Inside the Numbers

It's time for HawkeyeNation.com's weekly look at Iowa football from a statistical point of view with the latest installment of ‘Inside the Numbers'. This week, we look at how well Iowa is doing compared to other teams across the nation on offense and defense, a quick look at one huge statistical advantage that Iowa has over its next two opponents and we have the injury list from the 2003 season. I hope you have enough time to sort through that littany.

THERE'S A ROOSTER IN THE HEN HOUSE

Penn State is up next for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nittany Lions rank 110th out of 117 teams in D1 this year against the run. They are allowing 217.0 rushing yards per game this year, which is why they are 0-3 in Big Ten play.

PSU could not be coming onto the schedule at a better time for Iowa, even though the Nittany Lions had a bye week last week.

Look for the Hawkeyes to pound the ball against PSU with Fred Russell and also look for Jermelle Lewis to get a nice workout that could propel him for a solid finish to this season.

Oh by the way: Illinois ranks 92nd in the nation against the run, giving up more than 180 yards per game on the ground. Iowa hosts them on November 1st.

DOMINATING DEFENSE

The Iowa Hawkeye defense has been outstanding this year, which is not something you did not know.

But you may not have realized this: Just four other teams in D1 football have allowed fewer touchdowns this season than has Iowa. The Hawkeyes have yielded 11 touchdowns. Auburn and Georgia have given up 10, LSU nine and Florida State just eight.

Iowa is 7th in scoring defense nationally, allowing just 14.1 points per game. That is stingy, but not stingy enough to rank in the Top 10 best scoring defenses in school history. The top eight single season marks took place before the 1961 season in an era of football that is so different from what we see now. The 1981 team allowed just 13.0 points per game, good for 9th best all time while the 1997 team allowed 13.3, good for 10th best.

The 2003 Hawkeyes are 15th in the nation in total defense, allowing 296.3 yards per game and they are 8th best in the nation against the run, allowing just 78.7 yards per game.

ANEMIC OFFENSE

Where the defense has been stellar, the offense has looked more like Calista Flockhart on the Adkins diet.

The Hawkeyes are 103rd in the nation in total offense, including 109th in passing offense.

While Fred Russell checks in at number 12 on the national rushing rankings and Chandler has been picked off just four times this year, there has not been much to get excited about.

However, it's not how you win, rather the wins that matter.

Iowa is 5-2 with two very winnable games up next on the schedule before closing the season against Purdue, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

As long as you can run the football, you have a chance to win.

The 2000 Hawkeyes averaged 305.8 yards per game. This year's team is averaging 304.6 yards per game. But the 2000 Hawkeyes averaged 90 yards per game on the ground while this year's team is gaining better than 160 yards per game on the ground. Not to mention the 2000 Hawkeyes gave up 440 yards per game on defense.

Even though this year's team is not lighting up the scoreboard, they are achieving the Kirk Ferentz goal of being balanced. Through seven games, Iowa has gained 1,121 yards on the ground and 1,011 through the air.

8-4 still looks like a record this team could achieve this year, which is where I felt they would finish when the year began. However, I had Iowa beating MSU and losing to Michigan.

The rest of the way, I gave Iowa wins against PSU, Illinois and Minnesota, with losses at Purdue and Wisconsin.

If that is how things play out, Iowa should finish in the Top 25 in the polls and be in line for the Alamo or Sun Bowls.

Here is a vote for a return trip to San Antonio.

As far as bowl cities go from ease of travel to and from the venue and the proximity from the hotels to the ‘nightlife', San Antonio is hard to beat.

I*O*W*A 4077th

What will make me feel old is how many of you that have no idea what 4077th means.

If Trapper John and Radar O'Reilly don't mean anything to you, then what this next segment is about is how often Iowa has been injured this season.

Let's begin on the offensive line.

In the first game of the season, Iowa started Robert Gallery at left tackle, David Walker at left guard, Brian Ferentz at center, Eric Rothwell at right guard and Pete McMahon at right tackle.

At the time, all of those players were making their first collegiate start, save Gallery.

Walker has missed the last four games with a bad knee. Brian Ferentz missed the game at Ohio State and is out for the rest of the regular season at least. Eric Rothwell made his first career start at center on Saturday at Columbus after not taking reps at center prior to the bye week and last week's practices. Sam Aiello started at right tackle on Saturday with McMahon moving inside to right guard. True freshman Mike Jones played in his first ever game on Saturday at left guard.

That right there is five starts missed by the season opening offensive line, which equals the number of starts missed by the entire starting units on both sides of the ball from last season. No starter on the offensive line missed a start last year.

Other opening day starters that have missed at least one game are WR's Ed Hinkel (3), Mo Brown (4), Champ Davis (5) and Bob Sanders (2).

You can also throw in Jermelle Lewis and Albert Young into the mix.

Lewis was going to be #2 on the depth charts at running back, but he gained more than 700 yards last year making he and Fred Russell the most productive running tandem in modern day Iowa history.

True freshman Young then moved to the #2 spot on the depth charts in August only to break a bone in his leg prior to the first game of the year.

Lewis saw his first action of the season against Ohio State and Young was dressed out for the game, but did not play. He may redshirt if Lewis can go the rest of the way.

The injuries to Lewis and Young also caused major mayhem in the kickoff return game. Lewis would have been Iowa's primary weapon and when he went down, Young had emerged as the #1 returner for kickoffs.

Three true freshman have gotten reps at wide out this year as have RS frosh Calvin Davis and soph walk on Matt Melloy.

On Saturday, starting DT Jonathon Babineux suffered the second major injury of his Iowa career when he broke his ankle. He is done for at least the rest of the regular season.

Jovon Johnson missed a lot of time against Michigan two weeks ago with a bad ankle and he was seen on the Iowa sidelines in the second half of the Ohio State game with ice on that same ankle and did not return. TE Mike Follett injured an ankle against Ohio State and though he came back in the game, he soon left it again.

Sam Aiello and Nathan Chandler also got nicked up in the game and each player was limping noticeably at some point of the contest.

Antwan Allen also missed some time against Michigan, to where the defensive backs in the game for Iowa on Michigan's last two drives were Ejiasi, Shelton and Merrick. Not exactly Tinkers, to Evers to Chance.

They say that the breaks even out over time, and after last year's miraculous run of virtual injury-free football, the bad breaks are certainly mounting this year.

If you want an answer for why Iowa's offense is sputtering this year, look no further than this column.


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