Iowa Football

Iowa football Stat Pak: The Hawkeyes take a shot with Schott

The walk-on from North Linn got the call up after injury and stood strong in his first big time as a Hawkeye

IOWA CITY — Iowa is the fan base that tracks, loves and appreciates its offensive linemen.

How much so? When the Hawkeyes finished off an undefeated Big Ten season with a victory over Minnesota at the Metrodome in 2002, Iowa fans celebrated by carrying a) the coach, b) the quarterback or c) offensive linemen?

This question doesn’t come up if the answer isn’t c. That’s how that works.

So, when left offensive tackle Alaric Jackson went down in the second series of the No. 20 Hawkeyes’ 38-14 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium, it got everyone’s attention.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t have a definitive answer on Jackson’s health late Saturday night.

“We don’t know right now what the extent of it is,” Ferentz said. “There’s no sense worrying about it right now. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

On the “Sunday Conversaton with Kirk Ferentz” on hawkeyesports.com, Ferentz said it didn’t look like surgery was needed, but that Jackson may miss a few weeks.

Junior Tristan Wirfs believes his tackle partner will be back for Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Rutgers (1-0), but he’s also not an MRI machine.

Jackson, a three-year starter and all-Big Ten performer in 2018, will be filed into “day-to-day” and that’s where Iowa (1-0) will hope his prognosis stays.

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Beyond that, in the first quarter of the opener, Kinnick was silent with Jackson on the turf. Talk about “indispensable players,” the left tackle protects the quarterback’s blindside and Jackson is exceedingly good at it.

Senior Levi Paulsen, the all-time journeyman tackle for the Hawkeyes, moved from right guard to right tackle, a position he’s played a few times in his career when injury has struck. Wirfs moved to left tackle.

The guy who came in and played right guard was Kyler Schott. He’s a 6-2, 290-pound walk-on sophomore who attended North Linn High School and lives in Coggon. It’s OK if you didn’t know him. He’s a walk-on offensive lineman and a guard to boot. That is the definition of college football anonymity.

His teammates sure know him. And you know what? They absolutely love him.

“We always call him Jack Black because when he first got here, his beard was trimmed, he had shorter hair and he looked just like Jack Black,” Wirfs said. “I think that’s his personality. He’s a real funny guy, down to earth, can talk to anybody. I love him.”

Two Hawkeye people you are incredibly familiar with called Schott his nickname.

“They moved one of the Paulsens out and they put ‘Shooter’ in there,” defensive end A.J. Epenesa said. “Shooter? He’s about 6-foot, 6-1 and maybe 6-2 on a good day. Long hair. Looks good. A big burly beard. One of my best friends on the team.

“Typical Iowa guy, a walk-on who works hard. Strong, really strong. Put him on an incline bench and see what he can put up.”

Ferentz noticed.

“Shooter was in there getting some reps,” Ferentz said.

A couple of things about Schott: He grew up with a pair of older brothers (Jordan and Brendan) who were athletes at North Linn (Brendan is a teacher at the school and is head wrestling coach). His uncle is Curt Ritchie, longtime football coach at Williamsburg.

Schott was the North Linn ball boy when his brothers played at North Linn.

“Getting to play next to him was pretty special,” said Wirfs, a Mount Vernon prep who grew up wrestling with Schott at kids meets. “I’m getting all giddy (being able to talk about this). We do everything together. Worked together a lot this summer.”

Wirfs and Schott will still wrestle on occasion.

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Ferentz said the goal was to play a lot of bodies on the O-line, but obviously without Jackson’s injury. If you count the last series, which was deep in Iowa territory with a 38-14 lead and just a minute on the clock, the Hawkeyes played six combinations of O-linemen. Wirfs moved to left tackle and played it without a blip. Sophomore Mark Kallenberger saw time at left tackle. Freshmen Cody Ince and Justin Britt saw time at the guard positions in the second half.

And, oh yeah, that was center Tyler Linderbaum’s first start at center.

Yes, the Hawkeyes will face better defenses than the RedHawks from the Mid-American Conference. But that was an offense Saturday night that put up 465 total yards, rushed for 213 yards and averaged 5.2 yards on 41 carries.

