IOWA CITY, Ia. - Hawkeye Insider publisher Rob Howe shares his thoughts and observations from Saturday at Kinnick:
THE LINE IS FINE: I really liked what I saw from the Iowa defensive line. Granted, they weren't playing the Bill Walsh 49ers, but they got consistent pressure with four guys, something that had alluded them through the first three games.
For the first time in the Coach Kirk Ferentz Era that I can remember, Iowa is using a rotation on its defensive front. I think it's a great idea and should keep everyone fresh.
In Saturday's 45-0 demolition of Ball State, the Hawkeyes opened the game with Adrian Clayborn, Karl Klug, Christian Ballard and Broderick Binns. That group started all the games last season and played most of the snaps.
Binns started for the first time this season after missing the first game for a disciplinary suspension. Mike Daniels stepped in for him during the opener, pushing Ballard out to end. Daniels' growth in the last year or so forced the coaches' hand.
Iowa brought Daniels in for Binns on its second defensive series Saturday. Binns went to the bench with Ballard sliding outside. On the third series, Binns returned and Ballard went out. On the fourth drive, Klug took a break and Daniels and Ballard were inside. Clayborn seemed to be the only one not being removed.
The Hawkeye coaches also loosened things up for Clayborn on Saturday. The moved him inside on some plays with Klug shifting to end. Opponents had been double teaming and chipping the all-American with backs.
I really like how Iowa countered the game plans designed to neutralize Clayborn. I like the rotation. Daniels deserves to play as evidenced by a national award he won on Sunday.
RECEIVER DEPTH: With Marvin McNutt being dinged up in the first half on Saturday, it was nice to see Keenan Davis and Paul Chaney step up in reserve roles. Fans have asked about both on our boards quite a bit this season.
We all thought Iowa had some quality depth at receiver this season. Maybe this will lead to the coaches using a larger rotation.
I also like that Iowa has used more three-receiver sets the last game and a half when Arizona and Ball State stacked the box.
KICKING GAME: I've written about it on the site and talked about it on radio shows since the spring. I'm concerned with the place kicking game.
Trent Mossbrucker had an extra point blocked against Arizona for his only miss of the year. He hadn't tried a field goal.
Yet, true freshman walk-on Mike Meyer was used on Saturday. The Dubuque native had been kicking off. I thought he looked like the best kicker at Kids Day.
Daniel Murray kicked last season with Mossbrucker red shirting. Murray hasn't been out of the lineup with a hip injury this year but was losing grip on the job during camp when he was healthy.
Field goals are going to be important in league play. I'm worried.
-After splitting time with starter Nolan MacMillan last week, Adam Gettis didn't play in the first half on Saturday. The junior guard replaced Julian Vandervelde after the game was out of hand. Maybe the ankle is bothering him again.
-Chaney also replaced Sandeman at punt returner in the second half. He looked more comfortable than when he had opportunities last season. Also saw Micah Hyde returning some punts in the pregame. Sandeman and Chaney are done after this season.
-Troy Johnson stepped in at MLB when Jeff Tarpinian received a stinger. Some onlookers felt true freshman James Morris might step in there with Bruce Davis going down to injury for the season. I think Johnson is the back-up at the middle and leo spots, and a damn good one.
-I'm interested to see what happens with Anthony Hitchens going forward this week. The coaches pulled his red shirt in Week 4 and played him on kick coverage twice late in the game. He was moved from safety to running back last week.
It just seemed odd that he wasn't used earlier on kick coverage if the coaches thought he could contribute there. I know they need a safety net at RB, but I doubt he sees action there outside of maybe mop-up duty.
-There are a lot of guys that contribute to the team and stay behind the scenes for much of there careers but contribute a lot to the team. Jonathan Gimm might be headed in that direction.