6 Questions with the HN Staff

Each week, the HN Staff sits down to talk about the match-up. See what Jon Miller, Rob Howe, and Brian Finley think may happen this week.

1. Kirk Ferentz acknowledged on Tuesday that he believes in the 'Trap Game' theory.  Do you think Iowa plays flat against Arkansas State?

Jon: I think there is a decent chance of that.  I expect a score in the 27-6 range for this game.  That's still a 21 point win, which is right at the number Las Vegas came out with for an opening line for this game.  I hope to see an improved passing attack, as ASU is horrible against the pass.  If a 21 point win is a ‘let down', you know you have a good football team.

Rob: This is a tough question because unless the Hawkeyes cover a spread of almost three touchdowns, some critics will see it as a letdown. I don't think there will be a lack of effort. This team is pretty grounded. They'll play hard and win.

Brian: I don't think so.  Ferentz mentioned on his radio show that this has been the best week of practice thus far, which is always a good thing to hear after a huge win.  The fact that Stanzi seems to be such an even-keel leader, that goes both ways.  He's not going to get down about a few picks, and he's not going to get too cocky about a huge win like Penn State.

2. There has been a lot of speculation on how good this year's defensive line is.  Rank the top three defensive lines of the Ferentz era.

Jon: 2004 is the standard bearer, in my opinion.  Jonathon Babineaux had 25 tackles for loss that year, more than any player in the nation save one from Marshall.  Matt Roth was on the edge, so you were talking about an impressive inside-outside tandem.  After that, I'd go with the 2008 defensive front followed by 2003, then 2002 and this year's group after that.  However, this year's front four are coming on strong, and I am talking about some of the best defensive lines in college football during the past decade when I talk about those past Iowa fronts.

Rob: I can't put this year's line in the Top 3 yet because its only four games into the season. As Kirk would say, it has a chance.

Brian: I think this year's DL is being helped out a ton by the amount of athleticism and smarts sitting in the back 7.  Between the help they have behind them, and the different schemes and blitzes Norm Parker has shown so far, they're getting a bit more help than the 2004 squad did.

3. How impressed are you with the Iowa win at Penn State and is talk about a possible national championship a bit premature?

Jon: I am impressed with how they dominated the Penn State offensive line, but I am not altogether surprised they won by 11 points.  In our preseason Iowa preview magazine, I predicted Iowa would win 24-13, which is 11 points.  Then Iowa lost Jewel Hampton, and I felt PSU might get the win.  But after seeing Robinson and Wegher, I went back to feeling Iowa would pull it out by three.  But I did not expect the Iowa defense to destroy Penn State.  Talk of a national championship appearance is a lot of fun and I won't tell anyone to back away from it, but don't take it out on the team ‘if' they lose again and your unrealistic dreams get shattered.  That would be on you.

Rob: Anytime you win in front of almost 110,000 fans in an opponent's stadium, it's impressive. Having said that, the Nittany Lions have some serious holes on offense and clearly were overrated. I'm more impressed with what Iowa did last season against PSU. The national championship discussion at this point of the season is a bit nutty.

Brian: It's nutty, but only because the Iowa defense isn't going to do THAT every week.  If it did, then yeah, it would make sense.  But to force 4 turnovers, score a defensive touchdown, and get that much pressure up front every week is a bit much to ask.

4. With the emergence of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher, what happens when Jewel Hampton returns next season?

Jon: He competes for playing time with those two.  Jewell is a physically gifted back, and we had a glimpse of some of the things he can do.  IF he comes back 100 percent, he is definitely in the mix.  However, there is no guarantee that he will be 100 percent next year and if Robinson and Wegher keep improving, they will be tough to keep off the field.  We all see what they are doing running the ball, the offensive line should be very good again next season, but their blocking ability has been very impressive for their age.  Plus, neither of them has fumbled the ball yet.

Rob: It's time to install the triple option offense. Seriously though, it's not something to be overly concerned with this year. But it is intriguing to think about. A backfield duo is pretty common, but three men splitting carries is rare. I would expect this to be a huge story line next spring and summer, and it will be fun to see how it plays out. It sure beats the alternative of not having anyone to tote the pigskin.

Brian:  I haven't a clue.  Maybe Wegher will transition to a Percy Harvin type role?  5 rushes from the RB position, 3 handoffs from the wideout spot, KR/PR, and 2 or 3 catches a game from the slot?

5. If Iowa is up by 3 or 4 scores mid third quarter, will Ferentz leave Stanzi and the first-team offense on the field to try and build some of the chemistry that's been missing so far this season?

Jon: If it's three scores, yes.  If it's four scores, I think you see a healthy substitution in that quarter.  I really think the chemistry aspects for the offense will take place on the practice field, and you can control contact there.  You can't control that in a game, and while winning is the most important thing Saturday, staying healthy is a close second.

Rob: I think Iowa needs to get Vandenberg and/or Weinke some work. I like the idea of the first unit building chemistry, but if it's that much better than Arkansas State, I'm not sure running it up in the fourth quarter helps much. I'd also like to see some of the backup defenders some work.

Brian: I hope that Ferentz leaves Stanzi and his first-team offense in as long as they need to get something going.  If that happens in the first half, that's fine, but I'd be pretty disappointed if we didn't see a pretty sizeable jump in stats this week.  I know Michigan doesn't play a damn bit of defense, but it's still a Big Ten opponent.

6. Who is your pick to click?

Jon: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.  I think he goes for more than 100 yards receiving with at least five receptions, including a TD reception of more than 30 yards.

Rob: I'll take a stab with Stanzi. After facing tough defenses in Arizona and Penn State the last two weeks, I think he relishes the opportunity to face a softer opponent. He looked much more on his game in Happy Valley and this week his receivers hang onto the rock.

Brian: Prater.  I think he'll be seen as the 'weak' spot by the Arkansas State quarterback who'll need to start chucking it around to try and stay in the game.  I look for him to snatch at least one, maybe two picks.

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