given his size and frame.  He is also a good receiver and is a decent pass protector.

Ball seems to be losing his carries to White this season although he has 46 for the season.  He hasn’t seen much of the field in the last two games.  He is a physical back who can catch the ball, block well- excellent at blitz pick up, and he has very good vision and patience.  He is a good fit for this scheme and will make a nice tandem with White when Clay leaves.

It seems unlikely that Tarp will be back this week, so Johnson will have to man the Mike spot again.  I thought he played very well last weekend, he just misses that extra gear that Tarp brings in pass coverage.  Johnson may be a better run defender and played that phase very well versus Michigan.  Morris is likely the 2nd option in case of injury this week.  I love his potential but I am willing to wait for it.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Wisconsin- Johnson is a good story and is capable of making plays in this game but Wisconsin  has too many talented options to give the edge to Iowa here, even if Angerer suited up.  Johnson needs to tackle extremely well and I expect the D-line to keep him relatively free.  He must make the most of those opportunities and find and wrap up the ball carrier.

9 Tyler Sash SS 6’1 210 JR and 30 Brett Greenwood FS 6’0 200 SR vs. 16 Scott Tolzien QB  6’3 208 SR: Tolzien is a heady player who gets the most out of his talent.  He really sells play action well, and almost always finds the open receiver.  He has excellent footwork as a passer and is mobile enough to escape a single rusher.  He is very, very accurate inside of 20 yards.  He has a nice touch on his passes and  almost always makes a good safe choice. He can anticipate a throw and can attack the entire field.  He struggles with arm strength a bit, and has kind of a funky release.  He really has to wind up to put heat on his passes.  He doesn’t throw a great deep ball.

Sash and Greenwood haven’t had the chance to be as involved this season as they have in the pass.  Teams are making smarter decisions vs. Iowa’s scheme and getting the ball out quick.  Both could clean up their tackling but for the most part they are way, way above average tackling college safeties.  Sash has really been headhunting this season and should maybe dial it back a touch in this game and get the sure tackle, especially when White is the tailback.  I don’t expect to see these guys in the box often unless the Badgers do something formationally to demand it.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- Tolzien is a good QB when he has time to throw and generally makes very good decisions, but he struggles under pressure and is likely to face a lot of that on Saturday.  I also expect to see Sash and Greenwood play good, fundamental football Saturday.  This is the style of opponent where their filmwork and experience really shine through.  It is rare to fool these guys and I don’t see Wisconsin burning either one.

77 Riley Reiff LT 6’6 300 SO  and  Markus Zusevics RT 6’5 295 JR vs. 99 J.J. Watt 6’6 285STR DE JR, 93 Louis Nzegwu 6’4 247 WK DE JR, and 11 David Gilbert 6’4 237 DE SO: Watt is a very good player.  He is very athletic for his size and is a relentless player who is involved in a ton of plays.  He fires off the snap well, uses his hands incredibly well, has good speed, is fairly agile, plays strong- sets the edge vs. the run and can bull rush tackles vs. pass.  He is a smart player- deflects a lot of passes when he can’t get to QB and reads boot action very well. Ohio State rarely ran to his side.  He is the only consistent pass rush threat on the team. He is generally lined up to the formations strength.

Nzegwu has a thin frame and struggles to set the edge vs. the run.  He seems to play high and gets blocked easily one on one by TEs.  As a pass rusher he seems to rely on speed and tends to favor an outside move regardless of which side he is on.  He is generally lined up away from a TE.

Gilbert looks to be the Nickel pass rusher as he is a bit undersized for now.  He comes in when they keep four down lineman in with five defensive backs kicking Watt to DT.  He has a quick first step, and a good closing burst when rushing the passer.  He looks competent on stunts and twists.

Reiff and Zusevics played very well vs. Michigan keying several big runs by Robinson and giving Stanzi plenty of time in the pocket.  This will be a better run defense that they will face Saturday but the pass defense isn’t much better.  Watt but the good news is that he lines up on either side and the Hawks can keep a TE in to help with him if needed.  So far the tackles have looked pretty solid in PP since the Arizona game.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- Watt is the best player in this bunch right now, but not by that much over Reiff, and Reiff and Zusevics are much better than Nzegwu.  Iowa should have success running to the weak side of their formation.  Wisconsin has some gaudy numbers stopping the run but they couldn’t stop MSU ever or Ohio State in the second half.  I think Iowa will limit Watt’s big plays.

63 Julian Vandervelde LG 6’3 300 SR, 53 James Ferentz C 6’2 275 SO, and 73 Adam Gettis RG 6’4 280 JR/ 76 Nolan MacMillan RG 6’6 295 R.FR vs. 91 Jordon Kohout 6’3 292 FR, 95 Patrick Butrym 6’4 295 JR, 96 Beau Allen 6’3 325, and 87 Ethan Hemer 6’6’ 281: Kohout is going to be a special player but he is up and down.  He plays hard all the time, but he can be gassed.  He has to win the snap to be effective, he has a really good motor, reads the play well, uses his hands well, and has good quickness.  He can be driven off the ball in the run game at times and struggles with double teams, he isn’t much of a pass rusher yet.

