Hey, I don't have Tivo yet, so I can't rewind the plays as they happen during the course of the game. I am still living in a VHS world.
* On Iowa's opening kickoff, Ramon Ochoa caught the ball at about the one yard line on the right hash mark. The Hawkeyes had a return left set up and Ochoa was headed that way behind the wedge and Warren Holloway. Ochoa chose to cut back to the inside, but had he stayed with the left return and ran right behind Holloway, the Hawkeyes may not have needed that 18 play drive that came later, as he could have taken it to the house.
* In what has become more common the last three games, Iowa sent a WR in motion towards the QB and once the WR got just outside the tackle, the Hawks snap the ball and the WR goes into the backfield in position to take a handoff from Chandler for a reverse. But to date, Iowa has pretty much gone exclusively with the RB handoff in that situation, but I would look for the reverse this week. They ran it twice with Mo and once with Ochoa (as being the decoys) this week.
* The first wide receiver screen of the day that went to Calvin Davis for 18 yards was a thing of beauty. As you all know by now, Robert Gallery made a crushing block on the cornerback. Mike Jones didn't get the type of block that he wanted to on that play, but fortunately his guy had over-committed and could not cut back to make the tackle.
* On the first 3rd down attempt of the day for Iowa, the Hawkeyes gave the ball to Edgar Cervantes and he picked up four yards. Cervantes ran in between the right tackle and the tight end on that play, which was Mike Follett. Follett made a very solid block and stuck with it which really sprung Cervantes for his gain and kept that all important first drive alive.
* Chandler's first pass of the day was an incompletion to Erik Jensen that was off his fingertips on a waggle play. Chandler had to rush this one a bit as Illinois did a solid job of blitzing, something they did well all day long.
* On the next play which was 3rd and 7, Chandler hit Jensen in the flat on a beauty of a throw and it was for first down yardage, but the play was called back because of a hold. The next play was 3rd and 17 and Chandler went to Jensen once again over the middle about six yards beyond the Line of Scrimmage (LOS) and the refs felt that the Illinois defender interfered with Jensen on the play, so they called pass interference. That was a tough break for Illinois because Jensen was well short of the sticks and it was pretty much a bad call.
* After the PI call, Iowa was on the IL 30 and they went play action as Chandler looked for it all over the middle to Ochoa, a similar play that Iowa ran against Arizona State on Ochoa's first TD reception, but Chandler threw the ball a bit behind Ochoa and he had to slow down and that gave the IL DB time to close and break up the play, otherwise Ochoa would have scored in stride in the end zone untouched. It was one of only a few poor throws made by Chandler on the day. ESPN's color guy Randy Walker called Ramon "EWCHEWA" as in, ‘you chew a ‘
* One thing I noticed from watching the tape was that Calvin Davis is starting to get some pipes on him. I wonder if Mo Brown has taken him under his wing and is showing him the body sculpting ropes. If Davis keeps it up, he will have a physique to match Brown and a chance at a stellar Iowa career. He is already a great athlete and he is making huge strides this year at the WR position, as was the case on Saturday with five catches for 109 yards.
* Davis got caught pushing off after making a catch on 3rd and five. They marched off 15 yards on Iowa. 15? I guess I didn't realize that offensive pass interference was a 15-yard penalty. That made it 3rd and 21.
* On that 3rd and 21, Chandler dropped back, had some time but was flushed to his right and on the run he threw a bullet that was right on the mark to Ed Hinkel on the sidelines for a 23 yard pickup. That is a play that will be forgotten, but it kept the drive alive for Iowa and was fantastic.
* Iowa was called for holding on the next play, looked to be on Mike Jones. To his credit, I think Jones was driving his man so well that he lost his balance and fell down and Jones had no where else to go but right down on top of him. It was a late flag from the back judge.
* Chandler completed a hitch route to Ochoa after that which gained back 11 yards. Iowa needs to run more of those routes against soft coverage, but with Mo out for most of the season, Iowa has not seen soft coverage all that often. The Hawks went to the hitch today with Ochoa and Hinkel and that was good to see.
* On the TD pass to Tony Jackson, Chandler was once again stepped on by an offensive lineman and stumbled out of the block, but he kept his balance and composure and rolled to his right and lofted a pretty pass to Jackson in the back of the end zone. Nice play by Nathan and a nice catch by Jackson.
See what takes place on an 18-play drive that you just can pick up watching it live? I gotta get Tivo so that I can pause things during the game!
