Posted by: marcmwm | October 19, 2008

Next stop November

Next stop November

By Marc Morehouse
Photo

(Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Pat Angerer (43) tackles Wisconsin’s John Clay (32) as Garrett Graham (89) struggles with Iowa’s Christian Ballard (46) during the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday. The 5-3 Hawkeyes have no game this weekend.

IOWA CITY — The Hawkeyes are taking the week off.

For the first time since 2005, Iowa has a bye week on its hands. Mrs. Angerer in Bettendorf, you better fire up the stove. You’re about to have one hungry linebacker on your hands.

“I think I’m going to go back home Friday and Saturday and just relax,” linebacker Pat Angerer said. “I’ll eat my mom’s food and stuff.”

Chow down, Hawkeyes.

After the bye, you face a November run that includes a trip to rival Illinois and then No. 3 Penn State in Kinnick Stadium’s biggest game this season. You host struggling Purdue and finish at surging Minnesota.

You have a lot of Big Ten in front of you. You also have a lot of possibilities, big possibilities. Mom’s home cooking certainly can’t hurt.

Mention the possibilities to coach Kirk Ferentz and he talks improvement.

“I think we’re capable of improving a lot more,” Ferentz said. “That’s exciting. It’s a good thing, it’s a positive thing. All that being said, all we have to do in the next game is go out and turn it over again four times and right back to square one. We’re capable of improvement and that’s exciting.”

Some parts of Iowa (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) need more improving than others.

Running back Shonn Greene shared a locker with perfection in Saturday’s 38-16 spanking of Wisconsin (3-4, 0-4). The 235-pound junior rushed for 217 yards and four touchdowns, tying for sixth-best performance in a game by an Iowa back and tying Iowa and Kinnick records for points (24) in a game.

He averaged an incredible 8.7 yards a carry and showed breakaway speed on TD runs of 34, 52 and 34. His 54-yarder was Iowa’s longest from scrimmage since Damian Sims scored on a 71-yarder against Minnesota in 2005.

What in the world does Greene need to improve on?

“317 yards and five touchdowns,” he joked. “Just gotta keep going with it. The season’s not over. We’ve just got to keep hammering away.”

Two of Greene’s TDs were products of excellent scouting and offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe’s play-calling.

On second-and-10 at Iowa’s 48, Wisconsin sent strong safety Jay Valai on a late blitz. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi took a five-step drop. Iowa’s offensive line blocked in a pass protection mode. Then, Stanzi put the ball in Greene’s belly.

Fullback Brett Morse, guard Julian Vandervelde and center Rob Bruggeman dominated one-on-one match-ups on Greene’s left. Tight end Brandon Myers made the play, chipping on Valai and then locking up with a linebacker.

“Efforts like that, that’s what it takes to win football games,” Ferentz said. “We’re getting that. That’s a heady senior player doing a nice job.”

Valai was free, but his blitzing posture basically took him out of the play. By the time he saw Greene with the ball, all he could do was get a diving swipe on Greene’s hip. Wide receiver Andy Brodell had corner Niles Brinkley blocked and Greene was free for 52 yards and a 21-9 Iowa lead.

“We pride ourselves in blocking downfield,” Brodell said. “We know we’ve got a good chance, if Shonn can get through the linebackers, if we can make those blocks downfield, we’re going to spring him loose.”

Iowa’s running game is built on the zone blocking scheme. That run was a classic draw. It basically pantsed the Wisconsin defense.

“We wanted to catch the defense,” Greene said. “We were running zones a lot. They hadn’t seen a draw. It was blocked clean. We picked off the safety and I hit it off the right kind of and it was open.

“Just lulling them to sleep. Zone, zone. Left, right. And then you come out with a pitch and a draw.”

The pitch Greene mentioned came in the fourth quarter. It was a play Iowa hasn’t used much. O’Keefe put it in the game plan this week.

On second-and-8 from Wisconsin’s 34, Iowa lined up in an offset I formation, with tight end Allen Reisner split out. Reisner threw a crackback block on defensive end O’Brien Schofield that echoed into the stands. Wide receiver Trey Stross picked off Valai, tackle Kyle Calloway pulled out and took Brinkley out of the play and Greene hurdled a diving arm tackle from safety Chris Maragos and tiptoed the sideline for the 35-9 knockout.

Zone, zone, zone and then pitch.

“It’s been a while since we’ve run that play,” Ferentz said. “We thought it might have a chance mainly because of something they were doing defensively. It worked out. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.

Then, Ferentz made his point.

“Just for the record, Ken O’Keefe put the play in and made the call,” he said.

Ferentz has acknowledged the criticism — from media, radio call-in shows and the Internet — of his assistant coaches more than once this season. It’s something that definitely has his attention.

“I realize which way the wind is blowing right now and that’s fine, that’s part of what we do,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you can’t control any of those things. You just ask that people be fair with their opinions.”

It might be smart to wait on that opinion.

The next time the Hawkeyes take the field, it’ll be November and they’ll have a lot of big possibilities in front of them.

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Responses

  1. Wow, that was fun to attend.

    This team is getting better every week and I loved KF’s KOK commentary, good stuff.

    I watched the replay last night and the penalty they called on Myers for the head slap was a crock. They were lucky they didn’t get called for a clip on his(BM’s) block on Reisner’s TD.

    Also, the woodshed comment was hysterical and then I read the comment from your co-worker.

    Dude, between that and your Ecker comments your office’s camaraderie must be soaring?

    Finally, Shonn probably won’t win the Heisman but there aren’t any RB’s I’d take over him. He is such a female dog to defensive players, those kids must detest seeing him for 4 quarters.

  2. I realize which way the wind is blowing right now and that’s fine, that’s part of what we do,” he said.

    “At the end of the day, you can’t control any of those things. You just ask that people be fair with their opinions.”

    Those two sentences reaffirm tol me why I like KF so much. He is so even keeled and that’s one great trait of all strong leaders.

  3. Hey E,

    I think you bring up a great question about the Myers’ hit. I thought it was a weak call, too. KF made this point a few weeks ago, saying something to the effect “I don’t know how you officiate tackling.” You’re starting to hear this in the pros, too, with Steelers SS Troy Polamalu and Steelers WR Hines Ward. They want to know why they’re being called for penalties for, essentially, playing physical football. I agree.

    Greene on the Heisman — There are so many good players. Colt McCoy has really stuck his foot in the door the last couple weeks. I’d focus on Iowa winning out and Greene maybe getting the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football Award, which goes to the Big Ten’s MVP (great award, BTW, I’ve followed it forever). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, E. Illinois and Penn State out of the bye shapes the season, no question.

    Our office? Well, we’ve got a couple Dwights, a Michael, several Creeds, no Pams and a bunch of Kevins. I’m Andy Bernard. I’m way into acapella.

  4. “Our office? Well, we’ve got a couple Dwights, a Michael, several Creeds, no Pams and a bunch of Kevins. I’m Andy Bernard. I’m way into acapella.”

    Classic!


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