The Hawkeyes will win 100 percent of the games they average 5.2 yards on 41 carries.

“Some young faces, but I thought overall those guys played well,” Ferentz said.

The Obs (short for “observations”)

Offense

— OK, the six OL combos:

Starters (left to right): Jackson, Landan Paulsen, Tyler Linderbaum, Levi Paulsen and Wirfs

After Jackson’s injury: Wirfs, Landan, Linderbaum, Kyler Schott and Levi

No. 3: Redshirt freshman Cody Ince in for Landan. This was planned. The Iowa staff wanted young players to log some snaps.

No. 4: Mark Kallenberger, Landan, Linderbaum, Justin Britt, Wirfs

No. 5: Kallenberger, Ince, Linderbaum, Schott, Wirfs

No. 6: Kallenberger, Ince, Jeff Jenkins, Britt and Jack Plumb

Jackson had 15 snaps before his injury. Schott played 53, same with Levi Paulsen. Landan Paulsen played 50. Wirfs and Linderbaum played 71 snaps and they were mostly very impressive.

Linderbaum and Ince threw key blocks on Mekhi Sargent’s 41-yard screen pass. Re-watch the game. Tell yourself that was Linderbaum’s first game at center. And then go to your mirror and look at the face of disbelief.

— When QBs play well, their pass efficiency is high. Here’s your read on pass efficiency: The higher the better; who cares how it’s computed.

QB Nate Stanley’s 179.3 was his highest in 11 games (191 vs. UNI last year). His 70 percent completion percentage was his highest since that same game (82 percent).

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Consider that Stanley was behind a makeshift OL. Now, go ahead and give your QB some credit. And your offensive coordinator. There wasn’t a lot of panic.

Stanley’s worst play might’ve been his intentional grounding on the third series. He did a spin move and kind of lost track of downfield.

Stanley completed 21 of 30 for 252 yards and three TDs. On third down, he completed 5 of 6 with four of those going for first downs.

— Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz hinted a few weeks ago that Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent would be on the field at the same time. They did that four times. On one snap, Sargent slipped into the slot.

“The purpose of Toren and I being in the game together is to get our playmakers out there,” Sargent said. “There are going to be some games where we need to make plays.”

— Sargent led Iowa in rushing (91) and receiving (65). He was targeted five times in the passing game and connected with four for 65 yards, including the 41-yard screen that set up a TD.

Your “Hey, that’s the Patriots” moment of the night was Sargent in the passing game.

Defense

— The Hawkeyes ran just 10 snaps of 4-2-5, so it was more personnel sub package than “DNA” at least against the RedHawks, who hung out in 11 personnel (one back, one TE) most of the night.

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Cash defensive back D.J. Johnson was solid, but had a teachable moment on a third-and-1 from Iowa’s 21. Miami ran a nice play-action pass and Johnson bit on the fake (it being third-and-1 and all). Miami QB Brett Gabbert hit Luke Mayock for a 20-yard gain to Iowa’s 1.

After that, it was just three more cash personnels for the defense.

— The Speed Rush Unit (we’re going with SRU here) was Epenesa, former linebacker Amani Jones at ends; end Chauncey Golston slides into tackle with Daviyon Nixon.

Jones had a sack. Nixon had a pressure.

— Does the Iowa staff get into moving Epenesa around? He faced a back or tight end and an OT and sometimes all three. Some teams move their best pass rusher around, seeking to exploit a matchup. Iowa doesn’t do that, or generally has not.

Epenesa was frustrated, but his presence allowed Jones his free rush to a sack.

— Defensive coordinator Phil Parker stuck with safety Kaevon Merriweather. He’s a sophomore in his first start. He got picked on a little bit, but showed closing speed and tackling. He was in position to make plays. If he tracks the ball a little better, he makes those plays.

