Howe on the Hawks

"I was here when we were 3-9. It was a struggle to get a win every week. Back then were wouldn't be complaining about 17-10 over Iowa State." - Iowa Free Safety Sean Considine. Senior Writer Rob Howe agrees with Sean, and offers up some final thoughts on the game that was between Iowa and Iowa State.

Go ahead. Pat yourselves on back Iowa fans. You deserve it.

Instead of being overly critical after your Hawkeyes held on for a 17-10 win against rival Iowa State Saturday, you understood the value of the win. You reacted the same way your team did.

"I was here when we were 3-9," Iowa Free Safety Sean Considine said. "It was a struggle to get a win every week. Back then were wouldn't be complaining about 17-10 over Iowa State."

Iowa lost five games by an average of 5.4 points in 2001 when Matt Roth was a freshman.

"We've got some things that we've got to clean up," he said. "But overall, it's a great effort when you can get a win. It's always huge."

Nationally, the Iowa win might have been viewed in a negative way. Coming up 17 points short of the point spread will do that.

But anybody that knows anything about gambling lines realize that the idea is to create even action on both sides of the line so the house keeps the juice. It isn't always an indication of what the final score will be.

The odds makers proved efficient in that the line didn't move much during the week.

After two games, Iowa resembles the team you should have expected coming into the season – Inconsistent on offense and destructive on defense. You can imagine the Arizona State offensive coaches waking up in cold sweat while preparing this week.

Finding a fault with the Hawkeye D has proven tough to do through two games. The corners haven't put in their best work, but some credit goes to the opposition. The only touchdown allowed by the defense came courtesy of great play by Todd Blythe.

Bottom line – the Hawks have allowed just 146.5 passing yards per game when teams have no other choice but to put the ball up.

Offensively and on special teams, there's reason for concern but certainly not panic. As my dad would say, Stevie Wonder can see that.

The biggest criticisms being heard in the Land of the Hawks are directed at the lack of creativity of the offense and the inability to consistently run the football. But in order for these things to happen, the line requires more time to mature.

Remember, this front only began practicing together the week before Kent State. Achieving cohesion for zone blocking schemes does not occur over night. Plus, one of those starters – Todd Plagman – likely will be sidelined for a while with a high ankle sprain.

Think about how many injuries the Hawks' line has sustained during the last two seasons. Then consider that three of the five guys up there this year are first-year starters. And another man, LT Mike Jones, also is learning his way after getting his feet wet last year.

Take away injuries, and the Hawkeyes might look like this:

LT Lee Gray, LG David Walker, C Brian Ferentz, RG Pete McMahon, RT Jones with Walker and Ferentz in their second seasons as starters. Inconsistency on offense the last two seasons can be directly related to an unsettled situation up front.

This season, a juggling act at running back has hampered the progress of the Iowa ground game. Again, we've seen how affective this aspect of the offense can be when the line and back are working together in unison with a zone-blocking scheme.

Ferentz said after Saturday's game that his rushing attack failed to step forward from Week 1 to Week 2, but he knows it has been saddled with bad luck. He also realized that he's got a heck of a back in Jermelle Lewis and talented linemen that will get better with more reps.

Once the running game gets rolling, that will open up the air show. That could prove real scary for the opposition with new quarterback Drew Tate looking like the real deal.

There's no question that the biggest concerns for Iowa reside on special teams. Kicker Kyle Schlicher and punter David Bradley must provide more consistency. This team requires them to be.

Even though two games are a small sampling, Iowa's kickoff coverage team also has stepped back this season. Last season, teams averaged 16.5 yards per kickoff return. That number has risen to 26.2 after Week 2.

So, Iowa has areas of weakness. Welcome to the world of college football where guys come and go every year just like J Lo's love life, although the turnover there seems to be more frequent.

Stay relaxed. Compare your position as an Iowa fan to those folks that root for Michigan, Oregon, Nebraska, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Penn State, Michigan State, etc.

Enjoy basking in the warmth of a 23-5 mark dating back to 2002.

"Any time you get a win, you're going to be happy," Iowa Wide Receiver Ed Hinkel said. "We really don't care how we get it. We'll take it."

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