It’s the biggest cliché in football — the one about the most improvement happening between weeks one and two. They all say it. They all believe it.
But for Kirk Ferentz this week, it’s more than that.
The veteran Iowa coach has a game tape full of plays devised by new coordinators Greg Davis with the offense and Phil Parker with the defense. He has 60 minutes worth of cut-ups to determine what needs to be kept, what needs to go and what needs to be tweaked.
“It’s like starting over, to a certain extent,” quarterback James Vandenberg said of working with new ideas, one of which resulted in an 18-17 escape against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field on Saturday. “There’s going to be a lot to learn from the tape.”
How much they take from watching the Mid-American Conference Huskies lead until the last 2 minutes, 15 seconds will go a ways in determining who wins Saturday’s Big Game against Iowa State, this one at 2:30 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium (Big Ten Network).
The Cyclones won in three overtimes last season at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. The Hawkeyes have won the last four in Iowa City.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before we get to the next game,” said Hawkeyes offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. “There are a lot of areas that need work. There’s a lot of things to look at on the tape.”
Better offensive line technique, center James Ferentz said, will keep Vandenberg off his back. He was taken down six times Saturday, the most sack-filled day of his career.
“That’s unacceptable,” James Ferentz said. “If we’re going to have a successful season, we’re going to have to do a better job keeping James upright.
“The tape doesn’t lie.”
Austin Blythe and Brett Van Sloten started for the first time.
“We’re going to be more comfortable the next time we play,” Ferentz said. “We’re over the jitters.”
Second and long
Iowa dug itself a play-calling hole after averaging barely more than 3 yards on first down.
“A big issue to me was that it seemed like we kept getting into a lot of second and really longs,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Not getting yardage on first down — that makes it tough, because the next thing you know, it’s third-and-long.”
Even if Vandenberg had time to pass in the pocket, he still might not have been able to
utilize play-making wide receivers.
“We played against a veteran defense,” Vandenberg said. “We didn’t expect to throw long consistently. We tried a couple times, but it couldn’t do it.”
The reason Vandenberg’s longest pass covered just 20 yards was mostly because of inadequate pocket protection.
“That’s what we have to work on this week,” Scherff said. “We have to do a better job holding our blocks,” Scherff said.
The video will show some positive, too, like Damon Bullock 150 yards rushing, 23 of which came on a third-and-9 touchdown sprint.
And it will show that somehow, Mike Meyer pulled off a 50-yard field goal despite slipping. It was one of four he made while providing all of Iowa’s scoring for all but the last two minutes.
“I don’t know how he pulled that one off, actually,” Kirk Ferentz said. “He was slipping a bit.”
Meyer’s kick pulled Iowa within 17-12 with 9:33 left in the fourth quarter.
“That was a huge play,” Ferentz said. “Overall, there were a lot of good things. There were a lot of positives.”
LIVE CHAT ON WEDNESDAY
Randy Peterson of The Des Moines Register hosts a live chat each Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. on HawkCentral.com. Join the discussion that will focus on Saturday’s Big Game.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football