The Numbers Game

Touchdowns in the red zone (7s are > 3s)

Iowa — 5 of 6

Miami — 2 of 2

Tracking the Hawkeyes: Week 1 vs. Miami — 5 of 6 (off), 2 of 2 (def)

The takeaway: Fantastic offensively. The only miss ended in a field goal. Stanley passed for three TDs (almost four, give former Hawkeye Manny Rugamba credit for a great play on Brandon Smith’s first fade attempt) and the Hawkeyes rushed for two. Defensively? During the broadcast, the crew kept discussing how Phil Parker was nervous about eye discipline in the young secondary. That showed up in both Miami TDs. Those are correctable mistakes.

Three and outs forced by the defense (Getting off the field)

Iowa — 3

Miami — 1

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Tracking the Hawkeyes: Week 1 vs. Miami — 3 (def), 1 (off)

The takeaway: You noticed that Miami did put together two 10-play drives and those ended in TDs. Next longest drive was eight plays. Everything else was corralled. Iowa had two 13-play and two nine-play drives. The Hawkeyes also won TOP by almost 12 minutes. That’s almost a quarter. That’s game control.

Efficiency

(50% of needed yards on first down, 70% of needed yards on second down, or 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down)

(Measure of successful plays and moving the sticks)

Iowa — 56 percent (40 successful plays out of 71 total)

Miami — 33 percent (17 of 52)

Tracking the Hawkeyes: Week 1 vs. Miami — 56 percent (off), 33 (def)

The takeaway: 50 percent is outstanding. Iowa put up a lot of numbers in this game that would win them games a lot of weeks. The Hawkeyes had an impressive 23 efficient plays in the second half. A lot of drives started with an efficient first-down rush. Iowa really stayed ahead of the chains. The Hawkeyes pulled away after halftime. Miami generated just four efficients in the third.

Explosive plays

(Runs of 12-plus yards; passes of 16-plus)

(Can your team run faster and execute better than the other team?)

Iowa — 10 (5 passes, 5 runs)

Miami — 4 (4 passes)

Tracking the Hawkeyes: Week 1 vs. Miami — 10 (off), 4 (def)

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The takeaway: Stanley had runs of 16 and 15 yards. Those were career highs and he finished with a career-high 20 yards (35 without the sack). Smith-Marsette had a pair of explosives, including a 16-yard reverse to set up a TD. The RBs accounted for three explosives, including the 41-yard screen to Sargent. TE Shaun Beyer made a great play on a seam route for an 18-yarder, and new slot receivers Nico Ragaini (45-yard reception) and Tyrone Tracy (22-yarder) each put up an explosive.

Iowa operated extremely well in 11 personnel (one back, one TE) and in 11 shotgun, including successful run plays out of shotgun and with three wide receivers. That was different.

Halftime adjustments

(General idea of how busy the whiteboard is)

IowaFirst half: 34 plays for 202 yards and 5.9 yards per play.

Second half: 37 plays for 263 yards and 7.1 yards per play.

MiamiFirst half: 25 plays and 140 yards for 5.6 per play.

Second half: 27 plays and 105 yards for 3.8 per play.

The takeaway: Fast start and stayed ahead of the chains for the most part. Iowa’s offense operated with a level of comfort that was impressive considering six OL combos. The defense was dominant in the second half.

Magic Points (scores inside of two minutes)

Iowa — 0

Miami — 0

Tracking the Hawkeyes: Week 1 vs. Miami — 0 (off), 0 (def)

The takeaway: Didn’t need any. That’s what efficiency will do for you.

Personnel

Offense

11 (one RB, one TE) — rush: 6 for 32 yards; pass: 0 for 1

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11 shotgun (one RB, one TE, shotgun snap) — rush: 7 for 53; pass: 12 of 18 for 179 yards and two TDs

12 (one RB, two TE) — rush: 3 for 9 yards; pass: 3 of 4 for 35 yards (drew PI)

21 (two RB, one TE) — rush: 11 for 79; pass: 5 of 5 for 32 yards

20 (no RB, two TE) — rush: 1 for 7; pass 0 for 1

22 (two RB, two TE) — rush: 7 for 28; pass: 1 of 2 for 5 yards

23 (two RB, three TE) — rush 2 for 4 yards and two TDs

Defense

4-2-5 — 10 times

Blitz — Maybe 5

Iowa also ran a speed rush defensive line maybe five times. There was one package that had Barrington Wade in at linebacker.

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

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