Chad Leistikow reviewed the tape from Iowa's Saturday night win over Miami, and has come to a wise conclusion: Iowa's ability to run out of shotgun formations is an actual game-changer:
Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz found something in the opener that made the running game go and, at the same time, kept the RedHawks guessing.
The outcome: Unpredictability and efficiency when quarterback Nate Stanley was in a shotgun set (typically with a running back to his side).
By my count, Iowa went shotgun 26 times. Two plays resulted in a 15-yard penalty each way (intentional grounding, pass interference), so those were a wash.
On the remaining 24? Nine running plays for 75 yards (8.3 per carry); 15 passing plays for 163 yards and three red-zone touchdowns.
That’s 9.9 yards a play. Talk about efficient.
Iowa has exhibited a maddening tendency in the last, oh, say, eighteen years to run overwhelmingly out of run formations and pass out of passing formations. The only formation that has exhibited a shred of credibility as an either/or circumstance for defenders has been single-back, three-wide (with the notable exception the last two years of two-tight-end formations, because Hock and Fant). Greg Davis was certainly worthy of ridicule, but telegraphing run/pass calls by formation, then running the same single running play 80 percent of the time, didn't make his job any easier.
When Brian Ferentz acted as 'run game coordinator' in 2015 and 2016, Iowa's running game improved considerably. It didn't hurt to have good backs, but a significant portion of that improvement was due to diversity in the running game, both in formation and playcall.
I always assumed that, if Iowa was going to avoid telegraphing its run calls and allowing defenders to stack the line, it would be through diverse playcalling from its base run formations. But if the Hawkeyes can run zone effectively from passing formations, as it did Saturday, that has the same effect, particularly with a talented group of wideouts to punish overloaded defenses.
The First Cut is the Deepest
Twenty-five former Hawkeyes made the final cut for NFL rosters this year. If your rooting interest in the NFL is based on the number of former Iowa players on the roster, you're aligning with Detroit (Mike Daniels, T.J. Hockenson, and Matt Nelson), San Francisco (George Kittle, C.J. Beathard, and Ross Reynolds) or Denver (Noah Fant, Josey Jewell, and Casey Kreiter); of those, only Denver has three Hawkeyes on the active roster. Doc's list, linked above, does not include Jake Rudock, who was cut by the Dolphins only to re-sign to the Miami practice squad the following day.
Notable omissions include Akrum Wadley, who was not in an NFL camp this fall after surgery, and James Ferentz, who was released by New England late last week. This would mark the first time in as long as I can remember that there isn't a Hawkeye on New England, which is just another reason to hate New England.
BHGP has a fairly comprehensive rundown of the roster status of the former Hawks still making a living on the gridiron.
Odds and Ends
He's just a hunk-a hunk-a burning troll:
Happy birthday, America:
You might think that July 4th is America's Birthday. You would be wrong. Because today is Ricky Stanzi's birthday. And if he's not America, I don't know what is. pic.twitter.com/uCWESdRLOd— Hawkeye Elvis (@HawkeyeElvis) September 3, 2019
Former Iowa power forward Ahmad Wagner made his first catch as a wide receiver for Kentucky this weekend:
The Ahmad Wagner Experience is here! pic.twitter.com/bH5lWqe1pA— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 31, 2019
Sports Illustrated profiled Red Panda, frequent Carver-Hawkeye Arena halftime performer and a perpetual favorite of the GIA staff. And we're not the only ones:
Niu releases another deep breath, silently meditating in a small pocket of the Wells Fargo Center’s depths. “I’m hiding in the corner so I don’t have to say hi to anybody,” she admits. Instead, Niu clears her mind. She will balance the pedals with her left foot, while her right flips each dish into a stack above her head. A courtside waitress walks past to collect the latest order from the nearby backstage bar. “Oh my god!” she squeals at Niu. “You’re my favorite!”
SI (really killing it this week) also gets the story of how Tom Herman turned down LSU for Texas, giving Ed Orgeron the job, with some deep recon courtesy of Lane Kiffin, cameos by Mike Leach and Steve Spurrier, and piles of Louisiana intrigue. When people ask me why I still blog about Iowa, I tell them it's because I've never got to cover a coaching search. This is why I want to cover one.
Speaking of Texas, there was a time when USC tried to out-Texas the Longhorns:
53 years ago, USC came to Austin to take on the Longhorns and they brought John Wayne with them.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) September 3, 2019
This is one of the coolest UT sideline photos I've ever seen - The Duke and DKR.
Thanks to @UT_Bianco for digging this up for me during a busy week. pic.twitter.com/s3UAfAkMZD
Jackson State's mascot got a little too involved in this Sunday's game:
JACKSON STATES MASCOT JUST GOT A PENALTY pic.twitter.com/sePhuTpYkk— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) September 1, 2019
And finally, John Wick 4 might be the best yet.
Meet Nerf John Wick... pic.twitter.com/TZ2n2qb6oN— Rex Chapman (@RexChapman) September 1, 2019