Monday Morning Quarterback with Chuck Hartlieb

One of the most popular interview features Hawkeyenation.com has ever run was our 'Monday Morning Quarterback' feature with former Hawkeye All-American Chuck Hartlieb. His insight and analysis on Iowa football is second to none. We are pleased to announce that Hartlieb is back with Hawkeyenation.com, starting with this PREMIUM PREVIEW. This item will be for our subscribers from now on, but we want everyone to get a taste of what to expect from this series.

HN: Chuck's opening comments on the Michigan game

CH: "In talking with you last week, I made the comparison to a heavyweight championship fight,, and I really think it turned out that way. Early on in this game, the first three or four rounds if you will, Michigan came out with their best flurry of punches possible. We took it hard and definitely lost the first couple of rounds."

"But the style of coach Ferentz is a well-conditioned team, they are going to play tough as nails and they are going to play four quarters. That has really been the theme in the Ferentz era. I thought it was a classic case of that on Saturday. We took some punches early, but when it really counted towards the 2nd half of that fight, there was really no doubt that we were beating up those guys on the line and in all phases of the game in the second half."

"So I think that mentality is really going to be what makes this a really special year."

HN: Chuck, it is amazing to hear that, what with so many losses to graduation from last year, that our offensive line can still dictate the tempo in the fourth quarter and those guys up front are not a ‘who's who' group. This was the third game in a row vs. Michigan where Iowa was the more physically dominant team, even with all of their blue chips.

CH: "We have talked before about my feeling on ‘blue chippers' and the five-star rated kids coming out of high school. I think coach Ferentz has been pretty consistent that he wants great athletes, kids with big hearts and good kids to come into the program, and that is what he has done. Specifically the Michigan's, and the other high-powered` outfits. Penn State is a great example. They just try to get the high flyers and the early commits, but those guys have a similar ratio of not turning out than anyone else."

"The style of this team, the Roth's, the Greenway's and the Gallery's. These guys have huge hearts and when it comes to the fourth quarter of these games, that is when you want the kids like Iowa has on your side of the ball, not on the other side."

HN: It is easier to recruit at a Michigan or a Penn State and to take the early commitments than it is at Iowa. When you are Iowa, you have to evaluate talent better, and maybe do a better job of player development and it seems that is what they are doing.

CH: "I agree completely. The successful coaching staffs in the NCAA now have to come down to talent evaluation of high school seniors as much as any other thing they do. Over the last two or three years, I think that coach Ferentz and his staff have done a great job of doing that."

"Coach Ferentz has been around the block enough to know that it is not the USA Today All-Americans that you necessarily want or need to have, and that is one of the most enjoyable factors of this team, is that it is a cross section of recruiting: the Bob Sanders, who were not heavily recruited, to the Fred Russell's, who Michigan did offer, and then the diamonds in the rough. I think that this will be the hallmark of Coach Ferentz's teams going into the future."

HN: How good is this Iowa team? It is a different year than 2002, but they have the same record at the same point of the season with a win against Michigan in their belts already

CH: "Last year, unique does not even describe last year. It was the type of season that you might not see during the course of your lifetime. So to compare that team to this team, it is not that relevant."

"But this team has a lot of talent, and it compares favorably, talent-wise, probably with all of the other top 20 teams out there, and yet, it will not match up with the other teams the way that last year's team did. But it does not have to. I think Iowa fans are starting to realize that parity is here throughout the Big Ten and the country. And Iowa has the type of talent that it takes to put up a big number; an eight, nine or a ten win season. It has been an education for me, too."

"Sure, we have four new starters on the offensive line, sure we have some new guys in the defensive backfield, but for the most part we have a great core back. The table is set now for a Big Ten Championship run."

"It is hard to believe, but the thing that really stands out to me is Chris Doyle. I think that is the guy that you can give the MVP label to. It really stands out to me at how strong these guys are in the 2nd half. They really seem to not miss a step both mentally and physically. I really saw Michigan put their tail between their legs as the game went on. I think that could be a theme throughout the year."

CH: "On another note, I have read and heard some feedback on the first quarter of the last couple of games, on how Iowa has supposedly come out and looked flat on defense. I tend to take a different viewpoint there. We are a team that has only three or four packages. We are not the hardest team to prepare for. Fine, that is our style. When they (the opponent) know what they are going to line up against, you are going to get their best punches in the first few series. You are going to see some things, formation wise and scheme wise that you have not seen on film. That happened in the Michigan State game and it happened on Saturday. That is fine."

"I don't think that frustrates the Hawkeyes too much. I think they think ‘Alright, that is the best that they have. Let's make some adjustments, let's understand what they are trying to do and let's adjust properly'. I think it has been amazing in the final three quarters at how they have made those adjustments, how they have taken the best shot of the defense and how they have shut them down."

