Iowa Football Talk with Chuck Hartlieb

In this week's conversation with Chuck Hartlieb, the former Iowa star talks about the impressive performances on both sides of the ball from Iowa's win against Purdue, he talks about the challenge that faces Iowa when they travel to Indiana, and we also take a quick look ahead to Iowa's game against Michigan on October 21st...but just a quick look!

Q: Teams have been able to run on Purdue all year, but the offense really clicked last week.

Chuck Hartlieb: To me it was about four quarters. Keeping after it, being consistent and playing a complete game for four quarters. That had to be a fun day to watch that film, and feel like you played your first complete game of the year. It's a new season on the way and there is momentum going into the second week of the second season.

Q: Damian Sims and Shonn Greene had good games in place of the injured Albert Young. It's vogue right now to say that they should play ahead of Young. What are your thoughts on that?

Hartlieb: I think fans so often just think about when the ball is the back's hands. A complete running back not only hits holes and runs with the ball well, but he does not turn the ball over, he gets involved in the passing game and runs the correct route, and finally and maybe most important, is a solid pass blocker. Coach Ferentz and Coach Jackson will put the best guy out there that does all four things very well. Sims got a chance to show his stuff, but on the other hand, he regrets those two fumbles. That can turn around a game right there. We have three great backs and the best one is going to be on the field, we know that.

Q: Earlier in the year, we joked that Drew Tate played well against ISU and that he didn't need practice. But you really need it at this level, and he got it last week and looked sharp. Does that tell is that when he is close to 100 percent that this offense can be exponentially better than it has been prior to the Purdue game?

Hartlieb: A quarterback can miss a day or two for a few weeks here or there, but when you go five or six game weeks and are missing time each week, that has an impact on him and the offense. Not just on his ability to perform, but all 11 guys are feeding off of that one guy. I think you saw the results of that last week and hopefully he stays healthy the rest of the way. I hate to keep going back to wide receiver play, but as sharp as Tate was and the running game was, I think the wide receiver play just has to get better each week. I think we might have had one drop on Saturday, and as long as that continues, I think this could be a very explosive offense. We have a good drop back game, we have seen the waggle and the play action stuff that this team runs. Combine that with Sims and Greene back there, there is the potential to win every game. That consistency has to continue.

Q: We have not been as hard on the secondary as some. Last week they played against the most sophisticated offense that they will see all year, and they did quite well, plus the coaches surprised us with some nickel and dime looks.

Hartlieb: My mouth was wide open in that first half. I was really surprised. I thought that was the story of the weekend and it might be a really interesting issue to follow the rest of the year. Why do nickel after all these years of base defense? I can think of three reasons. One, nickel and dime packages protect your third string free safety. It takes pressure off and allows you to play thirds or quarters in the back end as much as maybe halves, which would take pressure off of Wilson. Number two, you want to completely throw off the Purdue offense, who all week prepared, I would bet, strictly for Iowa's traditional base defense. When a quarterback, an inexperienced quarterback comes out and sees five and six DB's., he is not feeling confident and he is adjusting. That was the second reason, and that worked so well. Lastly, and this is the most important piece; is Norm Parker giving us the message that he believes nickel and dime need to be a part of this defensive packages the rest of the season. We are not there Monday-Friday. I would bet that all three played a role, but it certainly will be interesting to see how we handle that fifth and sixth DB issue. I think Coach Parker has been extremely successful through the years, but going into the Michigan game, or any game when we have a nickel back on the slot receiver half the time, I think that allows us better opportunities to stop the third down conversion.

Q: That will give Indiana and their redshirt freshman quarterback a lot to prepare for this week.

Hartlieb: The simple theme is to keep it going. Not a quarter here or a series there, but lets put four quarters together on both sides again. If you are the type of team that can run the table from here on out, you have to play another complete game this week. There are all kinds of things to play for, and there was inconsistency on both sides the first five weeks. Hopefully it all builds towards Ann Arbor.

Q: What are the challenges of playing at Indiana?

Hartlieb: The first thing that comes to my mind on Indiana is that this will be the most flat game of the year. It is very difficult for a team to walk into a stadium after having Ohio State and Purdue and those environments to go into a crowd like Indiana. To avoid a flat start and be able to have the engines revved after some big games this year, I think that will be interesting to see what type of character this team has. Compare Hoosier Stadium to Kinnick Stadium, and it's a ghost town over there. I like to watch the character of the team in these situations and it will be interesting to see the level of play.

Q: So the visiting team can feed off of that opposing home crowd?

Hartlieb: Oh yeah; the atmosphere, the aura. You go walk around on Friday and you say what the heck kind of a stadium is this? It looks like a glorified high school stadium. Then an hour before kickoff, there are only 10,000 in the stands up to 10 minutes before. It's tough to get your juices flowing. Marv Cook and I disagree; Marv thinks it should be easy to get up for a 12 game season. I think there are three or four points that stray away from the norm, that it's difficult to get that heart rate going.

Q: Michigan receiver Mario Manningham will be out this week, and he could miss the Iowa game. Do you think that really affects them significantly?

Hartlieb: I have always viewed the Michgian offense as a one or two receiver scheme offense. It has been Manningham-Breaston to a Breaston-Arrington combination. I think it's huge from the standpoint that they have one less playmaker to play jump ball in the corner of the endzone. But is it a big drop-off from there? Probably not. I think the better story is Shada and Godfrey. They are now getting into the mature stage. They had their first four or five games out of the way, and they are playing with more confidence, they know what to do ‘situationally'. The key is have they elevated their play to a different level for the second half? I am thinking they have. They were tentative the first few games, but I saw a very confident defensive backfield this past weekend. When they go into Michigan, I hope that continues.

Q: We will save bulk of that for next week, but based on what you saw last week and if Iowa keeps rolling this week, do you feel better about the Michigan game than you did a few weeks ago?

Hartlieb: I definitely do. We have matched up well with them. This Indiana game is important for one theme, and that is momentum. This team needs a lot of confidence, primarily in their pass offense. No turnovers, no drops and get that passing game going, because Michigan's front seven is a bear and we will have to pass well in a hostile environment.

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