116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Some fun stuff, some more subtle football nerd stuff (at least a little bit).
1. Welcome to Wadley
- Freshman RB Akrum Wadley is a quick-minded, funny, engaging young person. The UI should have him in front of a camera as much as possible. Or at least as long as he's doing well at RB, that's kind of how this works. Even Wadley wasn't Iowa's only 100-yard rusher in 11 games, I would have him selling the school. Lots going on there.
2. Same for Weisman
- I talked a little with Weisman about being the running back who comes out of nowhere and sweeps all of Hawkeye-dom. He knows that role well, because he was that guy in 2012.
3. Iowa WR freaks me out a little
- In a good way. The group is a little like Whac-A-Mole, the old arcade game with the pillowed hammer and the electronic moles popping their heads out of the machine at indiscriminate times. You just never know who, and you never know when.
It's good that as a corps, anyone player can make a play. It gives Iowa balance and makes it hard to roll coverage one way. It's tough when that turns out to be inconsistency.
4. Iowa's kick return team gets some air time today
- Talked to a few members of that group today. Iowa leads the Big Ten in this category. What makes it tick? Probably write that tomorrow.
5. The D-line and their moves
- Probably writing this for Saturday morning. There are some fun names, but the bottom line is this unit is so unbelievably fundamentally sound that it can do the rip chop or the chop slip or the jab ole' and make it all work on the spot. Fun stuff. Let's see what that tape shows.
6. They passed out of the 22 personnel
- WR Matt VandeBerg laughed at the question. He's the lonely WR out on the island when Iowa goes into its 22 personnel, which is two backs and two TEs. MVB has been the WR in this group. That usually means running a route that doesn't mean a whole lot or blocking. Last week, he caught a couple of passes out of it.
7. Northwestern was Rudock's best game of the season
- Yes, I wrote that I thought QB Jake Rudock had his best game of the season coming out of the game Saturday. But I think more than that, it was the best Iowa's passing game has looked all season.
From Rudock's reads to WR's routes to fantastic pass pro, Iowa's offense, specifically the passing game, was a dynamo last week.
'For the most part our pass protection was really solid,” Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. 'Receivers did a good job. One of those things where everything was clicking. And Jake certainly looked like he had command out there, which is good, and threw the ball well.”
Rudock and WR Tevaun Smith also hooked up for a 20-plus during the game. The timing on that route, it was how they practice it.
'That was a Kodak moment, that play. I happened to really have a nice vantage point,” Ferentz said. 'I was looking right through Tevaun at least where he's making the break to Jake. And if you can get the timing down to that extent, it's really hard for somebody to find use of that. That's maybe as good a play as we've had in a while from that standpoint.”
8. Quick check of UM coach Jerry Kill's quote sheet
- On Iowa's D-line: 'I mean those guys are hard to handle, and not very many people have handled them. And they're playing young linebackers, and they've gotten better each week, just like some of our freshmen have gotten better the more they play. And they're very well coached.
'I mean I just watched, I don't know, six games of, you know, third down and seven or more, and you can count the numbers that people have gotten first downs in those situations. So we better stay out of third down and long or we'll be in trouble. So there's things they do that they just do a great job of scheme wise and coaching that makes them good, but it's also the strength and the size, but that's who Iowa has been for a long time.”
And here's a pretty good breakdown of Iowa's zone rush scheme: Q. Weisman has had a couple big games against the Gophers. Can you talk about him, what kind of threat he poses?
COACH KILL: He's put a lot of good games up against a lot of people. He's a good football player, 245 pounds. If I had a film, I'd show you.
Offensively, they run the outside zone, two back zone as good as anybody. And they run the same thing, you know, adjust it a little bit, but they'll run it, run it, lead the fullback up there and he can hit the seams.
You know, they got a lot they run a wide zone. They stretch it, and he just hangs in there real patient and lets the linebacker run over the top, and then he sticks it. He does a great job.
That's why from a defensive standpoint, we have to be big time disciplined. Everybody's gotta do their job. And you gotta stay in the gap. Linebacker's gotta stay in his gap. They make you be disciplined. And that's what makes him good.
They just keep coming at you, and then they try and make you make a mistake. And then they take advantage of it.
9. Scheduling quirk
- I think Northwestern - let's see, 2011, 2013 and this season - I know Northwestern has played in Kinnick three of the last four years.
Iowa will be at TCF Bank for the fourth time in five years. Let's check - me with my head tilted in thought - 2010, 2011, 2013 and Saturday. Yep, four of the last five.
'Yeah, I guess we can blame that on expansion,” Ferentz said. 'Just like Northwestern can blame coming here. I think they're 3 out of 4. So, just quirks with expansion and what have you. At least it's a really nice town to visit. I think our fans like going up there, going there and Chicago, it's a nice town.”
