6 Questions with the HN Staff

Each week, the HN Staff sits down to talk about that week's matchup. See what Rob Howe, Jon Miller, and Brian Finley had to say about the game with Michigan.

1. Why do people get so worked up over Black Out vs Gold Rush vs White Out?  Do you care?

Jon: I prefer the gold, to be perfectly honest.  It looks better on TV, and I wish that Iowa Iowa retailers would provide more all weather clothing options with the gold being featured.  But it's tough to argue with the sales numbers of gold on black.  In this instance, I think Iowa made the right call.  The temperatures are going to be low Saturday night, and Iowa officials paid close attention to what fans were wearing last week, as it was chilly.  Black was the predominant color, and if you didn't know better, you might have thought a blackout had been called for the Arkansas State game.  Now, if the fans all wore black ski masks to the blackouts, I would be down with that.

Rob: I'll answer the second question first. No, I do not care. That leads me to the first question. Because I don't care, I'm not really sure why people so worked up. My guess is that it's because the Iowa fans care so much and are so passionate about their team that even the little things matter a lot.

Brian: Everyone thinks they have a better opinion. The fact that there has been very little positive reaction to anything Iowa Sports Marketing has done with regards to basketball doesn't help either. Personally, I like the gold. Hate the black. But I don't know that it really has that much affect on the game.

2. Michigan's offense, thus far this season, is almost exactly 1:1 pass/rush ratio.  Which is more important for Iowa to stop on Saturday?

Jon: More important than stopped the run or throw is bringing down whomever has the ball at first contact.  Iowa needs to tackle cleanly and crisply in this game.  If they do, they will win, barring a horrible turnover performance.  Michigan can kill you in the slots if you don't wrap up, as they have speed burners.

Rob: The run. I'll kind of cheat a little bit here and say that it includes letting Forcier to scramble around forever until the coverage breaks down. You need to make Forcier beat you with his arm, not his legs. 

Brian: Run, any day of the week. Iowa has given up yards on the ground, but when the ball's in the air, there's a good chance a Hawkeye is coming down with it. Especially with a young quarterback, if you can put all the pressure on him, it's going to be a fun night for the Hawks.

3. Michigan coming to Iowa City has always been an event unto itself and this year it's under the lights on national television. Even though Michigan is a program in transition, does this game still have the same 'juice' to it than in years past?

Jon: While it's still Michigan, and the fans will be extra vocal because of that, it's always fun when both teams are in the national spotlight.  But I won't complain; Michigan is going to get back up there starting next year.  Beat them while you can, and remind them that when you play Iowa, you had better have the chin strap on and your mouthpiece in.  As Norm Parker told his charges before the 2003 game, if this were a street fight, we'd beat their A*@.

Rob: I don't think so as far as the week leading up to the game. It's been pretty mellow in town for a homecoming game against the Wolverines. That said, when a packed house at Kinnick sees those famous helmets come out of the visiting tunnel and that sight mixes with the lubrication they've fed all day, the game time atmosphere will be electric.

Brian: I think so. Obviously Michigan isn't a national title contender like they have been in the past, but it's still one of the best programs ever to take the field, and any time you add the night-game atmosphere, homecoming, and 1 loss between them,it's going to be a great energy.

4. Where do you believe Michigan ranks among Big Ten teams Hawkeye fans dislike?

Jon: I don't think very high at all.  Maybe I am wrong about this, and this is certainly a personal opinion for everyone.  I think Iowa fans may like beating Michigan as much if not more than anyone else, but as for dislike, their fan base probably doesn't care much about Iowa at all, so relationships are civil.  

Rob: I feel like a little luster is off the animosity since Michigan struggled last year and lost a week ago at Michigan State. Then, I was in Target today and heard an Iowa fan tell a guy wearing a Michigan hat that Michigan sucks. The Wolverines have been elite for a long, long time and Iowa fans just seem to have more juice for this one than maybe Ohio State and Penn State. Maybe that's because the games with Michigan seem to be real competitive. Ohio State has owned Iowa and the Hawkeyes have a great run going against the Nittany Lions.

Brian: Probably 3rd or 4th. Minnesota and Wisconsin are the two natural most hated, then it just depends on whether you want to hate the "best" teams (Ohio State and Michigan) or go with the personal vendetta (Illinois and Northwestern.)

5. Is Michigan "back" or close to being "back"?

Jon: I think their offense is one year away from putting them in the 10-win category.  That being said, I don't think we are going to see the old dominant Michigan defenses under Rich Rodriguez.  Their offensive tempo and the lack of time of possession that offense will produce will put more pressure on their defense and make them a little more vulnerable.  However, if you are scoring 30 to 35 a game in this league, like I think Michigan may start doing next year, the other team has to keep up.  

Rob: If we're talking late '90s, no way. The jury is still out on Rich Rod. His offense has taken a step forward, but his defense is making Bo turn over in the grave. To me, Michigan, at this pace, is still a few years from being a Top 10 team, if they get there at all.

Brian: I think they'll be "back" in new years day bowls next year. They need to get their defense figured out though.

6. Who is your pick to click?

Jon: Brett Greenwood.  I think he is going to have to play a factor in the tackling game in the flats on some short plays.  He needs to be fundamentally sound.  He might not lead the stat sheet this game, but if he just does his job, he might be the most important man on the field, along with Tyler Sash.

Rob: I'll go with Amari Spievey this week. I think Iowa forces Forcier into mistakes and the kid doesn't know better than to pick on one of the best cover corners in the Big Ten. 

Brian: Brandon Wegher. He'll finally scoot past that last defender putting a 30+ yard TD run on the board.

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