Q: What do you make of the schedule and how things are playing out for Iowa right now?
Chuck Hartlieb: I think the sequence of games and the way that Iowa is playing is impressive at first glance. Secondly, it's falling the way that an Iowa fan would want it to go right now. You could point out some flaws and problems with the Indiana game, but I would rather have the two turnovers in the third quarter against Indiana than against Iowa's next four foes. Some of those things have occurred, and some pass plays defensively that you think you could have stopped, you look at it and say thank you that it was against Indiana and not Michigan. It's good to pick up those things on film and raise the urgency level as far as getting rid of those mistakes for a big game like we have this week.
Q: Do you think there are any specific areas on defense that Iowa will focus on this week?
Hartlieb: When you have a defense set up the way that Coach Parker has, strategically, you are going to get yourself into plenty of third down situations. The one thing the rest of the way that will be important is to take that third down conversion ratio from 50 percent allowed down to a third or less. You are going to have a third or long two or three times in a big drive, Iowa needs to reduce that by 10 or 20 percent and make it easier on ourselves. Instead of giving up 12 plays for a field goal, we cut them off at midfield and making them punt. I really think that third down conversion ratio is an important statistic to analyze and hopefully they can reduce it in the coming weeks.
Q: What did you think of the 3-4 (Iowa's defensive alignment last week). Iowa was really not even rushing the three, as Matt Kroul was spying the quarterback in the middle of the field and the defensive ends were just bull rushing in their lanes to contain the quarterback?
Hartlieb: For the most part, it worked out all right. As much as anything, I like that Iowa is mixing it up defensively. The more looks we give, the more our next four opponents are going to have to focus on a lot during the course of a practice week. I don't know if it is something that they think is the new core piece for what they want, or if it's just another tweak that they gave Indiana that they had not seen much on film.
I like it; it's a great facet of an overall defensive attack. You mix in some blitzes, two or three packages along with that and it makes a lot of sense. I think Iowa underestimated how strong their big play receivers were. That is good to see before playing Michigan; Iowa will see three or four guys that are a level above that. If Iowa would have made a couple more plays downfield with the ball in the air, it would have even been better.
Q: Iowa attacked more downfield on offense than they have in recent weeks. Do you think it was something they noticed on tape or just how Indiana was playing?
Hartlieb: On the offensive side of the ball, I thought that Indiana's defense was tremendous. I don't think they felt like they had the talent to match up and go 11 on 11 for four quarters, and I saw a lot of different blitzes. When you do that, it gives you some one on one shots down field. I liked Iowa's aggressiveness and how they took it back to Indiana. Hopefully Iowa has it out of their system, the missed deep balls, because there were several that could have gone for some home runs. I don't think that was a part of Iowa's attack, rather, Indiana upping their blitzing in this game and we just said that if we are going to get one on one, let's go to the deep post or the sideline fade over the top.
Q: You were a teammate of Ronnie Harmon's for two years. Some people want to compare Albert Young to Harmon. Young is really producing in the passing game as well as running the ball well. What do you make of Young?
Hartlieb: Albert has that extra level. We talked about that a few weeks ago. It's an unbelievable threat when you have to respect that back coming out of the backfield, as a linebacker. I think that that Albert looks like one of the three best backs in the last 20 or 25 years, or it looks like it. He will only get better. He is smaller than Harmon in height, and Ronnie had hands as good as any wide receiver that has played at Iowa. Albert has quality hands, but it will be a while before he gets to Ronnie Harmon's level. Ronnie was one of a kind.
Q: You have talked some about Michigan. Would you have liked to have seen Michigan lose their game against Penn State?
Hartlieb: First of all, my viewpoint would be that Michigan winning or losing was not that relevant. What is more relevant to me is they have had to play Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and now they have to go on the road to Iowa. I think we are catching them at good time. Regardless, we have to play our best game on both sides of the ball. The question is, is our team capable of raising their level of play? Any game we have played to date probably is not going to result in a win against Michigan. However, I think that we still have that best game in us.
I think that it's setting up great for us. The 20 year anniversary of the 1985 game, the home winning streak, the crowd behind us, the team peaking, us pretty healthy; things are lined up well. We have the playmakers to get us a win. For some reason, some way some how, it's been traditional in the Iowa-Michigan game and we are overdue, I think that special teams is going to be the key to the game. I believe that our quality special teams, if they can continue to do what they have been doing…sure, there was a fumble on Saturday, but for the most part, huge accolades should go out to all special teams performers. They will have to be perfect this week. I have a feeling that a big special teams play will determine this game.
Another thing with this game, I remember well that Coach Fry would refer this game as the money game. It's a money game for the seniors, because when the NFL scouts come in, they don't ask for film from Indiana or Northwestern. They want to see Ohio State and Michigan to see how you are playing against the best. The juniors and seniors realize that. A guy like Drew Tate will say that this is where I step up or I don't. I think you will see him at the top of his game making plays on his home turf, being really aggressive out there. Iowa has to make some big plays offensively, and defensively, we have to take it up another notch to make sure that we get a few turnovers, lowering the third down conversion rate and getting after Chad Henne. If you get in his face early, I don't think he is as much of a ball player coming down the stretch.