Video Sessions -- It's not the mechanics, but footwork maybe

Michigan State Spartans linebacker Denicos Allen (28) pulls down Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback James Vandenberg (16) after offensive linesman Brandon Scherff (68) let Allen past in the second half of Iowa's 19-16 overtime win at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)
Michigan State Spartans linebacker Denicos Allen (28) pulls down Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback James Vandenberg (16) after offensive linesman Brandon Scherff (68) let Allen past in the second half of Iowa's 19-16 overtime win at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

I told you Iowa QB James Vandenberg would be asked about mechanics.

He's clearly frustrated. It's almost like Jake Christensen facing the questions he faced in '07, when the passing offense was a non-starter (Christensen's numbers, BTW, were 53.5 percent completions (198 of 370), 2,269 yards, 17 TDs, 6 interceptions, 6.1 yards per attempt, 116.94 pass efficiency and 189.1 yards a game.)

My guess is Vandenberg asks for and is granted a media sabbatical after today.

Iowa QB James Vandenberg had confident words for RB Greg Garmon when he entered the game for injured Mark Weisman in the overtimes last week against Michigan State. Vandenberg bristled at the mechanics question the first time it came up, which didn't make the video. Basically, I asked how his mechanics are evaluated. What gets worked on and what gets looked at?

"I haven't played as well as I could've and I need to play better, I'll be the first one to say that," Vandenberg said. "There are so many things that are so close and that have been so close, those maybe skew things a little bit, but at the same time, I need to play better and we need to do better in the passing game."

How much does everyone else have to do their jobs to make this all work?

"Coach [Greg] Davis always talks about how one guy messes up on defense and it's really easy not to take advantage of it," Vandenberg said. "On offense, if one person messes up a lot of times, it screws the whole play, whether it's a run play, blocking certain guys, a pass play, protection. There are so many things. It's an 11-man game."

One area where you're struggling the most, anything specific?

"I don't think I can put my finger on anything specific," he said.

When you're asked about mechanics, what is the maintenance that goes into that?

Sharp laugh. Voice raises.

"From a personal standpoint, I've been fortunate," he said. "I was coached pretty well when I was young. I'm pretty mechanically sound, I'd say. It comes down to executing, though, I don't think it has anything to do with mechanics. Put it on the guy, make the right read, throw it down field when you're supposed to, dump it down when you're supposed to. I think that goes into the struggles more than the mechanics."

So, you'd say your footwork is where it needs to be . . . last Saturday, you're looking around and there are big guys flying around your feet?

"Obviously, footwork can be better," he said. "Every missed throw is footwork. That definitely can be improved."


The Eagles fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the father of Iowa cornerback Greg Castillo, this week. Iowa senior strong safety Tommy Donatell knows that drill. His father, Ed, is the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He's had about a dozen jobs in coaching. Tommy talked about being good at moving.

Penn State is No. 2 in the nation in fourth down conversion attempts. Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde talked about what that can do to a defense. Basically, plan for two third downs. The Lions basically have no kicking game, so they've gone for it on fourth down 20 times, converting 13 (65 percent). Only Army (23) has tried more fourth downs.

Listen while legendary sportscaster Bob Brooks interviews Iowa center James Ferentz. Bob is in his 80s and he is a sharp, sharp man. I'm not sure if I caught it, but Bob got Ferentz to say that Iowa's MVP so far this year is kicker Mike Meyer. Not sure anyone would argue that. Also, Ferentz passes credit for the running game to Mark Weisman like a hot boulder. The kid has humility down.

OL Andrew Donnal talks about his opportunity. No, he doesn't like that it happened because freshman Austin Blythe was injured. But hey, he also has his career and he wants to get in there and make it a hard decision for coaches to put him or take him out. "That's why we have the two deeps." His football clock is ticking, he said. Also, Andrew has a 6-10 brother, Mark, who'll be a basketball player at Michigan next year. Yes, the Donnals are from Ohio and grew up Ohio State fans. So much for that gear.

Sophomore WR Kevonte Martin-Manley talks RB Greg Garmon and about the whole process of bringing freshmen into the fold and making sure they're on the right path. He also talks Keenan Davis, wide receiver leadership progression.

The first question for WR Keenan Davis is why Iowa passes short of the sticks on a third-and-long. He believes receivers can and should make things happen with the ball. As much as Vandenberg is making presnap reads, the WR also are making presnap reads. It's something that remains a work in progress, but Davis likes the progress. The reads come easier as you get older, "It's part of the game, you have to do it. If you're not fast enough (reading the keys that allow you to play faster), you can't play."

By some sort of coincidence, all four D-linemen ended up the last ones at Tuesday's interview session. I asked all of them to break down the best rush move of the others. It'll be a fun story. Only Steve Bigach was political (careful) with his answer. The rest gave an opinion. There are a lot of names for pass rushes. I had no idea. Here's DT Louis Trinca-Pasat on the topic.



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