Through two weeks it appears Iowa's passing numbers are up compared to the typical running game people are used to from the Hawkeyes. What has led to the early shift and should Iowa State expect to see a more typical power offense come Saturday afternoon?
Rob Howe: Several factors have played into Iowa's reliance on the pass over the run through two games, not the least of which was being down 10 points with less than six minutes to play last week against Ball State. Additionally, Ball State and Northern Iowa game planned to slow the run and force the Hawkeyes to beat them with the pass. Lastly, it's a combination of Iowa's ineffectiveness resulting from inconsistent play by the offensive line, a season-ending injury to starting fullback Adam Cox and spreading the ball out too much among five running backs.
Whether left tackle Brandon Scherff plays Saturday has seemed to be back and forth, but there's another question: If Scherff doesn't play, how is the offense affected, and how does redshirt freshman Ike Boettger fill the void?
RH: Scherff is Iowa's best player. Boettger did well in his brief time last week and has a chance to be Iowa's next standout left tackle. But to ask him to do it over a full game as a redshirt freshman who was playing tight end a year ago at this time might be too much. When the Hawkeye offense got going last week, it did so behind Scherff. His absence would be immense.
For the Iowa defense, the defensive line appears to be the strongpoint. How has the more youthful linebacker unit performed early on?
RH: UNI exposed the Iowa linebackers by isolating them on super back David Johnson. It was a well-conceived and executed game plan. Against Ball State, the first-year starter at quarterback lacked the tools to pressure the second level. In both games, they have been good against the run.
If Iowa State wants to win at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, it needs to ______?
RH: As we touched on in the previous question, attack the Iowa linebackers and also its secondary. The Hawkeyes are susceptible to the big play because of inexperience hind their front. To do that, the ISU offensive line will have to hold up. Iowa's D-Line has been the best unit on the team. Defensively, the Cyclones could benefit from employing the approach taken by Iowa's first two opponents — make the Hawkeyes put together long drives. They've struggled in the red zone and the field goal kicking has been the worst aspect of the team to date.