10. Oh, and this
Q: Did Coach Davis call the plays against Northwestern?
COACH FERENTZ: This past weekend, you're talking about? He's called them ever since he got here. Did you hear something I didn't hear? Was it someone from above calling the plays? (Laughter) psychic. Rosie the Fortune Teller. That's good.”
That rumor really rooted because Iowa looked so darned good Saturday.
I watched closely and tweeted Saturday that Brian Ferentz's involvement with the offense, at least from a sideline perspective, was no different than it's ever been. Kirk Ferentz's involvement was no different. WR coach Bobby Kennedy runs the huddle on the sideline with TE coach D.J. Hernandez assisting.
Nothing looked different. I think this is something a lot of you simply can't be talked off because you so badly want it to be true.
Then again, they all do wear headphones.
Here's Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz from the Big Ten teleconference just now . . . Here we go.
- Congrats to Louis and Akrum for B1G awards. Off to Minny for a challenge with a good team, veteran team.
Rudock best game of the year
- I'd agree. Very sharp. Has played well all season. Very sharp and on spot with everything he did. Fair to say as good of an outing as he's had all year.
LTP progress as anyone
- He'd be right up there. Proud of what he's done, happy for him. Good story. He's all the things you hope for with young guys on your team. Two years ago, beat around pretty good. The improvement he's made since 2012 is commendable. Serious hard-minded guy.
Wadley better than thought
- Probably as good of a play he made was on special teams, as a gunner. Scout team player of the week on offense last week. Didn't know what to expect. Things to learn a lot of maturing to do. But pleased with first time out.
Limegrover (UM assistant)
- Schemes aren't paralell, but approach is comparable. Lots of respect with Jerry Kill and staff. Have a system they believe in. Style of play, built on same principles. Watch film, physical, offense, defense, special teams.
When did UM turn physical corner
- They beat us two years ago.
Four major candidates in B1G West
- Some luck in that. You can't plan those things ahead of time. Competitive conference. College football is popular because interesting games coming the next month.
And now Minny coach Jerry Kill
- Coming off bye week, hopefully that's helped us play better and faster. Team is well coached. Have to match Iowa and not easy.
Crootin' RB David Cobb
- We were scrambling, just getting the job. Got on him late. He's from Killeen, Texas., knew some people there. You never know how good a kid will be until he matures. You knew he had a talent. IMO, he's better than what I thought he would be.
Bye week work?
- Fundamentals. Big believers in fundamentals. Worked anyone we didn't have healthy. Theme was fundamentals.
- Offensively, tw0-back zone scheme. Keep doing it and doing it. RB 240 going to pound it. Throwing the ball very well. Double-edged sword because of run and play-action. Defense, two DTs are very good. Good job upfront. Big test for us, the front seven. They don't beat themselves. Very physical football team.
Similarities with Iowa
- Had Southern Illinois staff visit Iowa when Kill was there. The stress was fundamentals. Physical football. Field position. Lots of similarities, maybe different philosophies how you get there as an offense and defense.
Iowa have UM attention
- Last two games we played against them, they whipped our tail end. Our kids are well aware what Iowa brings to the table.
Iowa running the ball, Scherff, what makes him unique and good
- He's big and strong. Great technique. Fundamentally sound. Great feet and length. Must be very coachable. Doesn't make mistakes. Great feet and great hands.
On Damien Wilson, UM LB
- He and David Cobb are related and they're similar. Wilson is a juco and hiFs improvement has been great. More comfortable, more confident. Well need an extreme amount of discipline for Saturday's game.
Iowa news conference . . . It begins about 12:45. Ferentz videos and transcript here at about 3.
Figuring out RB
. . . I don't have a huge opener today.
Some quick thoughts on RB: I need to get this straight in my head before going over there.
Here's where I thought the RBs were coming out of camp:
1. Mark Weisman
2. Jordan Canzeri
3. Damon Bullock
4. LeShun Daniels
5. Jonathan Parker
6. Akrum Wadley
Weisman is Weismaning at volume 11 right now. I expect that his workload will be measured closely in the next four games.
Canzeri is a big question mark. Iowa radio said high-ankle sprain for him. That could be a four-weeker. I think he'll be back sooner. Man, opportunity is fleeting for these guys. I think coaches virtually handed Canzeri the job at one point this year, but his health hasn't cooperated.
Bullock is the third-down, passing back. I'm not sure he even belongs on the RB depth chart. He's a completely different animal, effective in the passing game and no real strong feel in the running game. I don't expect him to see more than a couple of carries, unless there are injuries. And there have been and probably will be injuries.