Now, on with the rest of the game…
* On Illinois' first kickoff return of the game, they had both of their return men lining up shoulder to shoulder on the goal line, as if to confuse the kickoff team as to who had the ball, and each player ran in a different direction. A few Hawkeyes bought the fake.
* On Iowa's 2nd possession, Mike Jones struggled a bit on a few plays. I am not piling on this kid, because he also made some great blocks against Illinois. As is the case with most young players, consistency is their first and biggest obstacle. He is going to be a special player, that is for certain. One of the things that Mike needs to do is block to the whistle. Robert Gallery does that so well. There are plays where Mike will make his original block, and then sort of stand and watch. He will correct that with time and reps.
* On Illinois' second possession, Kornfeld caught an 8 yard hitch and Jovon gave him a huge cushion. Look for Purdue to exploit that if Iowa is giving up a big cushion like that. On the next play, Jovon came up quickly in run support, however.
* The announcers kept making a huge deal out of Illinois' injuries, saying at one point that they have had eight in season surgeries. Iowa has had at least five that I can recall, in addition to James Townsend out with a stress fracture right now and Ed Hinkel and David Walker missing four games with injuries, etc. Iowa just has more quality depth than Illinois in year five of the Ferentz era compared to year eight or nine of the Ron Turner era.
I remember thinking after Iowa lost to Michigan in 2001 that Iowa was just not at a point where they had much quality depth…this staff has done an amazing job of turning things around.
* Iowa held a 10:34 to 4:26 time of possession advantage in the first half.
* On Iowa's third possession, Chandler threw a nice hitch route +11 to Calvin Davis. Iowa was picking on their true freshman corner, but it would be nice to see more hitch routes. However, with Brown out for much of the year and teams daring Iowa to pass against them with tight one on one coverage, the hitch routes have not necessarily been there.
* On the WR screen to Holloway, Pete McMahon had a couple of nice blocks and Holloway really turned the ball up field after making the catch. A nice play. Shortly thereafter, the play action deep post to Melloy was also a thing of beauty. Good throw and great blocking. Iowa's line moved to its right taking the pocket that way and Chandler had loads of time.
* On 3rd and 14 in the redzone on that drive, Chandler checked down four reads before running with the ball and gaining 10 yards. There was great blocking on the play and once again Chandler's ability to scan the field and his progressions is very, very solid. It was a smart play to tuck it and run.
* Iowa's fourth possession ended with a bad snap and a fumble on a field goal try after Iowa started the drive on the Illinois 32 after Antwan Allen had forced a fumble. That is as bad as a turnover. Kody Asmus filled in as the long snapper for the injured Grant Steen.
* Iowa dodged a bullet on Illinois' next possession. There was a third down play where the Illinois receiver was called for pass interference as he pulled down Sean Considine, which was the right call. However, Ward missed a wide open receiver that would have scored easily. Not sure if Allen blew that coverage or if a safety (Sanders) blew it, but someone did.
* On Iowa's fifth possession, Jermelle Lewis started his day well on a stretch play to his left where he made a hard cut back to the inside and then a harder cut farther inside before heading south. It was great to see Jermelle cut like that and get up with no ill effects. He might be close to getting it all back mentally.
* On the 33 yard completion to a diving Mo Brown, the pocket was collapsing on Chandler and he stepped up and fired a bullet to Mo. It was similar to the play at Iowa State where Chandler stepped up in the pocket under duress and lofted a pass that Brown caught for a touchdown, which was the last time Brown had caught a pass prior to this game.
* I can not say enough about the job that Edgar Cervantes did in this game as a blocker. He was just flat out solid on the day, culminating with Russell's TD on the toss sweep right where Edgar had a one on one block on the outside and sustained it for three seconds. Just a great job and that was a great drive. Iowa started it with 6:54 to go in the 2nd Q and they scored with just: 52 to go.
The second half saw many of the same positives out of most of the players.
Drew Tate looked cool, calm and collected on his drive….he has a little Doug Flutie in him if you ask me. He seems like a natural leader and his feet seem just good enough to be a weapon and he showed some nice touch on his pass to Matt Melloy for the score. He also made a couple of nice audibles, although Kirk was none too pleased with Tate burning two timeouts on his one drive. Not that Iowa needed them, but when the two's are in there like that and they are not telling them to just run the clock out, the coaches expect them to execute as if the game was on the line.
Speaking of audibles: in each of the last two games when Iowa has called an audible, I would say that 70% of the time it has been a stretch play to the right. 25% of the time has been stretch left.