Q: You have had everything dead on from the beginning of the year. Your predicting that teams would drop seven and eight defenders to confuse Tate has been spot on. Purdue has blitzed the heck out of Iowa the last four years, and they did little of that this week and Tate picked them apart.
Chuck Hartlieb: I felt that Drew played a terrific game, but I think a lot of people might overlook that he got us out of a lot of bad plays. He really moved around well in the pocket like he did all of last year. When we did see pressure for what ever reason, Tate did a fantastic job of getting out of the pocket, moving around, stepping up; if he got us out of five, he got us out of 10 bad plays. Instead of negative yards, it was either a big play or no loss. That is what makes him special and unique; the ability to get you out of bad plays. He has a good arm and a good head for the game. His feet…it was his first time to bring back that part of his game from last year and that was a big difference.
Secondly, one of the things we have going is Albert Young. The talent back there this year is significantly stronger. We talked about the passing game and involving Young, and without seeing film, I felt like Iowa snuck him out quite a bit and the linebackers had to respect him, and it's what we have talked about in the past. If you can incorporate the backs in your passing game, it will open things up downfield. The linebackers were squeezed more and we found the gaps and seams downfield. When Young is a threat, it keeps your opponent from blitzing more.
Q: I have watched the Purdue film twice now and the zone running play is definitely back. Purdue still has a veteran defense that is sputtering for some reason. Iowa's zone play worked well on the day.
Hartlieb: I agree completely. Execution is execution. We don't know right now what type of team Purdue has. The bottom line is that you can go against Purdue or Ball State and you still have to execute. I thought the line played their best game of the year. The ability for us to keep the running game intact and make that a decent threat is going to be critical the rest of the way. That gives us huge optimism going forward when we can get an Albert Young with so many great runs during a game. Maybe not 30 yard runs, but when you are knocking off five or ten yards at a crack and win the time of possession battle, get us in decent second and third down situations; that is huge. I am really excited about what the running game can provide the rest of the way now that you can see how well the offensive line can play if they can keep this rhythm going.
Q: Iowa's defense allowed Purdue just two trips to red zone with Purdue scoring just the one time. They were opportunistic and disciplined for the most part. Is this group growing up?
Hartlieb: It would be interesting to go back over the last two or three years to see how we have fared against aggressive, strong passing attacks on the road. Holding a team like that to 17 points, or 10 after the first drive, if we have had a better performance. I thought it was a tremendous day for the defense, from a technical standpoint in how they defended the spread, as well as the individual playmaking that was taking place.
It's one challenge to go against those spread teams with solid quarterbacks, but to do it on the road and come up with some huge plays…wow, what a turning point in the season if they can keep that up, because as we talked about before, that will be the main driver of success this year; how well they can defend the pass against three or four wide receiver screens.
Q: Purdue had 286 yards in the 1st half to just 159 in the second, and for it's second straight Big Ten road game, Iowa commits zero turnovers.
Hartlieb: That turnover story is huge. Special teams remain strong. I love Coach Parker's philosophy; let them move it 20 to 20. Nothing will hurt you if you give up two or three first downs, but we are going to play smart, sound football and come up and make some plays. We don't think you can do a 10, 12 play drive in that kind of offense. It has worked out great. Earlier this year, the running game hurt us, but they did a good job stopping the run this week.
Q: The offense is closer to hitting its stride and the Big Ten looks wide open, with the Hawks right there in the hunt. There are not too many dominant defenses on Iowa's schedule the rest of the way, in fact, there are none. What do you see there, and also your thoughts on Ed Hinkel perhaps being done for at least the rest of the regular season?
Hartlieb: It has to be difficult for the team and sad when you lose such a strong leader in Ed Hinkel. It is tough for all of those kids when it is your senior year to see a friend and a guy that has given so much. It looks like he is going to miss the rest of this season. That is tough and it is a blow from a leadership standpoint, and I am sure that his teammates are rallying behind him. I want to give my best to Ed.
Secondly, I would think looking at the Purdue situation, they will not finish in the top five in the conference. That would be my guess. So we still have to continue to build and get better from this point on and try to step up against one of these top three or four teams that we are going to be playing here in the next month. But the schedule sets up great, in my opinion. Having Michigan after Indiana, a bye week in there, let some other teams get beat up before we play them. Each one of those games the rest of the way looks like we could win or lose. It's an exciting time ahead. We felt at the start of the year that we caught a bad break on the schedule, but I don't feel guilty not having Michigan State and Penn State on there. My hat is off to Kirk and his staff from the standpoint that Hawkeye fans love the fact the potential of going 5-2 into the eighth game of the year verses loading up on a non conference game thinking that its our Super Bowl and laying out every formation and strategy to win the game, and not keep it going into the conference season. I would much rather be where Iowa is at than winning all of the non-conference games. I think we are in as good of shape as anything.
The last comment that I feel so positive might be that this is where Chris Doyle comes in. I think that this is where he makes a difference, in the second half of the season. The last three or four years, that has held true as far as conditioning and their bodies. We have the best guy in the conference to manipulate and keep our kids strong over the last month and a half here. That is another huge, huge advantage that we have that hopefully turns out to be as successful that it has been in past years.