HN.com: Chuck, we knew going in that Purdue has had Iowa's number over the last couple of years, and they did it to the Hawks again. What is it, in your opinion, that Purdue has over Iowa?
CHUCK HARTLIEB: "In general, we talk a lot about how people might make some generalities and say that ‘Iowa has played Michigan well, yet they struggle against Purdue, and why is that?'
"It's not the teams, it's not the environment, but it is the scheme that you face. Going into this game, we knew that scheme-wise, this was Iowa's most difficult match up. Defensively, Iowa was more concerned about the pass than they were about the run, even though Purdue has a good running game. But we are not a strong nickel or dime team, and when they go with four or five wide receivers, that put Iowa in a heck of a bind."
"Strategically, they saw that Michigan had a lot of success with the blitz. It was a great idea and I think they put in a good package, but Iowa doesn't have the experience doing that and they probably don't have the players to do what they needed to do from that standpoint."
HN.com: Iowa just seemed out of sorts when they blitzed, which was uncharacteristic of this defense. The play that Purdue scored on early in the 3rd quarter was an example of that.
CHUCK HARTLIEB: "I think the game came down to two plays. The Purdue touchdown that you are referring to at the start of the third quarter is something that I feel they worked on all week. Their tendency was when they audibled at the line of scrimmage and they brought in the slot receiver, that nearly 100-percent of the time that receiver that was brought in tight, was going to block."
"And Iowa set up their scheme knowing that he was going to stay in. We used to do that years ago, break a tendency just once or twice during the course of the season at a critical time, and we hit home almost every time we did that. You could see when Orton took the snap, he knew exactly where he was going to go. They waited until the right time to do that. They brought that guy in several times in the first half and he blocked down each time. And then, the player who is on him forgets to worry about him going out into a pass pattern, and that is the one thing that he did."
"On the other side of things, I think Ken O'Keefe set Iowa up well in this game. That deep route to Ochoa on the post was a perfect set up. It was a great, great scheme for Iowa and they just could not execute it. I felt that O'Keefe did get aggressive in the first half with some new formations, with four or five new plays. They did some things that they hadn't done in the past and Iowa just did not execute them. Chandler didn't have the best day that he could have had."
"Nathan has to feel disappointed in his play to a certain degree, but he is still a 7-3 quarterback, but he is a notch below the level that Iowa needed him to be to play in a big bowl or to be a championship team. He is just missing a few passes each game that he needs to make."
"I think it goes back to just having a quarterback that has been there for two or three years. To me, regardless is a kid is 23 years old or he is 18, when he goes into a new stadium, a new environment, it is always going to be harder the first time around than the next time around. That is why when you can have a second or third year quarterback who has been to the road games once and has already seen what schemes teams will throw at him, that is why you want a third year quarterback. You don't want to have to go with a new quarterback every year because these guys, though they are seniors, they are going through things for the first time and seeing things for the first time."
"That is a disadvantage that hopefully Iowa can rectify over the next few years by getting a young quarterback in there."
HN.com: So you are saying that it is not necessarily a road game in general that is the main hurdle, but the familiarity with each team?
CHUCK HARTLIEB: "I am speaking specifically to quarterback play and the environment. I think sometimes playing at Indiana or Purdue can be just as challenging as playing at Ohio State, and I say that from a standpoint that there are different types of stadiums out there. The wind blows differently, the lack of emotion around the field, etc."
"We had tough times when you go out just before kickoff and the stadium is half full and people are sitting on their hands. It is tough to get into the game right off the bat because you are not used to that. Just seeing things for the first time, from the PA announcer to the band, to coming out of the locker room; every little thing can have an effect, and when you are doing it for the second time as opposed to it being a brand new experience, I think it is less awkward from a mental standpoint."
HN.com: Is it reaching for the positive to say that Iowa can take some things away offensively for the effort they gave in the second half?
CHUCK HARTLIEB: "I think so. I think that had they been shut out, it could have sent the offense spiraling downward. They played a good second half and they executed better. I think they looked at the film and saw that if they had made just a couple of plays the game could have gone either way. And if it had not been for the play of the offense in the second half, that would not have been the case. I think they still have great confidence in themselves based on the way they played for the entire game and they can take some of that momentum and hopefully they look at the next three games as one last season and try and run the table and really finish strong."
"Another big impact in this game were the injuries. We have talked about injuries all season. It has not been good there, but we all have to deal with that. I really thought that our defense was at a big disadvantage without Grant Steen and Jared Clauss. To me, this had a real impact on Saturday unlike some other games. I think we missed the senior leadership of those two (Steen and Clauss). I feel really bad for them. I think they are two great kids that have poured their hearts out for Iowa football. It's one thing to be a sophomore and go down, but when you are winding down your career at Iowa and you are doing it on the sideline, that is very difficult both mentally and emotionally. I really hope those guys can get back on the field and I think the Iowa defense really needs those two guys out there. It really impacted Iowa more on Saturday than it had in the past and I think those two playing down the stretch is very important to the success this team can have."
HN.com: Up next is Minnesota, who won their ninth game of the season last week in a thriller against Wisconsin. It is their first nine-win season since 1904 or something like that. They are a great rushing team and Michigan State held them to their season low with just under 170 yards a few weeks back. They gained more than 400 yards rushing against Michigan in their home loss to the Wolverines. They run on everyone. But stopping the run, prior to last week, has been one of Iowa's strengths this year. How do you see this game playing out?
CHUCK HARTLIEB: "I am going to make a strong prediction here. We just talked about schemes and match ups against Purdue, and I feel like this game plays perfectly into Iowa's hands. This is a game that we match up well in. I think Iowa dominates this game. Throw the Michigan-Minnesota game out the window. I think Michigan had a tough time bouncing back against Iowa, they had to travel a day early and played on a Friday on the road, etc. They woke up in the second half of the game and really took it to those guys. I think a great run defense, and that is what our focus will be this week, will shut those guys down. With Abdul-Khaliq or without him, it doesn't matter."
"Everyone always says the Iowa-Minnesota game is a tough one and it can go either way. Well, to me, I think it is like that in the Dome, but when the Gophers come to Kinnick, they are a different team. They are not used to playing in the cold. I think that Dome is worth 10 to 15 points for them. Get them out of the dome and it is a different story. The Minnesota pass offense is all-vertical. All they want to do is throw the ball on the sidelines or deep post you, and that is something that Iowa has handled well all year long. They are a very simple pass offense. Defensively, if we play where we should be, I think we do fine. Certainly, Minnesota's defense has plenty of holes in it. Hopefully Iowa gets its running game going the way it should and the play action game is there. I feel really good about this one."
"This game will speak to the character of a Kirk Ferentz team. We have seen that the character has been there. But now you have ruled out the Big Ten championship and probably have ruled out the big, big bowl game, but they still have a January 1 possibility in front of them and they still have the chance to win 10 games this year with the bowl game. You have some great possibilities still out there. Character gets you ready for this game and that is why I think they will finish strong on a senior day."
"I think Minnesota has a decent team. I think they are always a better first half of the season team, but we match up real well against them. If we can get a guy or two back on top of what we have now, I will say Iowa 31, Minnesota 13."