Q: What do you see the rest of the way for Iowa?
Chuck Hartlieb: I look at the next two games as different style of games as we have been up against so far/ To me, Michigan and Ohio State try to out talent you, which does not necessarily scheme you or have any type of sophisticated passing offense to take advantage of your weaknesses. I think that these next two weeks are similar to our style of ball, in that they are games where coaching plays a significant role. Execution is much more important and it's more about the systems than it is about the talent that is on the field.
Not that there is not great talent, it's just that Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin have tremendous coaching staffs and have shown that their talent can consistently play at a high level with what they have. Michigan, especially on offense, is never going to out coach you but they will have NFL talent. I thought it was a real positive to see that Northwestern's system could be stopped. The way that game started out Saturday, it looked like they were going to go on a roll and it was going to be a 48-44 ball game. I loved the fact that we have a chance to take our coordinators and our style up against Coach Walker and his staff with two weeks to prepare and with how much it is important to us, I really am feeling pretty good about this game.
Q: What is the soft underbelly for Northwestern on both sides of the ball?
Hartlieb: I think the physicality of the game is critical. You have to establish the running game real quick and knock them off the ball, which I think we can do. Secondly, we have to get in Basanez's face. We spoke over the last few weeks that Coach Parker's style has worked out real well this year in that they don't have to put pressure on the quarterback for four quarters, but you have to bring it at the right time. I think that it would be interesting to see if we could bring pressure early in the game and late in the game. Basanez to me is a classic system type of quarterback.
He is not necessarily a first round NFL choice, but he has an unbelievable process, if you will, of reads, formations, check downs that really create a tremendous offense. It would be nice to get in his face a couple times early. A quarterback that has to worry a split second faster about pressure and getting hit, or cant set his feet perfectly or have his delivery altered just slightly; when you can get in his head early, you can have a lasting impact for four quarters. Often, you get into a guy's face for one or two series and he thinks about you for the next five or six even though you are not coming. It will be interesting to see what we do pressure wise in the first quarter and hopefully come with it later in the game.
The second thing defensively is we could choose a few strategies. I would think that we would probably bring six to eight schemes on defense to the game verses what we do often, which is just to say that we have some guys that are going to play fundamentally correct and only come at you with two or three schemes. It will be interesting to see what we have done over the last two weeks from a strategy standpoint, but I would think that we would assume, and that is what Michigan did, is that you have to give Basanez a different look almost every other snap. It confuses the receivers, the offensive line's schemes and most importantly, it keeps Basanez from getting into that rhythm
Q: I can tell when Iowa brings in an extra backer or defensive back, but you see schemes better than most. Do you think Iowa has played enough different schemes this year to where they can bring that much into a game plan and being a reactionary mode as opposed to a thinker's mode, which has you on your heels a bit?
Hartlieb: That is a great question. You don't want to do something that is not there. I think over the last three or four games, we have developed into a multifaceted defense. We were pretty straight forward against Ohio State, but we realized that we needed to mix it up more. I saw against Michigan that we did do a good job of disguising coverages and mixing things up on a series to series basis. With what we did against Michigan, I feel confident that that kind of theme could continue the next few weeks, which would be important.
Q: What challenges on defense does Northwestern pose for Iowa?
Hartlieb: Northwestern will play fundamentally sound. They have a good staff and some talent, but it does come down to us as an offensive putting together our best package of the year. It's really about execution. If you take 75 snaps, and if you execute 60 of them correctly as a team of 11, you put yourself at risk. You really want to come out of the game and say that you did 65 to 70 of those snaps or 95 percent were Big Ten winning football plays. I am sure that is what they have focused on since Michigan. They have to take it up one more notch from an execution standpoint. You have to have guys making the plays and wanting to get after it, while not letting down after the first quarter. I think our first quarters have been strong all year. There were some games with a strong second half, but we cannot replicate what we did against Michigan, where we were probably 60 out of 75 where it would not have been that hard to have been 70 out of 75.