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1. No, Beathard isn’t escaping the pocket
We’ve tagged Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard with the term “holding on to the ball too long” this week. It’s partly true, but it also needs a little more examination.
Let’s go to the last sack against Northwestern (No. 6 if you’re counting at home). This was the fourth for Northwestern defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo against Iowa left tackle Cole Croston. Croston needs to protect better. That’s a given.
Here are a few more elements that affected that play: Tight end George Kittle was covered, didn’t separate and his route didn’t account for the pressure. This was the sixth sack of the game. At some point, that has to factor into what you’re trying to do. Wide receiver Riley McCarron had run a marathon at this point and had trouble getting a clean release against the NU corner. Northwestern played tight press coverage all day, daring Iowa to hurt it through the air.
Running back Derrick Mitchell was in the backfield and stayed with a linebacker in the middle. Northwestern had a few successful delayed blitzes. This had to have been Mitchell’s assignment.
From the snap of the ball to Beathard being tackled, the play lasted 2.54 seconds. What does the 2.54 seconds mean? Pro Football Focus puts the optimal split at 2.6 seconds. This was a third-and-7, so it was an obvious passing down. To expect 3.0 seconds in the pocket on an obvious passing situation, it’s just not going to happen.
PFF also has Beathard holding the ball an average of 3.45 seconds on sacks. Third-and-longs are stunt work for most teams, but Iowa has crashed this year, converting on four of 18 chances on pass plays of third-and-7 or more.
“There are times I can get the ball out of my hand quicker, but in those third-and-long situations, those are tough gets,” Beathard said. “You’re waiting for routes to develop. You want to stay out of those third-and-longs as much as possible. That helps me get the ball out of my hand quicker.”
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz continues to point to Beathard, receivers getting open and the protection as being locked together and out of sync. Of course, that’s correct.
“That’s a team thing, whether it’s protection, guys not getting open fast enough or maybe it’s us not reading the right plays, right places, all those three things factor into it, so that’s what we have to keep working on,” Ferentz said.
There’s also the fact that Beathard has been more stationary in the pocket this season. Most if not all of his sacks last week came in the pocket. He didn’t escape any. He escaped twice against Rutgers and North Dakota State, but escape-ability has been less of an element in his game this season.
In that regard, Ferentz said there’s no injury. Beathard still wears a brace on his left knee after suffering a sprain in camp in August. Is it pocket presence? Well, like they’ve said, it’s a little bit of everything.
“I’m definitely feeling pressure in the pocket,” Beathard said. “As a quarterback, you can sense certain pressure.”
This is another “X” that everyone is doing the algebra to solve. Iowa’s offense right now is an equation with so many variables.
2. Recruiting update with HawkeyeReport.com
It’s Chevin Calloway week in recruiting. It’s what everyone wants to know. Here’s HawkeyeReport.com publisher Tom Kakert with an update:
When you recruit highly rated out-of-state prospects and get them to verbally commit to your school, the next step is usually to try and hold on to them until signing day in February. That’s certainly true for Iowa over the years as they try and fend off other programs.
Which brings us to Chevin Calloway, the 4-start recruit from Dallas, Texas, who verbally committed to Iowa in early July. Calloway has a monster offer list that includes Texas, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma. It was a long list of schools and essentially every major program offered the cornerback from the Lone Star State. Calloway toured several schools during June, including Iowa, and after spending time with the Iowa coaches and Thorpe Award winner Desmond King, he picked the Hawkeyes.
Since then, he has remained solid with the Hawkeyes, even as other schools continued to try to break his verbal commitment. Even today, on his Twitter page he lists himself as an Iowa commit and has the statement he made when he committed pinned to the top of his Twitter page.
But, it appears that things have started to go south in recent weeks. Last week he took an official visit to Nebraska, who also is, along with Iowa, pursuing his high school teammate, 3-star defensive tackle Damion Daniels. He’s schedule to visit Arkansas and has also made an unofficial visit to Texas, where he may still take an official visit. Calloway also says he plans to take an official visit to Iowa, but is the relationship beyond repair at this point?
Calloway told HuskerOnline.com, of the Rivals.com network, following his visit to Lincoln the reason he has started to look around was due to communication issues.
“I felt like it was a little sign from Iowa when I was unable to communicate with them. Communication is a big thing, especially when it’s with a player that’s already committed. You don’t just stop talking to somebody and that’s kind of what has happened.”
Our reporting at HawkeyeReport.com suggests that Iowa has done everything within the NCAA rules in terms of allowable communication with Calloway before and since his verbal commitment in July.
3. Big Ten Love Tester
It’s Purdue at Illinois.
Illinois is 1-3. The Boilermakers are 2-2 and have a sinkhole in their end zone. Seriously. It’s a real thing that’s happening.
This is 2:30 on BTN. You can do it. I know you can.
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