Thanks to my daughter taking a three hour nap on Sunday afternoon, I was able to break down tape of the most recent Iowa game at a decent hour. Thanks, Gracie.
So here goes nuthin.
DREW TATE: It's getting to the point where us media types are running out of adjectives to describe Drew Tate. On WHO's ‘Sound Off' program Saturday night, I glossed Drew as ‘Teflon Tate', because would be tacklers slide right off of him; nothing sticks to Teflon.
Tate came out with the visor in this game, and it's not known whether that was due to getting fingers jabbed in his eyes or a way of hiding his eyes from the defensive backs. A dark Jim McMahon visor would look fantastic with those black uni's, wouldn't it?
For the game, Tate was 24 of 45 for two touchdowns and one interception that popped into the air on a busted up pass play.
So we are talking 21 incompletions. Though I did not count them, I am thinking that at least six of those 21 were balls that Tate threw out of bounds…good decisions. I think Scott Chandler had two drops, and I know that Hinkel had two drops. So we are up to 10 of those 21 incompletions right there. Clinton Solomon had at least one drop, the sure fire touchdown in the endzone after Tate inexplicably got away from TWO blitzers.
Let's break that one down.
It was during the fourth quarter, and Iowa was in a 3rd and goal to go at the nine yard line. Purdue brought a blitzer up the middle and one from the top edge. Tate drops back, sees the heat coming from the middle blitz, side steps and steps up to avoid that man, then instantly breaks to his left to avoid the blitz coming off the top edge. The fact that he was able to even escape that perilous situation was amazing enough, but Tate, running to his left, found a wide open Solomon who had come from the far side of the field. Tate lobbed a perfect pass, and Solomon chose to try and catch it with his breadbasket and not his hands, something Solomon rarely does. Solomon fell face first to the ground in disgust with himself.
Tate was still running after his throw, anticipating a game clinching score. He runs right to Solomon, who again was face first on the ground, and jumps on his back, and they are helmet to helmet, on the ground. We later would learn that Tate was telling Solomon not to worry, that he is still going to come back to him and that he has confidence in him.
We have seen so many examples of Tate's maturation process this year, and this was clearly another one. Tate's teammates have the utmost respect for him, and he is just a sophomore.
There were two more plays in this game where Tate's actions under pressure belied his age.
One of them came in the first quarter. Iowa had the ball deep in Purdue territory after the Boilers muffed a fumble and Charles Godfrey recovered it. Iowa was set up in the shotgun, and Mike Elgin snapped the ball while Tate was still barking out orders. The ball sailed past Tate some 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. If Tate falls on the ball, Iowa might have been out of field goal range. But he got a good hop, picked it up, and fired it out of bounds, saving the field position. Schlicher would come on and hit the chip shot.
The other play came on Chandler's long gainer for 46 yards. Purdue brought a corner blitz off the bottom. Tate saw this all the way. He waited until the defender had gotten close enough to him, and then he pump faked, which slowed the blitzer's motion, and Tate darted out to his left. While on the run, Tate lobbed a perfect, and I mean perfect pass to Chandler. It was feathery soft and right on the money.
Jake Christensen WILL get a chance to compete for the job next year, as will the other quarterbacks on the roster. Jake is an amazing talent, and he will likely be a star at Iowa. But Tate's play since the Michigan game has been incredibly solid.
During Iowa's current five-game winning streak, Tate has completed 61 percent of his passes, is averaging 262 passing yards per game and has a 2-1 TD pass to INT ratio (eight to four). And like I said, the Hawks are 5-0. Oh by the way, Iowa is averaging just 80.4 rushing yards per game during that same stretch.
During the game, former NCAA football great Andre Ware said this of Tate: ‘Drew Tate is magical; we are witnessing the development of the next great quarterback in the Big Ten.'
If you had to ask me to cast my vote for Iowa's team MVP this year, it would be Tate. Without Tate, where would Iowa be? He is easily the player Iowa can least afford to lose, at least that is my opinion.
JONATHON BABINEAUX: Matt Roth gets all of the headlines and cutaways during Iowa's TV broadcasts, but Babineaux does the dirty work inside. He is cat quick and is a mismatch each and every week for his opponents. He has 15.5 tackles for loss this year, and has a shot at the school record.
There was a play when Purdue tried running the waggle, and Kirsch faked a hand off, then reversed field. Babineaux was not fooled, and he and Derreck Robinson made the sack, forced a fumble and Iowa recovered.
One thing I am more convinced of each game; Iowa is going to have a real hard time replacing Babs, Roth, Tyler Luebke and Robinson next year.
KYLE SCHLICHER: Kyle is probably beating himself up a little bit for his two misses and the one blocked field goal. His miss from 47 yards out hit the top of the upright. He did push a kick wide right late in the game, and when his last field goal attempt was blocked, Purdue hammered up the middle with two men on one Iowa blocker. It was great execution by Purdue, a team that has blocked a lot of kicks this year.
But one thing I do want to point out with Kyle, is that his kickoffs were fantastic on Saturday. He was getting great hang time and distance at the same time. And the kicks that were not touchbacks, Purdue had a hard time getting it out to their 20.
I think he has just as strong a leg as Nate Kaeding did, but he still needs to work on his trajectory.
SCOTT CHANDLER: Shades of things to come? Iowa created mismatch problems, lining Chandler up wide in the early going. Chandler showed some nice ability in this game to run after the catch. He also showed us, in my opinion, that he has some big play ability in him. Once he can become an adequate blocker and once he consistently makes all of the catches, he will be a great weapon for Iowa.
You don't think that Iowa just gave Minnesota a boat load of things to look for on tape?
WARREN HOLLOWAY: I just love the effort he gives out there. He does a lot of the dirty work for Iowa, and the routes that he runs are not the glamour routes of the play call. He is the grinder, and he is doing a superb job.
CLINTON SOLOMON: Another player that is showing great effort out there. He is a mismatch right now for would be defenders. And he has shown the ability to gain that extra yard or two after making the catch, with defenders draped on him.
Now, on to some elements of the game…
THE GAME PLAN: Hats off to Ken O'Keefe and all of the coaches. They had a great game plan in to start the game. That they came out throwing was not the story: they have done that before. It was the four wide sets and quite a bit of things they had yet to show on tape. Hats off to the players for being able to digest all of those new looks. I think there were two plays where Tate had to take a timeout due to some confusion, and one of those was when freshman Damien Sims went in motion when he was not supposed to…
Though the Hawks did not crack the 50-yard rushing mark for the game, they still ran effectively enough when they had to. That is important to keep teams honest and make them respect Iowa's play action game.
One such play was in the first quarter on the drive where Tate hit Tony Jackson for the score that put Iowa up 17-0 at that point. (By the way, that play looked a lot like the Banks to Clark winner v Purdue in 2002).
It was after Iowa had recovered the fumble forced by the Babineaux and Robinson sack.
Sam Brownlee ran off left tackle for nine, then got two more yards for the first on the next play.
The very next play, Iowa went with their waggle (play action with the line moving one way and the QB then rolling out the other) and Tate hit Tom Busch for a pick up of 11 yards.
One more thing…by now many of you know that Mike Elgin didn't play in the second half and that Lee Gray missed a lot of time. I didn't realize those things during the third quarter, so when I saw Iowa going vanilla on offense, I didn't think that was a good idea against Purdue. Well, they did what they had to do.
SPECIAL TEAMS: When you block to short field goals and win by just two points and have superb kick off coverage, you get a high grade.
LINE OF THE DAY: "What do I think of offensive linemen? Fat, lazy, good holders, they smell…eat your food. They usually fit that mold." Matt Roth.
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