PURDUE'S FIRST DRIVE
Purdue won the toss and elected to receive…it's the first time Iowa kicked off to start a game since last year against Purdue in Iowa City. Perhaps Joe Tiller looks to get Iowa out of its routine, or he just wanted to set the pace with his offense out of the chute?
On the first play of scrimmage, Kirk Ferentz could be heard yelling ‘There's two guys in motion! Two guys in motion!' The media and fans see the mild mannered Kirk at press conferences and such, but former players and those who observe practice have told me that Kirk has that ‘coach voice' that will make a grown man weak in the bladder. You could hear it booming from the on field mike. If you have the game recorded, go listen.
On the second play from scrimmage, Matt Kroul was held badly as he stopped Kory Sheets up the middle. Sheets bounced out left and Kroul was in the area to make a play for no gain, but a Purdue lineman grabbed Kroul's jersey behind his head, stopping him in his tracks. There was no call on the play, and Sheets gained 15 yards.
On Purdue's touchdown, a 15 yard run outside left, Iowa had a corner blitz called…Antwan Allen, the play side of the snap. His angle was to the quarterback, not to the ball carrier. Sheets was the first option on that option play, and Kirsch kept the ball in his belly. Allen was out of the play, and Sheets scored untouched.
Each of Purdue's plays on their first drive came out of the shotgun. In fact, all non-kicking plays for the Boilers on Saturday came out of the gun, including all of their run plays.
IOWA'S FIRST POSSESSION
The third play of Iowa's drive was third down and ten to go. Tate was out of the gun, had good time and a good passing lane on the right side. It was a three receiver set with Albert Young leaking out into a route. The ball went to Solomon who showed great concentration. Solomon would say after the game that he thought the safety was going to get that ball, but must have taken a bad angle. That is what happened, and Solomon focused and brought that ball in, something he has not always done with consistency in his career. 78 yards later, he scored. Purdue dropped seven defenders into pass coverage on that play, rushing just the four down linemen. Purdue did not blitz very much on the day, quite a departure from recent Iowa-Purdue games.
As some of you noticed, Solomon ran with the ball on that play and his later touchdown basically palming the ball with one hand. Not tucked into his body, rather as if he were running with a grape fruit. He must have some pretty big hands to do that…and I suspect he will hear about it.
PURDUE'S SECOND POSSESSION
Sheets ran inside and Mitch King made first contact one yard behind the line of scrimmage, but could not wrap. There was no gain on the play.
PU picked up nine yards through the air on second down, then on 3rd and 1, Mattison shed his blocker and made a great stop for a three and out.
At this point, the signal from ESPN faded. It was around 3:55pm CDT. I was watching the Astros-Braves game at the exact same time on Sunday, and that game faded as well, as did ESPN2.
IOWA'S SECOND DRIVE
The signal came back on with Iowa in 3rd and 13. Tate was in the gun and threw to Solomon on the right side, all the while having to know that a defender was bearing down on him on his front side. He threw the ball perfectly and took a whack and was slow getting up. Solomon leapt to make a great grab for a 17 yard gain.
Iowa drove the ball well on this drive, with Albert Young getting some 10+ YAC (Yards after Contact). Iowa had 1st and goal at the four when they lined up in a jumbo set. Just one receiver wide left, two tight ends and a power ‘I' formation. Every tendency Iowa has shown over the years here leads to a run. Iowa play faked to Young and Ryan Majerus leaked out into the left corner of the end zone. Newly converted wide receiver to corner Ray Williams bit on the run fake and was nowhere near Majerus. Great call by Ken O'Keefe, and a good job of selling the run fake by Iowa. 14-7 Hawks.
PURDUE'S THIRD DRIVE
This was the drive where Greenway plastered Kirsch in a head to head hit, and announcer Chris Spielman about came out of the booth wanting to get into the game after seeing contact like that. It was an eight yard gain, bringing up third and two.
On the next play, Kirsch threw a pass to Dorien Bryant and he dropped what would have been a first down. The drive stalled at the Iowa 27, and Purdue had been moving it well. Ben Jones missed the 44-yard field goal. A big time bullet was dodged.
IOWA'S THIRD DRIVE
On 1st and 10, Tate tried to hit Chandler underneath on the waggle. It was incomplete. Ed Hinkel was wide open on the same sideline 30 yards downfield, or at least appeared to be from the vantage point we were given.
On 2nd and 10, PU blitzed a safety on Tate's right side, the same side that Solomon was lined up wide on. Solomon ran a skinny post and Tate hit him quick for a gain of 16. Last year in Iowa City, Purdue ran a similar blitz and intercepted the pass…same side of the field, same intended receiver. I need to go watch that tape again, but I think they came with a corner blitz and Tate jumped on it and they rolled a safety under.
Iowa ran two plays that produced a net zero, so they were again faced with a 3rd and 10. Tate found Hinkel on an underneath post and Hinkel found a seam and was off to the races. Had he bounced to the right of Herb Grigsby's block, he might have taken it to the house. As it turned out, it was a gain for 43 to the Purdue 14, and it was the play that perhaps ended Hinkel's Iowa career.
This was the second to last play of the first quarter, and Purdue running back Sheets had nine carries and 59 yards. He would get two more carries in the 2nd quarter and just five carries total in the second half. Why Purdue abandoned the running game is a head scratcher. They had a much better average yards per carry in the first half than Iowa (they averaged 5.9 yards per carry to Iowa's 2.5) but had just nine second half rushing attempts…and the game was close for much of the second half.
Iowa's drive stalled and Kyle Schlicher kicked a field goal.
