It's been a wild weekend at my house as my wife, my 3-year old daughter and my 9-month old son are all battling head colds. For those of you without children, that's a recipe for "no sleep."
By the way, I'm wondering how it's possible for a 9-month old child to have THAT much…(what's the proper word for "snot"…hmmm, can't think of one)…snot come out of his nose in a single day. I mean, it was like one of those tricks where a magician pulls 19 miles of handkerchief out of his thumb. That's exactly what it was like. At least a dozen times today.
And why is it that kids just HATE to have their noses wiped? What's the big deal? It doesn't hurt…and the end result is good. But I'm telling you, I felt like I was on one of those nature shows with the guy wrestling an alligator just trying to get my son to allow me to get a tissue anywhere near his face. All I was missing was some narration from the late Marlin Perkins.
Anyway, enough about all that. Despite the illness all around me, I managed to watch the Iowa football game on Saturday and I have reviewed the box score of the Hawkeyes' final exhibition basketball game. Here are some of my thoughts…
- I doubt that we'll ever see Iowa win another football game in which the Hawks give up 97 plays, 563 yards, 29 first downs and 10 of 21 third-down conversions. Geez. Bend but don't break? Norm Parker did his best "Stretch Armstrong" imitation on Saturday.
- I love to watch Bob Sanders play football. I love to watch Sanders tackle people. I love to watch Sanders knock the ball loose. Those things I knew before Saturday's victory over Minnesota. Now, I know one more thing…I love to watch Sanders blitz. I hope Jim Sorgi gets a good, close look at Sanders blitzing a few times next Saturday.
- I think Lee Evans scored three more touchdowns today. Wow.
- One thing I DIDN'T see on TV today was Thomas Tapeh's sister dancing around after completely meaningless touchdowns. I think I got my lifetime supply of that on Saturday.
- How many NFL kickers are better than Nate Kaeding? Seriously. How many? Are there 10? I'll be SHOCKED if Kaeding doesn't have a very good NFL career. Then again, I figured Rob Houghtlin would make it in the pros, too. One difference is that Houghtlin didn't have the distance that Kaeding has, though.
- Welcome back, Jermelle Lewis. In the last couple of weeks, it looks like the junior tailback has gained a ton of confidence and appears to be the same guy who had a great sophomore season a year ago. Great combination of size and speed. And…(should I even bring this up?)…I don't think he's fumbled yet this fall.
- Much better, David Bradley. After a tough week in West Lafayette, the junior punter averaged 45.2 yards on five punts. A 75-yarder will always help the average, of course.
- Nate Chandler is now 8-3 as a starting quarterback at Iowa. If anyone out there honestly believed that the Hawks would be BETTER than that right now—considering the injuries they've had—they are either the ultimate optimists or pretty unrealistic.
- E-mail from a reader this week: "Brian Ferentz…Why is this nepotism allowed? Why don't the writers challenge Kurt Ferentz on this?" I guess my official response is… Who the heck is KURT Ferentz?
- Someone told me that one of the bowl projections out there right now has Iowa playing Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl. I think that could be a possibility if the Hawks fail to beat the Badgers in Madison. While I would prefer that Iowa defeats Wisconsin and gets a chance to play in the Outback Bowl or Capitol One Bowl, there is something intriguing to me about playing the Huskers in a bowl game. If Iowa defeated Nebraska in a bowl game, that would be pretty hard to beat…especially for those of us living in Western Iowa.
- Let's face it…the whole BCS system is just plain goofy. It's only a matter of time before NCAA D-1 football joins the rest of the sports world and incorporates a playoff format to determine its annual champion. What if USC, LSU and Ohio State all finish the regular season with one loss? Who will play Oklahoma for the national title? Of course, you could put an all-star team together from the USC, LSU and Ohio State rosters and still have a hard time beating the Sooners, so maybe it doesn't really matter, anyway.
- And what's deal with Ohio State? Really. What kind of a pact did the Buckeyes make…and with whom…to have the run of luck that they've been on for the last two years? I know. I know. How can you call it "luck" when they've done it 48 times in a row (or whatever)? Blah. Blah. Blah. But when it's luck, it's LUCK. Simple as that. I was really, REALLY pulling for Purdue in that game on Saturday, but obviously, it wasn't to be. My prediction for this Saturday in Ann Arbor: Michigan 24, Ohio State 13. But, I won't be a bit surprised if the Buckeyes win 17-16 when the Wolverines miss a 29-yard field goal as time expires…right after a Michigan touchdown is negated by a bad call.
- How much better can Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway get? Hodge (119) and Greenway (117) already have more tackles than last season's leader, Fred Barr, who had 114.
- Tyler Luebke did a GREAT job filling in at defensive tackle on Saturday for the Hawkeyes…seven tackles, two tackles for losses, one forced fumble and one sack. Now, THAT is some quality depth. Another great sign that Coach Kirk Ferentz has the program going in the right direction.
- I've definitely enjoyed watching Fred Russell run with the football the last few seasons. But next season, I think Iowa will be in good shape at the tailback spot with Lewis, Marcus Schnoor, A.J. Johnson and redshirt freshman Albert Young. Will Russell stick with an NFL team next fall? I'm concerned about his size, but he might have a chance if he can prove he can catch the ball. This year, Russell has six catches…for six yards.
- In Big Ten action, Russell is averaging 3.7 yards per carry, while Lewis is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Discuss.
- If someone would've told you in August that Chandler would have more rushing TDs in the Big Ten (four) than Russell (two) and Lewis (one) combined…I'll bet you would've guessed it would be a pretty lonnnnnnggggg season.
- Quick quiz: Which Iowa receiver (minimum of three receptions) is averaging the most yards per catch? Answer: Matt Melloy, who has six receptions for 110 yards, which is an 18.3-yard average.
- Starting in place of the injured Glen Worley in Iowa's 81-64 exhibition victory over Athletes in Action, Greg Brunner finished with 13 rebounds in only 24 minutes. You've got to like Brunner's aggressive style of play. I hope he's able to maintain that energy, remain healthy and stay out of foul trouble this season.
- Nick DeWitz scored 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers, in only 16 minutes.
- Jared Reiner had a good showing, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. But, the 6-11 senior only had five field goal attempts. This can be a little deceiving as Iowa's center also had six free-throw attempts, but allow me to throw up a warning flag here. The past few seasons, the Hawkeyes have NOT been good at feeding the post. In fact, at times, they've been downright awful at it. Considering Reiner's abilities, this will need to become a strength this season. If Iowa can improve in this area, it will definitely lead to more offensive consistency, more free throws, more open looks at three-pointers, more second shots and more victories. It doesn't matter if the post feed is to the low-post, mid-post or high-post area, it MUST become a point of focus for the Hawkeye offense.
- Jeff Horner and Pierre Pierce continue to fill up the stat sheet with points, rebounds, assists and steals. Although I know Iowa will greatly miss Reiner, Sean Sonderleiter, Brody Boyd and Glen Worley next season, I can't help but think of Horner, Pierce and Adam Haluska on the floor together…and how difficult those guys will be to defend.
- Erek Hansen didn't have a great day against AIA. The 6-10 sophomore center had just one rebound in eight minutes. Here's hoping that Hansen is more productive than that by the time the Big Ten season rolls around.
- Mike Henderson, a freshman from Waterloo East, will apparently get some meaningful PT this season for the Hawkeyes. Coach Steve Alford raves about Henderson's defensive abilities and you've got to like the way the rookie's numbers looked on Sunday: 10 points, 6 of 7 free-throw shooting and one assist in only 11 minutes.
(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)