Four Factors in Review: Iowa vs Iowa State

By Eric Ponto on September 13, 2016 at 7:59 am
Wadley scores a TD against ISU
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
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Don’t get too cute

Sometimes the mismatch on paper plays out on the field. With the talent disparity, Iowa didn’t need to do anything but line up and run its base offense and defense…and that’s pretty much all they did. Besides the really strange no-huddle, 5-wide offense Greg Davis ran out for the first series after half time, this was a simple game plan on both sides of the ball by the Iowa coaches.

I was worried with Desmond King’s talk of shadowing Allen Lazard, an uncharacteristic move, would lead to uncharacteristic mistakes by the defense. The King v. Lazard death match didn’t pan out, though, and Iowa’s corners stayed on their side for the entire game besides a few times where Phil Parker used nickel and dime personnel.

And it worked really well. Lazard ended with 7 catches for 111 yards but wasn’t a game changer. The rest of the ISU offense did next to nothing. Iowa was able to keep everything in front of them, and in classic bend-don’t-break style, just waited for Iowa State to self-destruct, which they did in glorious fashion. The Cyclones only moved beyond Iowa’s 40 yard line once (on their FG drive). They had drive after drive killed by penalties (they had 10 for 73 yards).

That’s two weeks in a row now that Iowa hasn’t shown much on defense. The raider package hasn’t been shown yet. Blitzing has been held to a minimum. There were more stunts run by the defensive line in this game. But overall this is more bland than what Parker showed most of last year. I expect that to change as Iowa plays against better offenses (which I’m not sure that there are many of on this schedule, certainly not Northwestern…).

Attack the edge

Greg Davis tricked me in Week One thinking the offense was going to look a little bit different this year. Toss sweeps, power blocking, WR screens…those were supposed to be the staple plays, right? Nope. This was a classic Iowa offense under KF (besides that aforementioned weird no-huddle series). It was all inside and outside zones, over and over, with some play action and the waggle play thrown in there. And, hot damn, can C.J. Beathard run that offense well.

He looked incredibly sharp again…he was accurate, made good decisions, and made some beautiful plays.

The offense didn’t specifically attack the edge like it did in Week One. Instead it stuck to its bread and butter and ran up and down the field. The Hawkeyes had advantages all over the field: on the edge, up the middle, everywhere. So this was more like the defense…don’t get to cute and you’ll have success.

Continued Kicking Success

Two weeks into the season and I don’t think we could be happier with the performance of the two kickers. Ron Coluzzi continued putting kickoffs into the end zone and had a solid punting day. Again his success was driven by not letting Iowa State set up any returns. The Cyclones averaged just 21 yards on two kick returns and didn’t get a return on four punts. Coluzzi also showed the rugby punt look again and it was a beauty that bounced and rolled down to the 9-yard line.

Keith Duncan remained perfect on the season going 6 for 6 on PATs. He’s had plenty of live game practice in the first two weeks, which should pay off when he has to deliver a pressure kick at some point this season.

Take the leash off of Beathard

I think this is exactly the type of game Iowa coaches want Beathard to run. He stood tall in the pocket when he had time and delivered beautiful balls down the field. He rolled out and made time when Iowa State brought pressure. He spread the ball around to 7 different receivers. And he only took off and ran the ball once on a designed QB draw.

They didn’t really need to unleash anything more than that. He probably only needed to throw it about 10 times for Iowa to roll up a big win, but they took the second half, knowing the game was in hand, to run some different things. As the season goes on and Iowa plays better defense, the leash will come off more and we’ll see Beathard do more with his arm and feet. I can’t wait.

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