One of Iowa's mantras over the last few seasons has been ‘Next Man In', meaning that if one player goes down, the next man behind him is expected to step in and do the job.
With so many injuries to running backs this year, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz recently joked that they should change their mantra to ‘Last Man Standing'.
There have been several examples of players stepping up this year, and one name that I feel has gone under the radar has been Warren Holloway.
You are not going to see Warren's name jump out at you when you look at the stat sheet, but during Iowa's game against Illinois on Saturday, he showed what he is made of.
The fifth year senior just plays at a high rate of speed and energy. When he catches balls, he turns up field hard.
An example of that was during the third quarter against Illinois, when Iowa faced a 3rd and 16 on the drive that would ultimately end in Drew Tate's five-yard touchdown run.
Tate had heavy pressure from his left, and he spun and got away from the first defender. He set up and delivered a strike to Holloway, who then turned up field with an Illinois defender draped over him. He picked up the extra three or four yards needed to keep that drive alive with nothing but pure effort.
Earlier in that same quarter, Holloway threw the block that wound up springing Ed Hinkel for his second score of the game. It was a great, great block, by the way.
Also in the third quarter, Holloway got the ball on a reverse, and after a nifty block by Drew Tate, Holloway gained eight yards on the ground. That was the same drive as his aforementioned catch and gutsy run after the catch.
Another play that will go unnoticed by most was Holloway's tough catch in traffic in the first quarter that resulted in a first down. Iowa didn't score any points in the first quarter, but that play allowed another couple of minutes to run off the clock, taking away the wind advantage that Illinois had in that quarter.
Stand up and be counted, Warren. Your efforts are not going unnoticed.
The Hawks ran a new play on Saturday. Not that it has not been in their arsenal, just that I don't recall seeing it before.
They faked a handoff, and wound up running a screen play to TE Scott Chandler in the right flat. Several offensive linemen were up field to block for him, but Tate threw the pass low, and Chandler could not hang on to it. It would have been a solid gainer.
That makes two plays to tight ends in back to back weeks that were well designed, but did not hit the way that Iowa wanted them to hit. I would look for this play again this year.
When you win a football game, it's hard to complain about officiating. You probably won't hear Kirk Ferentz talk about it, but the officiating at Saturday's game was not the best we have ever seen.
There was a blatant clip early in the game on an Illinois punt return that was not called, much to the chagrin of Ferentz.
There was a lateral that was ruled as an incomplete pass that gave Illinois five yards of field position they should not have. Matt Roth was being held on numerous occasions.
The spotting of the football was not consistent all game, something that Ed Podolak railed on throughout the radio broadcast. An Illinois defender hit Drew Tate three yards out of bounds on the first play of the game.
Adam Shada was hit by a cheap shot after a kickoff return had been blown dead.
It just wasn't a very good game by the men in stripes.
OCTOBER PERFECTION: POSSIBLE HARBINGER?
Since the dawning of the Hayden Fry era, here are the Iowa teams who won four straight Big Ten games in the same season:
1983 (4): 9-3
1984 (5): 8-4, Bowl win
1985 (4): 10-2, Big Ten Title
1987 (5): 10-3, Bowl win
1990 (5): 8-4, Big Ten title
1991 (7): 10-1-1
2002 (8): 11-2, Big Ten Title
2004 (4-and counting): ?
So as you can see, Iowa teams that have won at least four straight league games in the same year won at least 8 games. Three of the seven (not counting this year) won Big Ten titles.
Last year's 10-3 team never won more than two league games in a row.
This year's Iowa team becomes just one of four in the last 44 years to go undefeated in October. The others: 1984, 1985, 1990...85 & 90 won Big 10 titles.
Since the 1939 Ironmen team, you can throw in the great teams from 1957-1959 into that mix, as well as the 1960 team. The 1958 team had a tie in October. The 1960 team went 5-0 in October.
- Iowa drew another first down on an obvious attempt to draw its opponent offsides. Kudos to Tate and center Mike Elgin for converting on that strategy, one of the oldest plays in the book.
- Tony Jackson seems to be reverting to old habits; he has been noteworthy for his drops in recent games than for good plays. That has been the rap on Tony for his Iowa career…great talent and can make the big play, but he has a tendency to make the more ‘routine' plays too difficult, resulting in dropped passes.
- Antwan Allen has taken a lot of heat during his career, including from me, but he has played big in recent weeks. The entire secondary has done that. Marcus Paschal has emerged into a fine strong safety. Jovon Johnson has done well, too.
- Is it just me, or do Iowa's opponents drop a lot of passes. Maybe it was just the wind, but Illinois' receivers were not at the top of their game this week…is that a function of the receivers alone, or are they hearing the footsteps of Iowa defenders that they saw on tape?
- I think that Jonathon Babineaux is not getting enough love for his efforts this year. No one can block that guy. Here is the love, J. B.
- After Iowa blocked a punt for a safety, one of Iowa's special teams coaches, Darrell Wilson, looked to Kirk, nodded and Kirk gave him a slap on the back.
To read what Iowa fans are saying about the Illini game, the stretch run for the 2004 season, as well as recruiting conversations, plus the 'inside scoop'on the Hawks, visit the HN Clubhouse, the most active fan forum on HawkeyeNation.com, the most visited Iowa Hawkeyes team site of all time.