One thing to note from the first quarter plus about four plays is that Iowa faced at least one third and 10 or longer on each drive and converted them all, leading to 17 points. That was very reminiscent to last year's team seemingly coming up with huge third and long conversions in each and every game down the stretch.
The tone was set and the Hawks certainly looked good. But the Hawkeye offense went into a funk and would not score again until 19 minutes and 56 seconds of game time had elapsed…again, very similar to last year. Iowa jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead (their final point of the first quarter came as time expired) and did not score again until the 13:15 mark of the fourth quarter.
Now for some general observations…
On the next PU drive, they had 1st and 10 at the Iowa 49. Once again, Kirk Ferentz's voice could be heard, as Bryant moved in the slot before the snap, an easy illegal procedure call. It was not made. This was the play where the cameras focused on Ferentz going ballistic on the sidelines. "Nine moved! Nine moved! Damn it can't you see that!?!?!" Kirk was right on this one for sure. There was no gain on the play, and Alex Willcox stopped Kirsch for no gain on 2nd down. Third down was where Antwan Allen jumped the route on Purdue's big 6-9 receiver and broke up the play and hurt his ankle. Greenway blitzed inside on that play and was handled by the Boiler blockers.
On Iowa's next drive, you might recall the play where Young was stopped for a loss, but spun then jumped over Brian Ferentz on the ground and gained six yards on second and three. A great effort play by AY, and I also think that Kirk or some coach yelled in from the sideline as Tate took his pre-snap read. They yelled some word that I could not make out, then ‘call it!', as if they saw the audible for the defense. Tate audibled into Young's run on that play.
Iowa punted on that drive, being fair caught at the PU ten. He had close to five seconds hang time on that punt.
On Purdue's next drive, Jovon Johnson was lined up at Allen's corner position, with Adam Shada taking Johnson's spot. It was the drive where Johnson nearly had INT #17 for his career, but the Purdue receiver interfered with him.
Allen would later come in on that drive and on 3rd and 8 from the PU 25, Bryant dropped a catchable pass from Kirsch. The Hawks made a lot of their breaks on the day, but Purdue gave them some, too.
Question: How many times are teams going to fall for Tate's hard count on 4th and 1 or 3rd & 1? That is like the third time that has worked in less than two years. Brian Ferentz deserves a nod for making the snap when he saw the encroachment.
Iowa ran a 3-4 set in the first half with Mike Humpal in as the fourth linebacker. His key caught a pass for a first down.
On the third play of the third quarter, Iowa ran the waggle to the right. Majerus was the underneath dragger on that play, and the linebacker had to chose to cover Majerus and let Tate run, or go after Tate. He went after Tate and Drew flicked a pass over his head to Majerus for a 12-yard gain. That play is sort of like an option if the defense is in a certain set. Pick your poison.
Also on that drive, a rather non-descript six yard run by Damien Sims revealed something about Marshal Yanda, or confirmed it. He went down fairly early into his block, but while on the ground, he sort of barrel-rolled away from the play side and made sure that his man could not pursue from the backside. I love this guy.
Tate made several good decisions on the day throwing the ball away, or running out of bounds instead of forcing the action. He also got out of some trouble with his feet. This game was the first sign of the Drew Tate of 2004 that we have seen in full force. The Illinois game was a teaser.
Do you wonder if Solomon were 100 percent that he might have gotten to that fade route in the end zone that was just one yard out of his grasp?
That is probably nit picking, because Solomon left it all on the field, doing his best Willis Reed impersonation. The block that he threw on Tate's scramble was fierce. He missed the next play, but came back in to catch an 18 yard sideline fade route his first play back in the game.
On that same drive, which started at the 7:14 mark of the third quarter, Tate went to Grigsby on 2nd and goal from the nine. Herb dropped the slant route pass that might hae been six. Tate immediately ran to Grigsby and patted him on the helmet with words of encouragement. That was nice to see.
On the next play, after two Iowa five-yard penalties, their only infractions of the game, with Tate scrambling for his life, he hit Grigsby for a 14 yard gain. Tate immediately ran to Grigsby and praised his efforts.
Excellent leadership, and a contrast from the spiking incident we saw at Columbus just two weeks prior.
Purdue had three drives in the third quarter; one was a three and out for no gain and less than a minute of the clock and one was a four and out that ran off: 45 seconds.
Iowa's zone running play really worked well on the day. Young is a very good runner in this scheme, with good cutback vision. The line was very much in synch for the majority of the game playing against a veteran front.
Here is something to chew on…Purdue returned all 11 starters on defense from a year ago, and that defense was pretty darn good. Yes, they have some injuries in the secondary.
Take a look at Iowa's offensive production against Purdue in recent years:
2001: 207 yards (@Purdue)
2002: 384 (@Iowa)
2003: 301 (@Purdue)
2004: 321 (@Iowa)
Iowa had 178 net rushing yards on Saturday, and I don't even need to look it up to say that it's the most rushing yards against Purdue under Kirk Ferentz. But I had to look it up, and I noticed that in the 2001 and 2003 visits to West Lafayette, Iowa had 33 net yards rushing in each of those games. A worthless stat, but interesting nonetheless.
I will close with Iowa's interception late in the game. The intended receiver had bracket coverage. Greenway was with the tight end the entire time…he must have learned from film study and/or getting beat by tight ends earlier in the year. He was there all the way and got his hand up at the perfect time. Miles was in the area and made a nice juggling play.
The fitting ‘end' to this game was the phantom snap to Kirsch that he never saw. The slow motion replay was classic. The ball was by Kirsch's ear before he even saw it, and he noticed that the center no longer had the ball. Kirsch looked left, then right, then turned around and saw Purdue's Big Ten title hopes bouncing out of the back of the end zone.