Saturday, September 1, 2007
Here's The Thing
Every week we'll be bringing you the "most important thing" to watch for that week in Iowa's game. Whether you're an expert or a novice, you'll be able to look for one thing and know, right away, if the Hawkeyes are going to win. This week is particularly easy:
If we stop the run up the middle, we win.
It really is that simple. If you look at film from 2002-2004 you'll find an Iowa team that was damn near impossible to attack up the gut. We forced opponents into 2nd & 9's and 10's which immediately applies pressure to the opponent's Offensive Coordinator. It's the 1st quarter and he's forced to go off script. He wants to establish the run and show those farmboys who's boss, so he calls another run. It fails too, and now they're in 3rd & long. You want to know the only statistic that matters to the great and powerful JHC? Opponent's yards to go on 3rd down. Doesn't sound sexy but if you dominate this category it wins more games than anything else. Turnovers, dropped passes, and special teams are fluky. They're difficult to control and impossible to predict but if you keep your opponent in 3rd & long you will win 100% of the time. This is science and therefore cannot be disputed.
3rd & long forces your opponent to throw and that's when bad things happen, man. You might think throwing is fun, but ask a grizzled Offensive Coordinator and they'll tell you that there are 3 possible results (completion, incompletion, interception) from a pass attempt and 2 of them are bad. It also forces their quarterback to think and there's nothing an OC hates more than that. They don't want some college kid free lancing and making decisions out there. It takes the control out of their hands and it gives them ulcers.
The other result of a passing situation is the sack and nothing fuels a defense more than a sack. All the D talks about all week is hitting the QB and once they get a taste of him on game day they become obsessed. One guy gets a taste and the whole pack wants some. They start passing the QB around like a teen runaway at a biker rally. It's a beautiful thing.
The biggest difference between our good teams and our... ahem... average teams of the last 2 seasons has been our commitment to stopping the run up the gut. As you may know, Defensive Coordinator Norm Parker doesn't do much in the way of adjustments. We give you pretty much the same look in every situation and it's up to you to beat us. Stopping the run is about attitude and focus. I'm not sure how to say this, but basically, our attitude has been soft and our focus has been elsewhere. The strength of this year's team is our defensive line. Kenny Iwebema, Mitch King, Matt Kroul, and Bryan Mattison all have a legitimate shot at 1st Team All Big 10. You think they aren't going to compete? You think one of these guys wants to be the one who doesn't get mentioned at the end of the year? They do their job and we win 10 games. They don't and it's going to be another long season. The success or failure of this team lies in their hands and they know it. You watch the first half of the game today and you'll know it too.
We've been waiting for 8 months and game day is finally here. It's a new season and we can finally get the bad taste from last year out of our mouth. So let's agree to bury it and look forward to this year and starting fresh.
If you're going to the game and tailgating, please follow JHC's 3 simple rules:
1) Don't boo.
2) Don't chuck bottles at people (even if it's a girl in an Ohio State sweatshirt).
3) If you drink, don't drive.
Make us proud out there.