Monday Morning Quarterback w/Chuck Hartlieb

Former Hawkeye gunslinger Chuck Hartlieb liked what he saw out of Iowa's offensve on Saturday and believes that the performance bodes well for the rest of the year. He talks about that in addition to believing that Purdue comes on the schedule at the right time for Iowa. Why is that? Hartlieb tells you in this week's installment of Monday Morning Quarterback

Q: Iowa mixed up its formations on offense against Illinois, sets that were more conducive for passing and they got the ball to the backs. Does that bode well for the rest of the year?

Chuck Hartlieb: I do. We have said in the past that he short passing game, the dump downs to the tight ends and the running backs is really an extension of the running game. It's a great way to have additional schemes on first and second down. I thought it was a big day for Albert Young, not necessarily from a numbers standpoint, but from an execution standpoint. I am really impressed with him, especially on the passing side. It's a real skill to learn to run routes correctly and to get to open areas and he has a ways to go, but he showed signs that he can be a real threat from a receiving standpoint and they have to feel good about that.

Q: Drew Tate had a good game; the one bad play was the interception. But we saw some of last year's Tate, buying time for himself, scrambling and throwing the ball away. He seemed more comfortable and the offensive line gave him more time.

Hartlieb: I thought that Hinkel came across the middle and got mixed up with the linebacker, and the player stepped in front of him or accidental contact, so I would not necessarily of putting that on Tate. It could have been pass interference or a fluke, and sometimes that happens. I am willing to cut him a break. I thought it was a strong game from a lot of different areas. The one thing to bring up offensively, I thought a theme last year was to come out strong, the scripted plays worked great, and then they flattened out and hung on a lot of times in the second half. I thought it was impressive to come out and put a couple quick touchdowns up, Illinois jumped back into it and then not walk away. The offense had a killer mentality in the third and fourth quarters and put up 21 points. They were strong out of the chute, and I thought the way they played in the third quarter bodes well as an offense in the coming games.

Q: Do you think the defensive line is improving? Can a young and undersized group like Iowa's improve to the point where things get better or is it a matter of seasoning, strength and weight?

Hartlieb: It's difficult to make big strides over four or five games. I am sure they are taking decent steps each week in their own way, and they are getting better. Will a couple of them become Roth-like all of the sudden? Doubtful. But can they mix things up and get pressure? I think they are coming along from that standpoint. I thought we saw some more schemes. Defensively, they need to find a way to make plays and put themselves in positions for the seniors to step up and offset the inexperience of the defensive line. I thought that was another positive from Saturday, in that the defense consistently has been made up of great playmakers. I thought Jovon Johnson's interception was one of the best I have seen in a long, long time. The character they showed in giving up drives and coming up with blocked field goals and making stands showed a lot. That deep post over the middle was a little frustrating, but they had the big play most of the time. I think there is enough character on the defensive side of the ball to withstand a strong offense and hold them to 14 or 17 points and see if the offense can go 21 points or better. I think it's that type of a team.

Q: They are going to a place that has a good offense in Purdue. I don't know if you saw Purdue's game against Notre Dame, but I was stunned at the way that Notre Dame took it too them. Purdue returns 11 starters on defense and they are now 110th in the nation in total defense. What do you look for this week out of Iowa on offense?

Hartlieb: First off, schedule wise, I think that we are catching a decent break here. Purdue has plenty of talent, they are well coached and playing on the road is difficult. However, as a quarterback, as an offensive or defensive coordinator, this is exactly where I want to see them; after two big games, they have shown a lot on film. I am sure they are ready to explode, but I would much rather see how Notre Dame exploited them on film, how Minnesota got after them in the running game, than not being able to have such things on tape. I think you have two teams with the same mindset and one will turn it around and get some momentum going, where the other one will continue to try to find their way. What a fun week this week would be to see how Notre Dame set them up and caused confusion and moved the ball through the air, which is how Iowa would like to attack them if that is possible.

Secondly, I hope the team doesn't forget how they played certain areas of the game so well in Columbus two weeks ago. If they can continue to play turnover free with solid core special teams play on the road, they are going to win a couple of road games at a minimum. It would be wonderful to see them do have the same core effort on special teams, play smart and now, the only third piece of the puzzle is on offense and defense, getting some people to step up and make plays. I think this team is right there ready to do that. What a great time to pop Purdue onto the schedule. Purdue is not where we thought they were going to be at, and here we are very hungry and have already showed that we can at least do the basic important stuff on the road like we did in Columbus.

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