Friday, November 29, 2013

9 Thoughts on Iowa vs. Nebraska

My thoughts going into this Nebraska game is surprisingly confident. Nebraska is a team that needs to run the ball to be successful, and Iowa does an excellent job of shutting the running game down. Iowa's offense started to show some dynamic trends last week, even with the three interceptions. Nebraska is prone to turnovers, so as long as Iowa doesn't badly lose that turnover battle, I see them having more ways to win in this game.

1. Hitchens's interception was just a nice job of dropping into a zone and reading the quarterback's eyes. He really didn't have much of an idea of where the receiver was, but he saw where the quarterback wanted to throw and cut it off before it could get to the receiver.

2. Iowa was busting up Nebraska early on in this game as the offensive line was creating holes and Weisman was punishing defenders who came up to make the tackle.

3. I know I mentioned this last week, but Rudock's increased pocket awareness is a huge development for the Hawkeyes. He is hanging in the pocket and waiting for receivers to work their way open instead of panicking and trying to scramble. On the Hawks first touchdown drive, it got him sacked on second and goal. On third down, it gave him enough time to scan the field and find CJF crossing the field for the touchdown.

4. The defense was not threatened by Nebraska's pass attack which made things a whole lot easier for them. If Ameer Abdullah isn't getting yards on those early downs, Nebraska's offense really provides no threats and Iowa took advantage of that.

5. To start the second half, Nebraska just beat the shit out of the Hawkeyes. There is no other way to put it. They ran it right down Iowa's throat, they handled the pass rush and marched right down the field for a touchdown.

6. There was nothing that filled my heart with more joy than seeing Iowa stop a fake punt.

7. Iowa has done a great job of mixing up their defenses. Everybody has noticed that Iowa has blitzed a lot more this year, but it doesn't end there. Iowa is mixing in zone and man coverage to keep giving quarterbacks different looks. They are letting their corners hang with wide receivers down the field instead of having to decide whether to pass them off to the safeties. Last year, that caused major issues as the cornerbacks were left looking for help from safeties that never came. There is much better communication and coverage from the Hawks defensive backfield.

8. Along that line, Tanner Miller has made such a tremendous step forward from last year to this year. I'm not saying he's an All-B1G talent, but he's gone from bad to solid, and that is not an easy transition to make.

9. I was grumbling a little bit as Iowa only called Weisman runs as they tried to run out the clock, but it set up the bootleg from Beathard, which was a great call as Nebraska sold out to stop Weisman.

Overall, it was one of Iowa's best performances as the defense did not let Nebraska build any momentum, and the offense grinded out enough to keep putting points on the board. There is a decent chance of the Outback Bowl against a member of the SEC. Obviously that can mean only one thing: We Want Bama.

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