Butrym has a lot of hustle to his game.  He isn’t a great run defender but does a nice job of occupying blockers and freeing LBs to make plays.  He isn’t extremely agile and struggles to shed blocks.  He does have a nice spin move and is effective in stunts as a pass rusher.  He stays on the field for the pass packages.

Allen’s best attribute at this time is his size.  He is tough to move off the ball when he anchors well.  He is still finding his way and isn’t really quick or agile yet but has a ton of potential to be disruptive.  He seems to read plays well.

Hemer spells both Kohout and Butrym and played very well vs. Ohio State.  He seems to shed blockers very well and finds his way to the ball carrier. He hasn’t shown much as a pass rusher so far.

Vandervelde has played very well this season and I would say his chance of playing in the NFL is at least even with my chances of seeing him in the Des Moines Civic Center.  He has been very good in the run phase and excellent in PP since the last Arizona drive.  Ferentz has played very well in both phases and is doing a nice job with his line calls.  MacMillan and Gettis having been splitting reps.  I think that is by design and not a knock on MacMillan.  Gettis has been highly praised by the staff all spring and camp.  MacMillan is playing well enough to keep his job.  That is a good problem to have.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- this is a unit that Iowa could take advantage of in the run game.  They don’t provide a consistent pass rush allowing either guard to pay extra attention to J.J. Watt, and they struggle moving laterally vs. zone run teams letting the interior generate a push in the run game and creating cuts back lanes for Robinson.  Iowa should be able to move the ball up the middle in this game.

15 Derrell Johnson- Koulianos 6’1 200 SR, 7 Marvin McNutt 6’4 215 JR, 22 Colin Sandeman 6’1 200 SR, 6 Keenan Davis 6’3 215 SO, and 26 Paul Chaney 5’9 170 SR WRs vs. 26 Antonio Fenelus 5’9 190 JR, 29 Niles Brinkley 5’10 191 SR, and 10 Devin Smith 5’11 186 JR CBs:  Fenelus has been playing well this season.  He is a solid tackler and willing in run support.  He competes well for jump balls, looks comfortable in zone coverage and his back pedal and has the speed to play man coverage.  He can get caught peeking from time to time and be run past.  He is also aggressive enough to be burned on a double move it is set up by completions in front first.

Brinkley is more of a cover corner.  He isn’t as willing in run support and isn’t a physical tackler.  He generally gets the job done but looks annoyed to have to tackle a TB.  He struggles at times when one on one with a wide out in either man or zone and can be beaten on double moves.  He does have the hips to turn and run with most wide outs.  He also has the speed to recover from a bad step.  He reads routes well.  He is very aggressive and is looking to break up or intercept every pass.

Smith was a starter vs. Iowa last season but is only playing in Nickel or Dime packages this season.  He does have a pick vs. MSU and looks good covering slots.  I thought he was their best corner last year so I am surprised he isn’t starting.  He looks to be more comfortable in man than zone.

DJK has a chance to set career receptions mark in this game.  He needs 5 to tie and 6 to break it.  I think it is likely that it will happen.  He is playing very well this season and is threatening a couple of other records I thought were untouchable for him- the single season TD and career TD marks.  McNutt has struggled with drops on slant routes this season, but has made some amazing catches on balls away from him.  He needs to make the average play routine.  Sandeman is doing a nice job as a punt returner and as a run blocker but has become sort of an afterthought in the passing game after a hot start.  Davis has also played well so far this season seeing the field far more often than last year.  Chaney looks like he has regained all his speed.  He is a threat wherever he is lined up as defenses should be aware that when he is in the game it is likely a reverse.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa-  the Hawks have more depth and more talent at this position.  Iowa was very efficient last season versus Wisconsin, and they bring in a much better offense this year.  DJK had 8 catches for 113 yards last season and McNutt didn’t play.  Iowa was also without Chaney in this game and he was a larger part of our gameplan last season.  This is the same group of defensive backs versus an improved receiving corps.  Big advantage for Iowa.

82 Allen Reisner 6’3 248 SR and 39 Brad Herman 6’5 247 JR TEs and 36 Brett Morse FB 6’3 238 SR vs. 9 Blake Sorensen 6’1 227 SLB SR and 53 Mike Taylor 6’2 223 WLB:  Sorensen is a bit undersized to match up vs. tight ends and tackles.  He has to run around them and sometimes over-pursues or takes bad angles to make up for this.  He has the speed and agility to make plays to overcome this but a good back can cut inside of his angle.  He diagnoses plays very well and has the speed to recover very well vs. play- action.  He gets very good depth in his zone drops and looks very good vs. the pass.  He breaks down and tackles very well in space.  He has good speed and times blitzes well.

Taylor is incredibly fast of a LB.  He too is a bit undersized, but he is more physical and willing to take on and shed blockers.  He has an excellent closing burst and finishes plays extremely well, rarely misses a tackle, makes plays with blockers on his hip, and takes great angles to the ball.  He is a very good pass defender, although he is vulnerable to play-action.

