Monday Morning Quarterback

Chuck Hartlieb has played at Ohio Stadium and knows the difficulties that go along with that and any road venue in the Big Ten. He also has taken several thousands snaps between he and various centers over the years and we asked Hartlieb to comment on some of the challenges that quarterbacks and centers face on the exchange in part one of 'Monday Morning Quarterback' Chuck, the game against Ohio State did nothing to remind Iowa fans of an offensive attack like the one that you led back in the late 1980's. What are your general thoughts from what you saw on Saturday?

CHUCK HARTLIEB "I think we are still going to look back at the end of the year and see that this Ohio State team will have three losses in the Big Ten. I really feel that their offense is really weak, even though Iowa had a tremendous defensive effort. They were playing on their home field and it looks to me like they were healthy on offense, and they did not do a thing. My hat is off to our defense and I think the Ohio State offense will struggle all year."

"On our side, I think that being on the road really hurt Iowa's offense. I think that was a big factor. The games at Iowa State, Michigan State and Ohio State, the offense has been a notch lower than the way we have played at home. I think that raises concerns with the remaining two road games. So I think that came into play and had an impact on Saturday."

"Secondly, we are having our share of injuries. We have to overcome the injuries and figure out a better way to play on the road." Mike Jones played in his first ever game on Saturday at left guard. How hard is it to make your first start at the home of the defending National Champions?

CHUCK HARTLIEB "The difficulty is in the noise factor. It's the loudest place in the Big Ten, probably one of the loudest in the country. From a physical standpoint, I don't think it is any more intimidating to line up against a 300-pound defensive tackle if it's Indiana or Ohio State. The biggest thing is keeping your poise in a very tough environment and that is something that gets learned over a season or two, not in your first game. I am sure there were some communication issues on the line. Ohio State and Purdue run the same kind of packages up front, and that means the line has to have a great day communicating."

"It looked at times like that was not occurring. It goes to inexperience as much as anything. I am sure that coach Ferentz is talking to his team about mental toughness. On the road, you have to be mentally tough, extremely focused and concentrated on the task at hand and you have to overcome the bad snaps and the bad plays. If you can just make three or four plays better, it has an impact on the game and that was the case on Saturday, as Iowa just had too many bad plays."

"I think too that the staff is talking this week that they cannot afford to have second and long situations. I think a big factor was Fred Russell's running game. You live by the sword and you die by the sword. Fred is an excellent running back and in the second half of some games this year, he has been able to break some. But when you start playing a defense like Ohio State on the road, I think that changes things. The biggest issue was being in 2nd and 12 or 2nd and 15 and not being able to sustain drives because of it. The mindset is so much different from that to even 2nd and 7 or 2nd and 8 because you still have the dual threat of running or passing. But 2nd and 15, the defense has such a big advantage."

"It is a tough call, because you have an all Big Ten running back and his style is not matching up well with the inexperience of the offensive line and the lack of a solid passing game. It will be interesting to see how the next couple of weeks go." Chuck, I felt in September that Marcus Schnoor could be effective as he is more of a North-South runner. Is that the type of style that you feel would be nice to see now and again?

CHUCK HARTLIEB "Yeah, and now here comes Jermelle. There is a need for that, and if Lewis is close to 100%, he and Fred can mix things up and you have a great 1-2 punch."

"Fred's style has been successful over the last two years, but in critical spots, and being on the road, you have to stay out of the negative plays and stay out of 2nd and long." Eric Rothwell made his first start at center on Saturday. Talk about the center position and what can lead to some of the errors that we saw on Saturday and all season, in fact?

CHUCK HARTLIEB "In my experience over the years, bad snaps typically come from centers firing off too fast. Just a two or three inch difference underneath there does not allow the quarterback to close his hand around the ball properly. You see things like this over the years with new centers. They can get anxious to double team a nose guard that is shaded one way, or they mentally get worried about a linebacker shooting the gap and they have not made the call and they come up three inches short under center and you have the bad exchange."

"It might be a little more unique this year because I would think it would be a challenge for Chandler to get down so low, so certainly Nathan could be a factor in this. But my experience has been that it has been more center related than quarterback related. You can tell by the way Chandler's feet get away from center that he is staying in there long enough. If his feet are really a few feet away from the snap and if he is pulling out too fast, you can tell. When in fact, he has been staying in there extra long it seems like, and from time to time he has been getting tripped up."

"So I think that it is center related and it is tough because center might be the most underrated position on offense because the things that they are doing, if people could put a microphone on center and hear what they are having to say in about a three or five second window, as far as calls to the rest of the line, it is amazing what they have to do. Coach Ferentz knows that and he makes that center the QB down there."

"It is such a rapid fire, split second move. A quick snap up and then it is a punch…that center has to get a punch somewhere on a tackle or nose guard and he has to start drive blocking. If he does anything but that, that guy is right in the backfield. It is an amazing physical requirement from an agility and a coordination standpoint, but I have always been amazed at just how intelligent that center has to be in a small window of time, because the calls they have to make are really difficult."

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