The Iowa Hawkeyes certainly look like a better team through two games of 2008 compared to two games last year. But do the numbers bear it out? We take a look at some side by side comparisons of 2-0 Iowa 2008 versus 2-0 Iowa 2007, plus a look ahead to Iowa State in this feature...
The Hawkeyes have given their fans plenty of reasons to be excited this year, yet some fans are still leery after last year's 2-0 start, a pasting of Syracuse where the offense looked very good, heading into the third game of the season against IowaState.
This year, the game against the Clones is in Iowa City, so that is +1 for the Hawks right there.Here is a look at some key statistical categories from last year through two games against Northern Illinois and Syracuse
1st Downs '074219
Rush Yards '0736845
Rush Yards '08486193
Pass Yards '07423293
Pass Yards '08483245
Total Off. '07791338
Total Off. '08969438
Avg Yds/Gm '07395.5169
Avg Yds/Gm '08484.5219
3rd Down 45%19%
3rd Down 42%32%
Sacks By '0793
Sacks By '0871
Touchdowns Scored '0770
Touchdowns Scored '08110
1st Quarter Points '07140
1st Quarter Points '08350
Before I talk about the numbers, I will provide some Sagarin ratings for the opposition.Northern Illinois and Syracuse were Iowa's first two opponents last year, and each team finished with a record of 2-10.NIU finished the year ranked 150th while Syracuse was 113 in the Sagarin Ratings.Maine is currently ranked 149th while Florida International is 162nd.
Iowa is scoring more points this year, and those points have been easier to come by.And we all know that Iowa could have scored another three or four touchdowns on Saturday, and that is being nice.They could have tacked on at least 14 more points against Maine, again, being nice.Iowa rested its starting offensive unit midway through the fourth quarter of the Syracuse game last year, and the starting groups played the entire game against Northern Illinois and managed 16 points.Iowa's first team defense has not surrendered a point this season.
Iowa has scored on its first possession in two straight games.They had not scored on their first possession of a game since the 2006 season, prior to the Maine game.So that is an encouraging sign.
Iowa's first down numbers are way up this year, and would be up even more, but they have let off the gas in both games.Iowa's third down percentage is close to the same as last year, but there have been four or five instances late in games where Iowa didn't really attack on third down to go for a conversion, so its ‘real' third down conversion percentage is better this year.
Iowa is averaging nearly 100 more yards per game on offense this year, and again, that number could be significantly higher.They had 338 at halftime the other day, and they have let off the gas in two of their eight quarters of play.
Iowa is running the ball more effectively this year, but they have given up more rushing yards.I think the latter has to do with a couple of things;they have gone against two spread teams, and it's easier to run the ball out of spread formations (unless you have the 2002 Iowa offensive line) and 2) the starting defense has played about four quarters out of the eight.I am not worried about that statistic, because the ground yards are tougher to get in the red zone.
Iowa has committed just six penalties thus far in 2008 compared to 14 through two games of 2007.That is the sign of a more mature team, a more disciplined team.
The offensive line has allowed just one sack in two games, but they had allowed just three sacks in the first two games of 2008.That means that over the final 10 games, Iowa allowed 44 sacks, or 4.4 per game.I would expect that number to be cut close to 50% this season.
Through two games last year, Iowa had posted six plays that accounted for 20 or more yards.This year they have doubled that total, with 12.
None of us needs statistics to tell us that this year's team appears to be better than last year's team, offensively. But it's fun to look at the numbers from time to time.
-Rick Stanzi is #1 in the Big Ten with a passing efficiency rating of 200.28.That number is 6th in the nation, but he is not yet recognized in the national rankings due to not having 15 attempts per game; he is two shy in that mark.
-Shonn Greene is 15th in the nation (2nd in the Big Ten) with 119.50 rushing yards per game
-Andy Brodell is 25th in the nation in punt return average with 14.71 yards per return
-Iowa is tops in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in tackles for loss per game
-Iowa is 24th in total offense and 19th in total defense in the national rankings
-Iowa is 6th in passing efficiency defense nationally
-Iowa is 2nd nationally in scoring defense at 1.50 per game.FloridaState has a shutout in one game.
-Iowa is 9th nationally in sacks per game and 12th nationally in fewest sacks allowed per game.
-ISU is 60th in total offense and 77th in total defense nationally
-ISU is 104th in rushing defense nationally (204 yards per game)
-ISU is 2nd nationally in turnover margin
-ISU is 11th nationally in kickoff return average
-ISU kicker Grant Mahoney is 5th nationally with 2.5 field goals per game (5 of 6)
All of this being said, the ‘real' portion of the football season begins Saturday and does not have a let up until the final whistle at the Metrodome in November.