Iowa Football

Iowa football mailbag: KungFuJohnBob is right, the sky isn't falling

I actually just wanted to write 'KungFuJohnBob," it's way more fun than I thought

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz puts his headset back on after a 21-yard run by Iowa Hawkeyes running back Mekhi Sargent (10) during the fourth quarter of their game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz puts his headset back on after a 21-yard run by Iowa Hawkeyes running back Mekhi Sargent (10) during the fourth quarter of their game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Anyone binge watching anything worthwhile?

Mr. Robot started up. I watched the first ep. I’m going to need to rewatch the show a few times. It’s dense, but I feel like it’s worth it. Other than that, kind of watching for the next season of “Ozark.” Rewatch the finale from season 2 and pay attention to the power shift between Wendy and Marty.

Now let’s do football stuff.

 

1) I wanted to get the Twitter handle “KungFuJohnBob” in the mix.

2) What KungFuJohnBob said.

Football is fleeting. The “love the Hawkeyes” when they win, “fire everyone” when they lose is giving me whiplash. I welcome analytical thoughts. Rants about Brian Ferentz are just getting tiresome.

 

Jim the Adequate, meet Marc the Winging It. Hope all is well.

This is a great question. You’re going to hate my answer.

No, they shouldn’t. Officials are the final word. I know that sucks sometimes. The missed calls can be aggravating, and last week, the Hawkeyes would’ve had a major beef with the missed false start against Purdue Jim mentions. Critical moment late in the game. Now, Kirk Ferentz didn’t bring it up this week. Something like that is quickly explained in the moment. Maybe KF went at officials on the field in the moment, but I don’t remember that.

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I’ve seen everything you guys have on that play. Holy bleep, I don’t see anything. I see an offside and the Hawkeyes grinding the clock to dust.

 

But that’s not what some official saw, so you have to live with it.

I’m with Jim on this: When there needs to be clarity — and we all know there are calls during just about every game that need some sort of explanation — officials should proactively issue a statement, without the pool reporter or anyone having to ask.

OK, who decides when we need clarity? Great question. My answer: replay officials. Keep a pen out. Track the game. Make a note when the message from the crew is garbled.

I love the naivete of the NFL’s new rule about challenging missed calls on the field. Last I checked that was 1-for-24. I get the tribalism here and officials having officials’ backs, but knock that crap off. It does nothing for the game. The damage it does is incalcuable. Every week, fans walk away from games and wonder about why obvious penalties aren’t called and why mystery penalties are called.

The game has to move along. It has to be a three-hour windor or thereabouts. That’s the demand officials work under. It’s their A grade for “game management.”

I understand there’s going to be breakage, but clarity and a little more transparency would go a long way. But also, there are going to be missed calls and nothing is going to stop that.

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Frankly, officials amaze me every week with what they do see and call. Add some clarity and transparency, maybe fans will get it.

But I know that’s an awfully tough ask.

 

Great question and wish we would’ve had a chance to ask RB coach Derrick Foster this specifically. Or maybe we did and I don’t remember. It was a galaxy long ago named “Tuesday.”

Let’s see if we can’t walk ourselves through this. I have a theory: The RB who has the best week of practice and the most equity in the bank gets the start. From there, I believe, it is feel, it is who’s seeing the game the best and who is hitting their timing best in game action.

By that, I mean who is showing they can read the blocks and arrive at the moment they need to. So much of the running game is timing. Arrive too early, say hello to ... Tyler Linderbaum’s butt or back. Arrive too late, say hi to the DL/LB/S who’s reading run and is there to put a helmet on you.

Yeah, there’s that “equity” word that seems to drive a certain percentage of fans mad. I get it, but how else would you do it?

Do you think there are a lot of coaching staffs in the country who just say, “Hell with it, I like the cut of that kid’s gib. Here’s the ball, son, prove me right.” I don’t think there are.

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Practice is the crucible where you build trust. If you don’t show it there, you’re not going to get a chance to show it in games.

I think a better question is this: Is RBBC (running back by committee) working? I would argue yes.

In my opinion, 2,000 rushing yards is a good year for Iowa. From 2013 to 2016, the Hawkeyes hit that. In 2013, Mark Weisman led with Jordan Canzeri and the late Damon Bullock hitting for about half of Weisman’s 974 yards. The 2014 group was Weisman, Canzeri and a little bit of Akrum Wadley. Iowa’s 2,544 yards in 2015 were No. 2 to 2002 in the KF era. That group was Canzeri, Wadley and LeShun Daniels. They all clocked in between 1,000 and 500 yards. Of course, Iowa won the Big Ten West that year. In 2016, Wadley and Daniels went for more than 1,000 yards, first time in Iowa history.

RBBC did work, but Iowa’s O-line did, too.

Maybe Tyler Goodson gets all the ball at some point in his career, but I do think the collective works and this staff has the proof that it does.

 

Does Elitesportsbook.com have odds on the Cyclones making the Big 12 title game? I’d want a piece of that.

