Watch the Edge
What is it with Indiana’s sneaky good running backs? I mean, you figure if these guys didn’t play for Indiana they’d get Heisman consideration. In 2015 it was Jordan Howard that rushed 22 times for 174 yards, two touchdowns and averaged a nutso 7.9 YPC against Iowa. In 2014 it was Tevin Coleman who rushed 15 times for 223 yards, three touchdowns and a laughable 14.6 YPC. This season, true freshman Stevie Scott has rushed 107 times for 528 yards and four touchdowns. A note about Scott: he’s 6’2, 233 pounds. He averaged 7.1 YPC against Ohio State. I mean, look at this Brinks truck:
Kevin Wilson understood that Iowa was vulnerable on the edge, and that was back when Iowa had good/experienced linebackers. Wilson isn’t there any longer but you can count on Tom Allen to exploit Iowa’s new linebackers with short passes and runs to the outside. Scott doesn’t have the speed of Howard or Coleman, but he’s still faster than anyone on the defense that isn’t a defensive back. The Hawkeyes need their linemen to play out in space and for the linebackers to not take flag football angles. If they can do that, they can keep Scott in check.
Work IKM, if not Go Young
Hey, so, like, what’s the deal with Ivory Kelly-Martin? By that I mean “Why is Ivory Kelly-Martin starting?” He’s banged up and is only averaging 3.6 YPC, yet Iowa has started with him out of the gate the past two games. His 20 carries for 47 yards was his lowest YPC average of his career (2.4). Meanwhile, Toren Young, who is coming in as sort of a closer, is averaging 5.3 YPC. Now, in fairness, Young didn’t fare much better against the Gophers because they were loading the box for the run, but I’m comfortable saying that Young is the better back right now. If IKM continues to struggle it would make sense to go with the better guy in the rotation.
Wasn’t the philosophy when Iowa had two running backs to start with the heavy guy and end with the burner? Why is Iowa doing it vice-versa these days?
Keep Working the Wide-Receivers
Against Wisconsin, Iowa’s wide-receivers caught a total of six passes for almost 100 yards and no touchdowns. Against Minnesota, Iowa’s wide receivers caught 14 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. That’s quite the improvement and it helps on two fronts.
First off, it helps in the run game. Defenses know that Iowa has been reliant on their tight-ends and tight-ends typically line up in the box. So, regardless of whether or not Iowa is running or passing, defenses will typically load the box. If you’ve got some threats at wide-receiver, those linebackers are going to edge out a little bit from the middle of the field. Those slight adjustments turn into running lanes.
Second off, it helps Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. As much as they enjoy scoring touchdowns, they cannot be the entirety of Iowa’s passing game. There needs to be a deep threat or a guy that can bully a cornerback. Ihsmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith fit that bill. If Iowa can get at least 10 receptions to their wide-receivers each game, their offense is going to look totally different than it did the first 3-4 weeks.
Keep Ramsey Immobile
Typically, when you look at a team’s statistics their second leading rusher isn’t their quarterback. Typically. For Indiana, that's what Peyton Ramsey brings to the table. On the season he’s rushed 61 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns. That’s not exceptionally impressive, but he uses his mobility to keep plays alive and is tough to bring down. He’s also completed an impressive 67% of his passes, but that’s primarily due to Indiana’s west-coast style offense. Mobile quarterbacks, especially mobile Indiana quarterbacks, have given the Hawkeyes the fits over the years. Whether it’s by spying him or Epenesa murderdeathkilling his face, keeping Ramsey in one spot and forcing him to throw the ball like a pro-style quarterback is a key to winning the game.