Iowa/ISU: 6 Questions with the HN Staff

Each week, Jon Miller, Rob Howe, and Brian Finley set out 6 questions dealing with the upcoming game. See what the HN Staff thinks may happen in Ames on Saturday in this preview feature.

1. Will Iowa do more damage on the ground or in the air against ISU, and why?

Jon:  I think it will be through the air.  The ground game should put up better numbers than it did last week, due to the return of Kyle Calloway and Dace Richardson occupying on of the guard positions, and that should open up Iowa's play action game even more.  I think Iowa has quite a few weapons through the air this year, and perhaps they didn't open things up so much last week.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think Iowa was sitting on five or six new pass plays and we are not talking about the second coming of Texas Tech, but in the words of Clubber Lang, I think the Hawks have 'a lotta mo' to show.

Rob: I'll say by air. The running game is going to take a few weeks to get going with new backs and moving pieces on the O-Line. Iowa has more weapons in the passing game right now.

Brian: I'll say by air, as well, especially with the forecast looking brighter for Saturday. Even without a proven running back, ISU will probably stack the line and force a historically turnover-prone Stanzi to try and win the game through the air. I think Stanzi will respond, however, and hit some big throws.

2. Assuming Vandervelde finds his way to the field, healthy, on Saturday, who's the odd man out between Richardson, Vandervelde, and Doering at guard?

Jon:  I think Richardson will replace Gettis at guard, and if Vandervelde plays, Doering sits.  But I don't expect to see Vandervelde for much more than one series.

Rob: Doering would be the odd man out when Vandervelde gets back, but I still think Dan gets the start this week and gets spelled by Julian. Doeing really struggled against UNI. It's now or never for him.

Brian: Probably Doering, but I expect all the OL to take a big step forward, so when Dan does get time, I don't expect it to be as disastrous as it was at times against UNI.

3. Do the Hawks have the psychological edge leading into this year's game that ISU has enjoyed in the past?

Jon:  I am getting the sense they will have a chip on their shoulder.  That's something Iowa State has had more often than not in this series.  They are the team that comes into this game as double digit underdogs, and their coaches have played that to the hilt.  Iowa is still a touchdown favorite in this contest, but I think the Iowa coaching staff will play the low expectations card this week.  Getting dropped from the rankings will be one tool they can use to that end.

Rob: I can see why people would say that, but I don't agree with that view. ISU still comes in as the underdog with a decided home field advantage in this series during the last decade. If Iowa wins, it will be because it overcomes the emotion that ISU brings at the game's start and the Hawkeyes need to limit mistakes.

Brian: I don't think you can really tell who has the psychological edge until the two teams step on the field. That being said, I think this'll be the first time in a while that both teams are going to play solidly throughout. I expect a competitive game, without one team being more 'ready' than the other.

4. Which Stanzi do we see on Saturday, first-half Rick or second-half Rick from UNI?

Jon:  I think the second half Rick, but that doesn't mean he will be flawless for the entire game.  I just hope he recognizes that sometimes it's not a bad idea to throw a pass into the fourth row of the stands as opposed to trying to make something out of nothing every single time.

Rob: I worry about Stanzi in this one, but I think the truth falls somewhere in the middle. It's Rick's first start in Ames and Nathan Chandler is the only Hawkeye quarterback to taste recent victory at Trice. Stanzi has been prone to turnovers in his time as the starter and if that comes up again, Iowa is doomed.

Brian: I think second half Rick will show up earlier than the second half, but it may be a bumpy start. Hopefully the OL can give him the time he needs to find his receivers and get a little bit established on the ground, rather than forcing him to start chucking it around immediately.

5. If it does rain, which team does that favor?

Jon:  I think rain could cause Iowa State some trouble with their high tempo, no huddle offense.  Last week, their offensive linemen rarely blocked out of a three point stance.  It's hard to get downhill blocking in the running game from a squat stance, and a wet track might call for that. 

Rob: I think it favors ISU. Iowa's running game is not where it needs to be at this point, and the Hawks relied a lot on the passing game against UNI. The Cyclones have the better running game at this point.

Brian: Both teams could be affected pretty severely. Fortunately, the forecast is now for only a 30% chance of rain, so hopefully it holds off and both teams have steady footing.

6. Who is your pick to click?

Jon:  I am going to go with Tony Moeaki.  Yeah, he will be on Iowa State's radar, but I expect for Iowa State to be very aggressive on defense (go figure, right?) and that should leave some holes open across the middle, and deep down the middle.  ISU doesn't have a linebacker that can hang step for step with Moeaki one on one, few teams will this year, and I see Tony putting up more receiving yards this week than he did one week ago.

Rob: Adrian Clayborn. If Iowa is going to win this game, it's going to take pressure from its defensive front. Clayborn drove UNI nuts for much of the afternoon last week and I think he might get some heat on Arnaud as well.

Brian: Amari Spievey. It had to have been frustrating for Spievey, who showed excellent return skills during his stint in junior college, to not get much of an opportunity to return any kicks last week. On kickoffs, the Panthers angled away from him (until the final chance, when he and Paki both lined up in the middle of the endzone), and all punts were quite high and not returnable. I think he snags one pick and makes a big special teams play or two this week.

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