Reisner’s outstanding season isn’t going completely unnoticed- he was named to the mid-season Mackey award watch list.  He has been a very good receiver but I am most impressed with his blocking.  He is owning people in the run game and is comfortable blocking most DEs one on one in the passing game.  He is a lock to play on Sundays barring injury.  Herman has been blocking at an extremely high level.  He has been forgotten in the passing game but hasn’t let it affect how he plays in the run phase.  That is outstanding and will lead to big things for him his senior year.  Morse missed last week but is supposed to be a go this one.  Rogers played well in his absence but isn’t quite the physical presence that Morse is as a lead blocker yet.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- if Borland was healthy I might give this to Wisconsin, but I just don’t see Sorensen being able to fight off the blocks to make enough plays at or behind the line of scrimmage to impact Iowa’s running game.  I also think Taylor will get frustrated and give up a big play in the passing game.  These three players for Iowa are steady and rarely miss an assignment and don’t get enough credit for the job they do.

32 Adam Robinson 5’9 205 SO and 38 Brad Rogers 5’10 220 R.FR/ 34 Marcus Coker 6’0 230 FR TBs vs. 15 Culmer St. Jean MLB SR:  St. Jean is a solid tackler, he reads plays well, is an effective blitzer- times it very well, and he seems to lead his teammates very well.  However he isn’t really speedy, struggles shedding blocks, takes bad angles to the ball, and struggles in pass coverage.  He really struggles to carry a TE up the seam.

Robinson continues to do everything well.  He is running with purpose, great vision and incredible balance.  He is a weapon in the passing game both as a receiver and a blocker.  He should be a candidate for All Big Ten.  Rogers played very well last week as the starting FB.  He did a nice job leading plays and had maybe only one missed assignment.  He looked good as an outlet in the passing game.  Coker did not play, but I expect to see him this weekened.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- St. Jean is a competent MLB but he is physically limited similar to Ezeh from Michigan, he struggles to make plays sideline to sideline.  If Morse is healthy I expect him to basically take St. Jean out of the game in the run phase and pass coverage isn’t his strength.  Robinson is playing very, very good football.  He deserves more praise than he gets, but the accolades will come after the season.

12 Ricky Stanzi QB 6’4 230 SR vs. 2 Jay Valai 5’9 200 SS SR and 7 Aaron  Henry 6’0 202 FS JR:  Valai is an excellent run defender. He is a solid tackler, takes good angles, and wants to play physical- looking to force fumbles and make big hits.  He isn’t the best pass defender and is very vulnerable to play action, he doesn’t have great speed, and can struggle to close on routes in front of him.

Henry looks like a star in the making.  He is a very physical player looking to lay people out and almost always making the tackle.  He is very aggressive in run support and has the speed to make up for a false step in play- action.  He looks comfortable in zone and has the speed and agility to man up over TEs or slot receivers.  He is also an effective blitzer.  He is involved in almost every play.

Stanzi continues to have an outstanding Senior campaign making great decisions, accurate throws, and winning audibles.  I expect him to continue this for the rest of the season.

Spud’s Spin: Edge Iowa- Valai is a solid player but he is exploitable in the run and when he is the deep safety Stanzi has to recognize and take advantage of it.  Henry is a good player and should begin to get some notice but he has some exploitable flaws as well.  His speed and aggressiveness can be used against him.  Stanzi has done an excellent job of moving coverage so far this season.

5 Terrible predictions

  • Clay and White will combine for less yards than Robinson.
  • Iowa will have only 2 red zone appearances but score 5 TDs
  • Iowa’s defense will force Tolzien into 3 ints.
  • Clayborn will relegate Carimi to RT status in the NFL with a 3 sack performance
  • Wisconsin Receivers 4 drops, Iowa receivers 1 drop.

These are two similar teams, Iowa has 5 offensive turnovers (3 fumbles, two picks) and Wisconsin has 5 offensive turnovers (3 fumbles, two picks).  They both like to possess the ball, and force opposing offenses into mistakes. The Hawks struggles last season versus the run against physical teams. Wisconsin was able to run the ball with some success last year until Clay sustained an injury.   However this year the D-line is just much, much tougher to run against.  I actually think the Badger’s O-line was playing better last season.  If you become predictable versus this Iowa defense bad things happen and the Badgers basically have to run behind Carimi and Moffitt to be successful.  That is right at Clayborn and Klug.  I just think Iowa win’s that matchup more often than not.  Iowa’s offense just put 38 points on an individually talented Michigan unit.  Wisconsin’s defense doesn’t boast the talent of the Michigan unit but they play much better as a team.  However I think that this Iowa offense will have a lot of success, and take advantage of Wisconsin turnovers.

Spud’s Spin: Iowa 38 Wisconsin 17 Wisconsin runs for less than 100 total yards

By Patrick Webb
HawkeyeNation.com Contr

  • imported_jsmith337

    Wow Patrick,
    Nice job as always, you’ve been nuts on the final score all year, I pray to God that this week is the same. Less than 100 yards rushing for Wisconsin, I would buy the whole team a beer, or juice…whatever.

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