Monday Morning Quarterback with Chuck Hartlieb

In this week's edition of 'Monday Morning Quarterback with Chuck Hartlieb', the former Iowa signal caller talks about Iowa's performance on Saturday against Iowa State. He was impressed with Iowa's defense and he talks about the positives he saw in the offense, while also pointing out some of the areas for correction and why things might have gotten away from the Hawkeyes in this contest.

Drew Tate has started out slow in some games at Iowa, and you could say that he has started out poorly by throwing early interceptions or letting the ball sail on him a little bit. What can he do to start out better and play more even from the get go?

CHUCK HARTLIEB: I do think that Drew has a little bit of Bret Favre in him. He is a spirited and aggressive type of quarterback. I think that is one of his best attributes. He is a tremendous leader that way and is very emotional and I think the team rallies behind him. But he does have a tendency sometimes to not be so sharp in the first quarter. I am sure that he and Coach O'Keefe talked about that last year and going into this year. More than anything, I think Saturday was a wake up call for him for the rest of the year. One of the things that probably shook them all up was that he did do the right thing off the bat and had a nice dump off to the fullback Busch and was making his reads and kept it simple, and then Busch coughs it up. Right then, you feel that ‘maybe I need to get downfield and get it to the receivers.' It probably rattled the whole offense. That fumble really hurt the rhythm right off the bat.

Iowa State made some plays and they were up for the game from the outset, but Iowa shot itself in the foot, too. They were driving several times in the first quarter and made too many mistakes. What did you take away from the game?

CHUCK HARTLIEB: First of all, I want to give a lot of credit to Iowa State. It's great for the state to have such a balanced rivalry and the Cyclone fans deserve it just as much as we deserve it. Coach McCarney came up with a great game plan. We talked about how impressed we were with both (DC) Skaldany and (OC) Cotton and they did different things on Saturday and executed it.

We talked in the past to the level of importance that you put into the game, and Iowa State sent that message when they come out in three, four and five wide receiver sets for 80 to 90 percent of their snaps. Did they do that at any point last year? Did they do that against Illinois State? They didn't. They went and decided to change their whole offense and put all of their eggs in the Iowa basket to go for the victory. My hat is off to them and they did it. They showed how critical a game it was for them. Iowa on the other hand, I didn't see anything different from Iowa. They played their game and expected to win with what they do each week. With five turnovers and a great Iowa State game plan, it just didn't work out. So hats off to the Cyclones and hopefully this is just a real similarity to the Arizona State game last year where Iowa can only move forward positively.

How did you feel about Iowa's defense?

CHUCK HARTLIEB: Before kickoff, if you would have told me that the defense would hold Iowa State's offense to nine points into the middle of the fourth quarter, I would say it would have been a decent victory for Iowa. As tough and as balanced as the game was, we still had a nine point defensive performance until the last drive, and six of those points were set up for them with a fumble they recovered at the Iowa 12-yard line. For what Iowa State threw at us, things that we had not seen on film, I thought the crew played great. I thought they played very solid.

You hold someone to 235 yards off offense until just over nine minutes left in the game and have 95 degree weather and you are losing the time of possession 36 minutes to 23 minutes with five turnovers, I think the defense played fine. I did not have any concerns there. Our defense is based on not giving up the big play, tackling well and being fundamentally sound and I think for the most part we were this week. I was really proud of them. It is tough to come out on the field after those turnovers. Think about how they responded to that. They had a decent game. I am sure they are frustrated with certain aspects and they will work on some issues, but all in all, for what they had to face, they did just fine.

What did you take away from Iowa's offensive performance?

CHUCK HARTLIEB: I don't think there is any reason at all for panic. I kind of feel like what I said in our initial interview two weeks ago came true, and you got some comments back that I was a bit off for saying it was going to be harder for Tate and that it would be more challenging this year. But that is what happened. They (ISU) came out and played a nickel, ‘40' zone.

That is where you have an umbrella with four DB's, soft coverage, and kept everything in front of them. They refused to give up the big play. They sat at about 10-12 yards and were not giving up any soft corners to hit out routes. It's a very popular defense, but they had not done a tremendous amount of umbrella cover four in previous games. It's a part of their package, but they played that for the majority of the game. They were saying, ‘hey, Tate is not going to make a big play on us, he will have to be patient, he will have to do 10 to 12 play drives to get it in the end zone.' That means you have to run just as much as pass the ball and pick your spots downfield. I think it's going to be a tougher year for Drew because defenses are going to come in looking to stop what he does best. It's doable, but this was a tough lesson to learn and moving forward, he will have to use patience. If there is one word for the passing game, it's patience. For years, passing teams have seen nickel and soft coverages like that. So you just scratch it where it itches and take what the defense gives you from the old Coach Fry days. Take your time getting down the field.

Both of us were interested in seeing how Iowa's offensive line would do in a real test. They got that on Saturday, so how do you feel after watching what they did?

CHUCK HARTLIEB: I think there are some positives to draw there. Any time you only score three points and you have five turnovers, the offense looks at itself as a team and is disappointed. You give a lot of credit to ISU for making some big plays. Coach Fry always used to say that if you turn the ball over a bunch and you could lose to Iwojima Junior College; that was his famous line. They have to watch the turnovers. But I thought our running game was impressive at times and the fact that Albert Young stepped up the way that he did gives us as good of a tailback as we have had in recent years. We have some positives things that happened there. So from a running standpoint, they did fine. From a passing standpoint, Berryman played a great game. That is the strength of that team is that Berryman and Leaders are tremendous. There was pressure, but there was some time in the pocket, too. Our passing game just needs to get more fine-tuned and that comes three or four games into the season.

Do you think having UNI up next at home is a good thing, as opposed to last year when Iowa lost at Arizona State and had to come right back and travel to Michigan?

CHUCK HARTLIEB: I think so. Now they have seen where they need to work and everyone knows what they want to improve upon. I really believe in momentum and this will be good to get some positive momentum going hopefully, and refocus on moving forward and not looking back. I think this is a good spot for everyone involved. Northern Iowa will give them a test, but hopefully they can focus on the areas they need to improve and pick it up another level.


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