Iowa Football

Iowa football mailbag: How will playing time for receivers be sorted out?

Deontae Craig, improving the running game and more in the #oniowapod mailbag

Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Oliver Martin (5) walks with a group of teammates at practice during Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Oliver Martin (5) walks with a group of teammates at practice during Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

OK, the hashtags were fun, but Twitter gave me an even better idea.

Hey guy, you already ask for Twitter questions on the podcast using the #oniowapod hashtag, why don’t you, you know, answer some mailbag questions out of that?

I owe that Twitter person a 30-pack of Hamm’s.

No more #MusterOneUp mailbag. #PaintedTower lasted a year, longer than NBC’s show “Misfits of Science.” So, the #oniowapod mailbag.

Don’t get eliminated!

 

Hey, let’s start 2019 with some recruiting chatter.

You already like Deontae Craig. You like that he’s a 6-3, 235-pound defensive end (Culver, Ind., Academy). You like that Rivals has him as its highest 3-star among weakside defensive end prospects. You really like that he picked the Hawkeyes over offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Michigan.

As far as Craig fits in the 2020 class? Whoa, the Hawkeyes have seven defensive ends among their 22 current commitments for 2020. You want to say Craig fits the prototype, but these bodies are all over the map, from Lena (Ill.)-Winslow’s Isaiah Bruce at 6-2, 265 to Lukas Van Ness (Barrington, Ill.) and Yayha Black (Marshall, Minn.) at 6-5.

The number of DE recruits is flexible. Mason Richman (Stillwell, Kan.) is listed as a DE, but his Iowa visit photo has him wearing No. 78 and the HawkeyeReport.com story on his commitment flat says he’ll be an O-lineman at Iowa.

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Craig told HawkeyeReport this: “I chose Iowa because of the stability of the coaching staff and how well they develop their players.”

You’re starting to hear a lot of recruits mention the stability and the development. These families know Kirk Ferentz just turned 64 and they still mention “stability” like this. Wonder how Iowa is officially handing the Ferentz age question when it comes up? Maybe it doesn’t come up.

 

Kurt, everything you said in your tweet makes Craig a fit at Iowa. Thanks for the scouting report. Seriously.

Here’s Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt on Craig’s film: “It is interesting that Indiana was perceived to be the odds-on favorite to land Craig in the final few weeks before his decision and one reason was the Hoosiers had put the possibility on the table of Craig playing both football and basketball. This choice suggests Craig’s focus is fully on football and his hoop dreams are being put to bed.”

 

 

My opinion on the portal is incomplete. On one hand, love that the players have more power. That was long overdue. Still, long way to go in the transfer struggle. I think that’s the word, right? It’s a struggle. It’s Andy Dufresne stuck in the sewer pipe and being overcome by the fumes.

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When you’re reading or following and grooving with whatever your sports team is, something always comes along that makes you say, “This [bleep] again?” In college football right now, that’s the transfer process. Well, among other things.

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta is on the transfer committee and has a vote. I disagree with him on graduate transfers, but I’m totally with him on a uniform process. Will there be lawsuits? I’d hate to know how many college sports lawsuits are currently under process right now. Of course there are going to be lawsuits.

Every move now comes with the question, “Who’s going to jump in the portal?” With Martin, it totally remains to be seen. I think the older players are, generally, the less they transfer. I also think once the portal stats are tallied, people are going to realize it didn’t solve everyone’s problems. You do basically relinquish your spot, the thing you worked so hard for, on the team you’re leaving. But if you enter the portal, you’re trying to remedy that. I’m not sure everyone is finding what they’re looking for.

Another element I like is the fact that media and fans are starting to get portal news and kind of just shrug. It’s become a transaction. Of course, there are players that will make everyone lose their minds, but that hasn’t happened yet and so let’s not worry about it.

Martin playing time in 2019? I didn’t get a ton of info on this, but the little I did told me Iowa welcomed him with open arms. The Iowa staff has been consistent in their “Heck yes, we wanted him.”

“Yeah, he’s definitely in our plan to play him, and he would be on the travel team if we were traveling,” Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “Yeah, if we get the green light, he’ll be in there playing at some point, absolutely.”

I’ll go O/U at three receptions and five targets against Miami (Ohio).

 

This is where I’d paste Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s kick return numbers from last year. Punt returner? Maybe, but Iowa seems to be settled on Nico Ragaini.

Where on the field might we see Martin line up? When Martin arrived, QB Nate Stanley said he practiced in the slot and at the X. Martin’s value might be versatility. I’d put the O/U on snaps 400 (only four Iowa wideouts had more than 100 snaps in 2019).

 

 

The conversation stopper is exchanges. If reporters were able to get with Brian Ferentz more, it’d be more about football than the periphery and I think we’d all enjoy the heck out of that. In one of these deals last year, the topic of the read option came up. Ferentz bristled at the exchanges. So, scratch off an actual read option, but remember they do keep the look to try to freeze an edge defender.

Iowa does zone scheme, but it also does gap. Let’s not chase that tail.

I think a little misdirection would go a long way. Last year, it felt to me opposing defenses fired on one look with the zones. I remember a long time ago, I thought defenses were simply reading the QB’s hips. Closed hips meant handoff and it was fire off the line of scrimmage.

Since, I give Iowa a lot more credit for self scouting. That became apparent to me after Iowa State 2017, when Brian Ferentz mixed things so well and ran such a balanced passing attack that Iowa was essentially unpredictable.

I’d love to see some misdirection or counter, but that’s the easy answer. I think Iowa can do some things with timing and tempo. It’s all about creating space. There are ways to do that and still show the same play, same look if you can meter the timing and tempo.

 

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OK, for everyone who doesn’t know who Dub Maddox is, he’s a playcalling expert or guru or whatever you want to call it. His R4 offensive system is built for coaches to be able to streamline their thoughts on game planning and play calling.

A lot of it is about sifting information and creating a productive playcalling environment and a game plan.

The concepts in the passing game deal with where the space is. For us (fans, media, people who are interested but who are not college football players), draw a line down field through the center. Draw a line down field through the tight ends. Draw a line at the linebackers. That grids out where your space should be.

Because of the nature of space and where the ball is snapped, defenses can’t defend all space. The R4 says there are 15 attack areas and the defense can only defend 11 of them. The quarterback should see the four potential attack spaces in presnap.

I think you maybe could see changes where the ball goes, not which receiver so much as the space Iowa wants to attack.

Highly recommend checking out those videos. One takeaway from me, I feel like I can understand corners. Is a corner a “crash” corner (does he play man or bump and run)? Or is he a “cushion” corner (does he play off the receiver and mirror)?

The other big one was space. Really, it is THE element in football.

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I could write about this all day. Thank you for this one, @iahawk72. You are tuned in. Hey, let me know what your takeaways were.

 

 

I don’t gamble regularly. It’s not against my religion or anything, I just saw the movie “Lost in America.” Albert Brooks is married to Julie Hagerty. They drop out of society with something like $800,000. The “Nest Egg.” They buy an RV and hit the road.

They get to Vegas. Julie Hagerty blows it all on roullette. The movie ends with them going back to work.

It was still funny. I am intrigued by sports book, but it’s not ethical, in my mind, to gamble on the thing that I cover. So, put me down for $50 on Team USA vs. Canada in curling. I might do stupid stuff like that.

My wife won’t be so understanding if I lose the nest egg.

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

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