To paraphrase the "Big Lebowski," every year, there's a man. Every year, there's a man. I won't say hero, 'cause what's a hero. Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talking about the Internet legend here -- this year it's Damond Powell, the dude from Toledo.
Sometimes, there's a man for his time and place.
I'd like to thank Sam Elliott for stopping by the blog.
Let's talk about the "internet legend" concept and how it translates to reality.
I'd love to simply wave it off as recruiting hype and move along with my day, but we both know I have a hand in this, too. I saw Powell, the 6-0 zephyr who pretty much ran away with the summer scrimmage. I added to the mythology as much as anyone. I admit it, I thought Powell would have a bigger role in the offense, too.
I hope I also wrote about the few stupendous caveats that came with such a leap of logic. Powell was coming from Snow College in Utah. From the beginning it was understood that he would need the entire summer to finish class, so he could be eligible for the fall. The "entire summer" really was the entire summer. He didn't show up until the Thursday before fall camp.
So, maybe he had a chance to study the playbook (play iPad?) in Utah, maybe he didn't. I imagine if he was pushing his classes through the summer, they were pretty important to his eligibility. Then, there was the conditioning aspect, something Kirk Ferentz brought up more than once in the run-up to the season.
I know, we all kind of rolled our eyes. He's a receiver. Do some push-ups and wind sprints and pull-ups. All those old timey exercises. Apparently, it's not that easy. It's not that easy to soak in the playbook, either. This is not "The Matrix." You can't learn Kung Fu by plugging a cable into the back of your head. Learning the nuance of a passing offense takes time (roll your eyes). Also, there's the fact that there already were six or seven WRs here who entered their second seasons with the play iPad. And what about blocking? That is a thing WRs do. I know it is, I've seen it.
WR Bobby Kennedy didn't help the matter with this quote: "The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, the guy can really run.’ That’s a good thing,” first-year wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy said upon first viewing Powell’s recruiting video. “You’re not sitting there going, ‘How fast is he?’ If you’re fast, you’re fast. That’s been a nice development on the Iowa football front.”
Why, yes. Speed is a nice development on the Iowa football front.
You have to believe Powell is landlocked by what he does or doesn't know in the playbook. Perhaps, there also are blocking issues. He is slight. Do coaches want to limit his exposure of the middle because he might only weigh 165 pounds? So far, his play has been, using technical terms, running really fast down field. He has one catch for 49 yards and he helped facilitate a 47-yarder to TE George Kittle, pulling coverage out from underneath against Missouri State.
Ferentz isn't much for revealing his players' deficiencies. That's for former coaches in TV booths. During the first Tuesday of the season, I asked "Is he [Powell] a guy you can count on in every situation?"
Ferentz said, "It's like a lot of players, we'll try to find roles for everybody and play to their strengths, do what they do best, and certainly we'll do that with him, too."
That is where it's at with Powell. The internet deification was premature. My bad. It's early, just three games in, anything can happen.
Kirk Ferentz speaks on the Big Ten teleconference at 11:40. We start with Big Ten notes and statistics. (Iowa has given up 10 pass plays of 20-plus yards, so that's a trend now.)
B1G MOMENTS IN ROSE BOWL HISTORY - Jan. 1, 1962 – Minnesota 21, UCLA 3: The 1962 Rose Bowl Game was the first national color television broadcast of a college football game. Minnesota, making its second straight appearance in Pasadena, avenged its loss from the previous season. Gopher quarterback Sandy Stephens rushed for two touchdowns and was named the game’s most valuable player.
BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT - Illinois’ Mike Hopkins: Awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1992, Mike Hopkins started in the Illini defensive backfield as a sophomore, junior and senior. His teams went to four consecutive bowl games, capping his career as a captain for the 1991 squad that went to the Sun Bowl. Hopkins was an Academic All-American in 1991 and graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering. He will realize a childhood dream later this month when he climbs aboard a Souyz spacecraft on Sept. 25 for his first spaceflight. Hopkins will rendezvous with the International Space Station and assist with several hundred experiments during his six-month mission. More information on Hopkins and his expedition can be found on nasa.gov.
Start to the Conference Season: The race for the Big Ten Championship begins this weekend with the debut of conference play on Saturday . . .
