The first thing I wanted to do after watching about two Ohio State possessions was to run into my office and look at the tackle stats for Iowa.
The obvious suspicions were confirmed; Iowa's third leading tackler on the day was Antwan Allen with seven stops, and Charles Godfrey had six stops. In all, 21 of Iowa's 86 tackles on the day came from members of the defensive secondary. (Iowa had 91 tackles, but three of those came from the kickoff coverage team and two of them came from the punt coverage team, leaving 86 non-special team tackles.). 25 stops came from seven defensive linemen.
That's nearly 25 percent of your defensive stops coming from the four players who are furthest from the ball when it is snapped. In other words, ‘uh-oh'.
Iowa tackled as poorly against Ohio State as they have in any game under Kirk Ferentz since they went to the 2001 Alamo Bowl, and probably earlier. It was just not a good day for the Iowa defense on that front, in addition to others.
There were several instances where an Iowa defender was in position to make a tackle for either a loss or a decent stop, but they were unable to execute. Yes, the field was a bit slick, but it was slick for Ohio State, too.
Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge had more offensive linemen and fullbacks on them in this game than they saw for the majority of last season, in total. Rare was the play on Ohio State first two drives where the defensive line laid a finger on an Ohio State ball carrier.
I hope that Ohio State showed Iowa the way in this football game with regards to some things the Hawkeyes should be able to do on offense.
The Buckeyes spread the field on several instances Saturday, and they were effective throwing and running the football out of those looks.
Their option play that killed Iowa came primarily out of a spread triangle formation; three receivers wide to one side, with two on the line of scrimmage and one lined up behind the LOS and behind one of the wide outs, with another wide out on the opposite side of the field. That left five linemen, Troy Smith out of the gun with a running back. Iowa had to commit four defenders to cover the triangle side of the play, with a corner locked on on the other side. That is five defenders to cover four players. It also caused an Iowa linebacker to sit in the flat, which now leaves Iowa with five defenders in the box. That is five OSU OL's against four Iowa DL's and a linebacker, and it left Smith with several options.
There were several instances in this game where it looked like the teams were playing seven on seven passing drills, because of how Ohio State spread their offense.
Now, I am not saying Iowa should run the option with Drew Tate; that is probably not a great idea. But I do believe Iowa can have success with three and four WIDE RECEIVER SETS. A distinction needs to be made here; I am not talking about four RECEIVING OPTIONS, I am talking about WIDE RECEIVERS or even a Tony Moeaki or a Scott Chandler in the slot, or outside of the box.
After watching the tape, Iowa did get five pass catchers out into patterns in the first half, but oftentimes it came out of a pro receiver set (one wide out line up wide on each side), with either an ‘I' formation, an offset ‘I' with the fullback, or a tailback with an H-back that was usually Ryan Majerus.
On the drive in the second half where Iowa had some success, they spread the field, they sent Albert Young into the passing lanes and sometimes in motion. When he went in motion, it took one more Ohio State defender out of the box.
You can also run a quick hitting attack out of the spread, which will help you if you are having some offensive line problems. It also allows Tate to create more out in space.
On this day, Iowa ran most of its traditional power ‘I' or offset ‘I' with the H-back, and Ohio State, at least in the first half before they smelled the blood in the water, were dropped seven and sometimes even eight defenders back into coverage, something Chuck Hartlieb predicted Tate would see this year before the season even began.
There were enough individual break downs in this game to where it's pointless to single anyone out.
Let's just hope that it was one of those games and Iowa will learn from it and build as the season goes on.
All is not lost, and this coaching staff has shown an amazing ability to rally the troops as the calendar turns from September to October.
The Hawks are an amazing 19-2 the past three seasons in October and November, while they are just 8-5 in September.