I’m gonna go “no” here.

 

That’s actually a penalty. Absolutely, it’s a rare call. I don’t have the numbers, but since every element of football is covered the the nth degree, I’m sure they’re out there. I do remember the Packers getting called for one this season.

There’s so much “cheat” in the game. I want to blame “rub” routes that are actually basketball picks. Those get called in crucial moments and when they’re painfully obvious, but teams have gotten really good at actually making the “pick” look more like a “rub.”

And, yes, cue Jerry Seinfeld. “It was a scratch!”

If I’m a DC and I’m playing Iowa, absolutely, yes I’m two-gapping and keeping my LB clean. It’s been a million years, but I think Iowa actually had a few of these called against it around the Clayborn-Klug days.

So much of the game now lies in where you can get away with stuff. This is an easy one to hide. And if you get hit, so what? It’s 5 yards. It’s worth it to keep doing it. Officials are only going to call it once. If even that.

 

Yes, great observation. Look at the available space presnap. This is why you see so many flat routes and wide receiver screens. It did feel like Iowa did more of the flat stuff last week. And you know what they say about flat stuff, it’s an extension of the running game (what did you think I was going to say?)

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Iowa isn’t going to run the ball well against Northwestern or Wisconsin. Few have. I don’t see the Hawkeyes cracking the code there this season. I do see flat routes as a way around that. With Brandon Smith gone for up to five weeks, get ready for flat routes and WR screens. I think that’s a strength for Tyrone Tracy, who’s shown a good amount of elusiveness this season.

 

Contract extension coming in 3 ... 2 ...

And why not? Minnesota football hasn’t had this much fun since that one dude named Bronko.

 

The jury is still out on Brian Ferentz the OC. He’s had streaks of brilliance and 66 yards against Wisconsin in 2017. There is an “all or nothing” to the Hawkeyes’ offense that has got to be maddening for those invested.

Everything you mention is on the table. I think Iowa now prepares for the season with injuries on the O-line in mind. I think they always did, but I think that’s at least part of the reason why you see rotations now.

Developmental program? No one knew that better than Brian Ferentz going into the job.

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Is the offense able to credibly attack? This year? The outside passing game is (was) an attack point. Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette emerged as weapons. Nico Ragaini has profile now. I think Brian has brought a level of sophistication to the passing game that lifts the Hawkeyes.

This probably isn’t a discussion if the running game weren’t slumping and if injuries hadn’t mounted on the O-line. It wasn’t that long ago that the Hawkeyes were churning out 2,000-plus yards on the ground. They’ll need to average 159.5 yards in the next six games to hit that mark (including bowl game). Well, if they do, they might sneak into Indy, but the larger deal is that they need to average that much to hit a number that gives this offense a chance to attack and sustain.

I’m down to this on Phil Parker: He has his defense. He has his system. The players are the variable. He’s veteran enough to cover for weakness, especially in the secondary, and wears the “stop the run” mantra like a forehead tattoo.

It’s the system and then the pieces and then adjusting the pieces to the system. Every year. The Iowa defense is like a can of Coke. You know you’re going to get a top 25 defense.

 

I don’t see anymore trophy games coming Iowa’s way, but let’s have some fun.

Have to go Northwestern, so trophies ...

1) Dirt — No better descriptor for this series under KF and Pat Fitzgerald. In fact, I’m sure players have thrown dirt on each other at some point.

2) Encyclopedias — Why not? They’re heavy. Trophies need to be heavy.

3) Toy light saber — Didn’t an NU O-lineman wield one of those after the Cats beat Iowa once?

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4) VHS copy of “16 Candles” — What says Chicago and upper midwest more than a John Hughes movie?

5) Beer exchange — Chicago has become the beer capital of the world. Iowa is mighty in its pursuit.

The name? “The Bus.” This a bus trip for both schools. Let’s sew that in there.

 

It would take the SEC to stop hiding behind its eight-game conference schedule. Or the Big Ten to realize the nine-game conference schedule was too bold and does kind of hamstring teams with established non-conference rivals (you know, like Iowa and Iowa State).

 

The interior was better. That wasn’t Penn State.

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Yes on part 2. TE in the backfield. Shorter drops, ball was out faster. Shorter routes. The clock was definitely turned up last week. Even the longer throws had a timing element to them.

 

Iowa’s O-line plans for injuries. That’s why the rotations.

Personnel is the biggest variable. This goes for OL and RBs. Does Iowa have too many OLs in development? If someone can’t handle it, does that leave them a legit alternative? I wrote here last week Iowa probably needs one or two juco or portal players to bolster the inside. Big opportunity for Cody Ince to solidify for 2020 in the next few weeks.

 

If I could pull out a GIF in print, it would be one with a jungle.

Scott Dochterman wrote about TEs this week in The Athletic. We’ll cover this in #oniowapod podcast, I’m pretty sure.

Thanks for listening!

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.