The Road to Indy: The third annual Big Ten Football Championship Game will begin at 8:17 p.m. ET on December 7, and will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis . . .
Back Four More: Wisconsin enters conference play seeking its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship . . .
Where We Rank: Five Big Ten teams appear among the top 25 in the latest Associated Press (AP) or USA Today coaches polls . . .
Three in a Row: Five Big Ten programs have put together three-game winning streaks to start the season, the most undefeated conference squads through three weeks since 2010 . . .
Land of 10,000 Yards: After passing for more than 200 yards against UCLA last Saturday, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez went over 10,000 yards of total offense in his career, becoming just the ninth Big Ten player in history to reach the landmark . . ..
Offensive Proficiency: Big Ten offenses rank among the nation’s best in numerous statistical categories with at least four among the top 30 in scoring, rushing and total offense and pass efficiency . . .
Defensive Prowess: The conference’s defensive units have also opened the season in impressive fashion with numerous programs ranked at or near the top of nation’s statistical leaders. Michigan State ranks first overall in both total defense and pass efficiency . . .
WMU coach P.J. Fleck was a freshman wideout for Northern Illinois in '99, when Iowa topped NIU. It was Ferentz's first and only win in '99.
And here's Ferentz from the Big Ten teleconference:
Intro -- Happy to win Saturday. Didn't come easy. Happy to get out of there with a win. Move on to this week. WMU coming, work to do.
On Mark Weisman -- Pleased with what he's doing. Works hard, practices well.
What's it take to be big back -- It takes mental toughness. Mark stays in phenomenal shape all the time. Shonn had some extended time of not training. Everyone who plays college football is sore by now.
WMU has good secondary -- It's a challenge. I think that is the strength of their defense. Their scheme, they make it tough for you to run the football. DBs are good against the pass. We're not the most prolific throwing team anyway.
On Fleck -- Playing with good energy and enthusiasm.
Off win vs. ISU, secondary question -- It was the tale of two cities. We played well for three-plus quarters defensively and then struggled the last six minutes. Gave up a couple of plays. We've been plagued with a little bit. Part of it is communication and finishing the game better. We haven't done a good job with that in three games. If we don't get it cleaned, it's going to be a problem in B1G and this week.
Up-tempo offense question, expect to give up yards? -- Peaked at stats Sunday night. Amazing how many yards and points. Wonder if anyone is playing defense anymore. Gotta be close to a record pace. Still a place for good defense. More of a challenge.
Tougher for defensive mindset -- Always believed winning is winning. No matter score. The scores you're seeing are a little farther down the road in general terms.
Hitchens and 59 rush yards vs. ISU -- Linebackers are playing well. They're seniors. Hitchens had a lot of tackles last year. It's where he's making them. Playing a lot more decisively. He's seeing things quicker and reacting quicker.
A safe place for a head coach to vent -- It's like I tell our players, unless you're in a closet, assume someone is filming or recording you. Probably not. It's an interesting world right now.
"The moral of the story is better wait until you get home and hope your wife is on your side. That's a 50-50 shot anymore."
PDF of Ferentz news conference (you'll find this a little more useful):
Team is healthy. The theft is addressed here, very briefly. Run defense, change of pace on tempo, Mark Weisman, fullback, Tevaun Smith.
Long pass plays allowed. "Can't waste a day." Practicing cleaner is top of fix list. On Weisman's carries (They don't know what the limits are here, basically). Bounce from ISU win. Holding back.
On Bo Pelini. Balance on offense. Resisting the new-fangled offensive ideas. "Good for where you're at." Tempo, slowing down and then speeding up. Something on the run. Good players in the MAC.
Sounds as though CB Jordan Lomax will be back this week. Fullbacks (good stuff here, if you see a fullback post, it was my idea). More on Weisman. Something on WMU coach P.J. Fleck, who played against a Ferentz-coached Iowa team in '99. Something Rudock. Something Rudock running. I ask about Powell and gauging how much of the offense he knows.On LB Anthony Hitchens (playing well so far this year). Can't read my notes. On A.J. Derby getting the start at QB for Arkansas. Middle of the O-line. On Scherff and Van Sloten. Rudock poise question.