Daniels is done for the regular season with what sounds like a stress fracture in his foot or ankle. Weisman said when the burly sophomore went down in practice during the bye week, it didn't look like much. Kirk Ferentz talked at the beginning of the season about thoughts of a redshirt. They didn't, and now UI will appeal the Big Ten for an extra season. It's a long shot.
On Saturday's radio broadcast, Dolph or Ed Podolak said Wadley was ahead of Parker for awhile in camp. It didnt' work out that way. Parker was the first one use.
I think they're kind of tied to the hip. Parker has a little better straight-line speed. Wadley has a little more size and seems to have a keen instinct. It's one game, let's not go nuts.
Ferentz started last week saying Wadley would play. Running backs coach Chris White said Wadley would play and would play well. It worked out exactly that way.
This week's factors: Minnesota is a physical run defense.
Is Canzeri healthy? Is Parker healthy? Parker left the game after one run in the first quarter. He smacked his head on a road case behind NU's bench when returning a kick 54 yards to set up Iowa's opening score.
If they're out, it's Weisman, probably some Bullock and a good mix of Wadley.
Scherff a Lombardi semifinalist . . . It's November. Now the watch lists matter.
From UI sports info:
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa senior offensive lineman Brandon Scherff is 1-of-12 players named to the semifinal list for the 2014 Rotary Lombardi Award. The announcement was made late Monday by the Rotary Club of Houston. The 45th Rotary Lombardi Award will be presented Dec. 10, in Houston, Texas.
Scherff, a native of Denison, Iowa (Denison HS), is 1-of-2 offensive players among the semifinal candidates. A list of four finalists will be announced Monday, Nov. 17. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle has started all eight games this season. He has 21 consecutive starts and has started 31 games in his career.
Scherff has helped the Hawkeyes post a 6-2 record to date, including a 3-1 Big Ten Conference mark. Earlier this season he was named a first team mid-season All-American by ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, SportingNews.com and Phil Steele. Prior to the season, Scherff was 1-of-5 players named to the Big Ten Conference West Division Players to Watch list.
Prior to his final season, Scherff was named to Watch Lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy. He was a preseason first team All-American by USA Today, Bleacher Report, and the website College Sports Madness.
A year ago, Scherff started all 13 games as Iowa posted an 8-5 record. He was named second team All-America by the Football Writers Association (FWAA) and third team All-America by both Athlon Sports and Lindy's. He earned first team All-Big Ten honors from league coaches and was Iowa's offensive Most Valuable Player. He has been a member of Iowa's Leadership Group in each of the last four years.
Scherff is the sixth Iowa lineman to be named a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was a finalist for the award as a senior in 2010. Additional Hawkeyes named as semifinalists include Jeff Drost (1986), Mike Devlin (1992), Jared DeVries (1998) and Robert Gallery (2003).
Here are a few interesting Big Ten notes . . . The Big Ten West Division playoff begins this week:
' With its victory on Saturday, Ohio State won its 20th consecutive conference game to tie the Big Ten record for longest conference winning streak set by the Buckeyes from 2005-07. Michigan State enters this weekend riding a 13-game conference winning streak, the longest by the Spartans since a school-record 16-game stretch from 1965-67.
' Michigan State and Ohio State are tied atop the East Division standings at 4-0 in conference play heading into their meeting this weekend, a rematch of the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game . . .
' The race for the West Division title remains tight with four teams each having lost just once in conference play. Nebraska leads the way at 4-1, followed by Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin at 3-1. The Hawkeyes and Gophers will face off on Saturday, kicking off a four-week stretch run featuring matchups between all of the West's top four teams.
' With their sixth victory of the season last weekend, Iowa, Maryland and Wisconsin secured bowl eligibility. A total of seven conference teams have now recorded at least six wins this season, including Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Nebraska . . .
' The Big Ten features five of the top 10 defenses in the country, including three of the top five. Wisconsin leads the nation in total defense, with the Badgers allowing only 253.8 yards per game . . .
' A pair of Big Ten kickers find themselves rated among the top three nationally. Maryland's Brad Craddock is 14-for-14 this season to lead the nation in field goal percentage and has now converted his last 20 attempts. Penn State's Sam Ficken ranks third in the nation with 2.12 field goals per game.
' Indiana's Mark Murphy, Michigan State's Mike Sadler and Northwestern's Brandon Vitabile were named recipients of the National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete Awards and finalists for the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy . . .
' Big Ten teams compete for 16 different rivalry trophies and another one will be up for grabs this weekend. Saturday's Iowa-Minnesota contest features the battle for Floyd of Rosedale, a trophy that dates back to 1935.
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