"I don't think that it is a lack of emotion or a lack or preparation. I think we have just seen some good punches early in these last two games and we suffered a bit, but these guys are ready to play and hopefully we can start holding teams to field goals instead of touchdowns, but lethargy is not an issue."

HN: Chuck, now flip that over and talk about how the offense started the game. That was pretty conservative.

CH: "That one was a bit more puzzling to me. You and I do not have the advantage of seeing every film, we don't have the advantage of seeing the tendencies that we have created on offense during the course of the season. Maybe it was an issue where they felt that Michigan was going to expect play action right off the bat. I guess I will give them the benefit of the doubt because we got the ‘W', but I still see every defense is really going to focus on taking Fred Russell out of the game early and thus would think that we might put the ball in the air."

"Those first few series puzzled me. I did not see the rationale there, but again, those guys are the ones that see the entire package and know what they are capable of and they have to take the shots when they want to."

(On the booing)

CH: "I still hear some people that think they may have been booing Chandler or the players, but I don't think that is the case. I think some fans may have frustrated with the play calling, and I am sure that Coach O'Keefe would rather have all of that come down on him and he shield the players, because I don't think that stuff bothers him at all. He just wants to do what is best for the team."

CH: "There were a few other things that I want to touch on. I thought that a significant development on Saturday was Calvin Davis. I was amazed at the consistency of his performance. I can't see it all on TV, and I was not there unfortunately, but it looked like he was getting off the line well, made some big catches, ran some good routes and gained a lot of confidence."

"Now you have a guy that will be with you for another three years after this. What that does for the passing game to have another kid step up in huge. Now you go into the 2nd half of the season and Chandler can feel comfortable with one more guy. Hopefully Hinkel and Brown can come back and they have confidence in Ochoa, but now it's third and 10 and their key guy off of a defensive read is Calvin Davis; I can't tell you how much this game means to Chandler's mind set that he has had the guy step up for him already, versus some freshmen where you are just guessing."

"I think that was a big part of the Michigan State game was that you just don't know if those freshmen are going to do the right things in the key situations. To be able to have one of the guys step up is a huge deal for the offense."

HN: I am not sure if you were able to see this on TV, but I think Chandler played better than his numbers would indicate. Michigan was disguising what they were doing on defense every time, bringing up safeties, dropping backers, bringing up CB's, etc

CH: "The issue with disguising defenses is just as much to confuse the wide receivers as it is the quarterback. Receivers have to make adjustments to their routes based on the type of coverage they are getting on the corners, etc. I think that disguising can have an impact on the effectiveness of the receivers down the field."

"I still feel that Michigan does the same things they have done over the last 10 or 20 years. Typically, you have a read at the snap of the free or strong safety and they are going to show you what you have to do. I think Chandler at the snap does a good job of recognizing that. Even though they might be moving a lot back there, I think they can be pretty vanilla in their packages. But your point is well taken, because that stuff impacts the tight end and the two receivers that had not had to deal with that stuff a lot. I think the confusion can set in on your receivers as much as the quarterback. But you are right in that Chandler picks that stuff up well."

"I would have liked to have asked him in the post game, on that touchdown pass to Davis, if that was a designed play, or if he truly had the eyes to see that everyone was jumping the flat route, because they brought two or three guys out in the route out in the flat and Davis was wide open on the slant. So I don't know if it was predetermined or not. It could have been. If it wasn't, that might have been the play of the game, because a typical quarterback is going to take the first read and throw it out in the flat. His read to Davis was outstanding."

(Chandler pump faked the out and then hit Davis)

HN: Let's talk bye week and Ohio State

CH: "This extra week is a big deal. I think to be more specific about it, coaches can compare in their offices for hours upon hours. But they know what is most critical is the two hours of practice time during the week. Really, you only have three good practices during game week and to get six, that allows you to do a couple of things."

"One, you get to work on some things that need to be worked on that get overlooked in preparation during the practice week. We have that situation at a number of positions. The offensive line can do some retooling now; the receivers can get more snaps and recognize things. Defensively, Norm can bring in another package or two if he wants to. So this bye week is huge."

"The second thing that is nice about it, is that the coaches will probably do a tremendous analysis of their tendencies; formations, reaction on offense, how their packages react to a certain way on defense, etc. That is what an extra week does for you. You can break up your tendencies. It allows you to review yourself as an Ohio State defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator. They get to fine tune the team for this game, which may be their toughest challenge for the rest of the year."

"This is an unbelievable advantage to have two weeks to go in there. And then having the Buckeyes having to go into Madison and play this week, that sets up really, really well for Iowa."

"I think this year could be reminiscent of the 1991 Big Ten season. I think that two losses could see a two or three-way tie. I can't see Ohio State finishing up with just one loss and it is tough to see Iowa winning out from here, either. If you see OSU with two and Iowa with two, maybe Michigan gets two. Purdue plays at Michigan, at Ohio State and at Wisconsin."


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