It was the perfect time for an opponent with a weak defense to come onto the schedule, as it allowed Iowa to perhaps set up the rest of its season on offense with regards to its direction.
On the first play from scrimmage, Iowa came out with a three receiver set. When I refer to that here, I am not necessarily saying three WIDE OUTS. I am saying three pass catchers lined up outside of the box, which takes defenders out of the box.
On the first play, Iowa ran the waggle play (play fake left, with zone blocking OL action left as well, bootleg right) to Majerus for 10 yards.
On the second play, Iowa had the same offensive formation with Chandler in the left slot. **This left six Illinois defenders in the box** Iowa ran a zone play left with good flow. Right tackle Marshal Yanda was asked to seal off his man to the outside on the play, the lone blocker that did not flow left on the play. He did a great job of taking care of the backside, and that opens up a great cut back lane. Albert Young is proving to be a solid cut back runner, and he found the hole and was off for an eight yard gain.
Iowa showed some solid blocking two plays later as well. In a more traditional set, with a TE left and an H (Majerus in this case) off Chandler's hip left side and off the LOS, a pro-set with Hinkel and Solomon, Chandler was on the LOS on the left side. He and LT Ben Gates both crashed inside with the snap, taking their players that way. That action also freezes the linebackers a bit and they go with the flow, literally. Mike Jones comes over from his left tackle position, moving to his left to the space once occupied by Gates and Chandler and took care of the linebacker who was on his way over. Majerus handled the DE perfectly and Ed Hinkel did his usual good job down field. All of this meant a 36 yard run for Young.
One thing that stood out early on in watching the film is that Illinois did not blitz an awful lot. They were content to rush four, sometimes five and drop the rest to try and take on Tate that way. The good thing for Iowa is that it had a game plan for backs out of the backfield and more receivers in routes. Plus, Tate was patient for the most part and we saw glimpses of the 2004 Tate.
It was 3rd and 7 on Iowa's first drive in the red zone. Tate had time to throw, then the rush got to him, he backpedaled and threw a hard move to his right, but came back left. That froze two Illini defenders giving chase, and allowed him enough time to find Albert Young. The play looked like it could have been a screen, but I can't be sure. Either way, Young snuck out left after giving a block.
Stay with me here as I will be writing observations in the context of the tape, so things might go here and there.
The announcers were making a big deal out of Marshal Yanda allegedly holding on Marcus Schnoor's TD run. I really didn't see a hold on that play, though Yanda would be guilty of holding later in the game on a screen play that was run away from his side, which is never a good thing. The announcers said at one time that if it's not called, it's not holding. Matt Roth might disagree.
Mitch King has pretty impressive balance and is going to be a good hand fighter. The entire defensive line looked to have improved their hand fighting from earlier this year. I don't know where King's future lies with regards to position, but he is a disruptive player though he gives up a lot of pounds to the offensive linemen.
On Iowa's second drive when it was 2nd & 12, Young snuck underneath again for a good gainer (+21). That just opens things up so much more for this offense. Iowa was in a three receiver set on the play.
On that same drive, 1st & 10, Tony Moeaki made a great catch in traffic. Tate chose to throw to Moeaki, who was double covered, instead of hitting Chandler who was about five yards under him. Dangerous throw, but on the money where Moeaki had to jump to make a solid catch.
Shonn Greene's lone carry came at 7:07 of the first quarter.
On Ed Hinkel's reverse, it was zone action right on the line, with Gates blocking right at first, then releasing left. He made a key block on the play that allowed it to go for good yardage and Tate ran interference down on the five. That allowed Hinkel to go airborne from the three and he landed three yards deep into the end zone. His leap caught an Illini defender off guard, as he lowered his head, preparing for a shoulder collision. Hinkel flew right over him.
Illinois Ron Zook does not stand still, ever.
Albert Young had 99 all purpose yards after one quarter. On the last play of the first quarter, Young caught a 13 pass play where he was lined up in the slot.
How many of Ed Hinkel's career touchdowns have come in the back right corner of the end zone on ‘pick up league' plays? He and Tate have hooked up on at least four of those in two years, plays where Tate breaks contain, rolls right and Hinkel finds a way to get open in the back corner. Hinkel's football instincts are fantastic. Like Kirk Ferentz has said, Hinkel probably could have been an all conference safety, too.
On the 66-yard touchdown run by Damien Sims, Herb Grigsby threw the key block on a receiver and Sims broke out of a tackle. Sims outran the Illinois defenders, and Herb Grigsby nearly caught up to Sims and was there to throw another block if needed. Brian Ferentz also made a good block on that play, and Dace Richardson took his man inside to create the initial hole on the draw play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Kyle Schlicher put the ball through the uprights…but he was aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty that was tacked on to the kickoff.