IOWA: Two Days and Counting

Indiana has beaten Iowa in each of the past two seasons, but there's still plenty for Coach Bill Lynch's team and staff to be concerned about for this weekend's match-up. What are the biggest issues facing the Hoosiers? continues its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up and answers that question…

Can Indiana's offense mount sustained drives? – Points haven't been easy to come by for Iowa's foes this season, and big plays have been even more rare. In six games Iowa has given up only four plays of more than 30 yards, with all of those coming through the air. None of those four pass plays wound up going for a touchdown, and the longest scoring pass Iowa's defense has surrendered is a 15-yarder two weeks ago against Northwestern.

"They don't give up big plays, they're very tough to run on and, as a result of not giving up big plays, they don't give up a lot of points," IU Coach Bill Lynch said.

Indiana, meanwhile, hasn't been the best at putting together long drives. Its last three touchdowns have all come on 70-plus yard scores from Marcus Thipgen (two passes, one run), and one has to go back to the Murray State contest in week two to find a scoring drive of 10 plays or more. That was a 13-play, 90-yard touchdown march led by Ben Chappell, and it's one of only three 10-plus play drives Indiana has had this season.

Why have the Hoosiers struggled sustaining drives? The absence of James Hardy has been big, as Kellen Lewis hasn't found a reliable pass catching target to throw to on third downs. They're also not the best at running the ball in short-yardage situations. While IU is a perfect 3-for-3 on the season when it runs the ball on 3rd-and-1, it's only 3-for-6 when it runs the ball on 3rd-and-2s.

Iowa won't make it any easier to run the ball this weekend, so IU will need to be able to move the chains through the air with sharp routes and well timed passes from Kellen Lewis and/or Ben Chappell.

"You have to be patient and you have to execute," Lynch said. "When they play zone the zones are pretty tight so your timing has to be good. The holes close pretty quickly with Iowa."

Will the Hoosiers' emphasis on Shonn Greene free up Rick Stanzi to have a big game – Indiana's coaches and players don't hide the fact that containing Hawkeye tailback Shonn Greene is the defense's No. 1 priority this weekend. Greene is the second-leading runner in the Big Ten and has proven to be a load for everyone on the Hawkeyes' scheduled to deal with.

"They do a great job with the run game," safety Nick Polk said. "Coach put an emphasis all year that we want to stop the run first. Hopefully we can make them one-dimensional and get them in some third and longs where they have to make plays with the quarterback that might not have as much experience."

That quarterback is sophomore Ricky Stanzi, a relatively unproven signal caller who is 2-2 as a starter. Stanzi has started both Big Ten games and is completing nearly 70 percent of his throws and is averaging 198 yards/game in those two contests, but he's proven unable to lead the Hawkeyes to potential game-winning drives in the final minutes against either foe.

The question is whether or not IU's emphasis on Greene will free up Stanzi to have a breakout game. Two weeks ago Indiana went into the match-up against Michigan State with a similar stop-the-run philosophy, and Spartan quarterback Brian Hoyer responded with his best game his season. The Hoosiers want to try to make Stanzi beat them, but they also don't want to get beat by the big play.

"He's a really good play action passer," Polk said of Stanzi. "He stands backing the pocket, he has a great pocket presence, he gets the ball out to his receiver and does his job."

What's coming up:
On Monday - Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Numbers to Note
On Wednesday - Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction Top Stories