6 Questions with the HI Staff

Each week, the HI Staff sits down to answer some questions about this week's matchup. See what Rob Howe and Brian Finley have to say about Saturday's game against the Spartans.

1. Iowa has not won in East Lansing since 1995. Do historical trends like these mean much when considering who will win this week?

Rob: I really don't think so. Michigan State has been off the schedule at times in this decade. Yes, the 2003 and 2008 Iowa teams could have, maybe should have, won in East Lansing, but those were pretty good Spartan teams. The games in '99 and '01 were during Iowa's rebuilding process. The Hawkeyes have won seven of the last 11 contests in the series, and these teams usually match up pretty well. The tough times in Columbus concern me a lot more than some tough times in East Lansing.

Brian: Not really. If one team had been a historically dominant program, then maybe. But Michigan State and Iowa have matched up pretty evenly most years, with a few plays determining each year's result. What makes it even more baffling is that East Lansing isn't a particularly intimidating place to play. Doesn't have the 'awe' factor that comes with the Shoe or the Big House.

2. Who is the better middle linebacker - Greg Jones or Pat Angerer?

Rob: That's a tough call. I think if you asked a national analyst, he would say Jones because he projects as a more sure-fire NFL pick. I think both guys are the keys to what their teams do on defense and both likely will be first-team all-conference selections this season. I'll give Jones the slight edge. He's averaging 12.1 tackles per game with five sacks. Angerer is not far off with 9.7 tackles a contest. I'd pick Jones just based on play so far this season, but I wouldn't trade Angerer for him straight up if I was Iowa. Angerer is one of the main leaders on the Hawkeyes. I suspect Jones fills that role for the Spartans as well, but I can't imagine him doing a better job at it than Pat does.

Brian: I don't know much about the tradition of linebacker at Michigan State, but the starting middle linebacker for the Iowa Hawkeyes has always been an emotional leader, setting the tone for the defense, the way the team approaches the game. Angerer fills that role perfectly. He may be undersized, he may never start at MLB in the NFL, but for a team that's going to win games like Iowa has this year, I can't imagine anyone other than Angerer in that role.

3. Iowa has some options when it comes to wide receiver this season. Who are Iowa's Top 2 wide outs?

Rob: I really like how Marvin McNutt has burst onto the scene this year. He has a world of potential. However, I think we saw at Wisconsin that Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Trey Stross are Iowa's top tandem. You could make an argument that tight end Tony Moeaki is the team's best wide receiver, but we'll go with the guys that actually play the position. Johnson-Koulianos and Stross are the most well-rounded WRs on the team. They run clean routes, they understand the hots, they block. I like the potential of McNutt and Davis, but the upperclassmen are tops right now.

Brian: Derrell Johnson Koulianos is #1, obviously. Trey Stross and Ricky Stanzi sometimes seem a little out of sync, but when they are, he's definitely the second option. Stross has been able to stay healthy so far this year (knock on wood) and that's given him a bit more consistency in route running and confidence to lay out and snag a few tough catches.

4. Adam Robinson seems to be taking charge of the RB situation, with better productivity lately. If you were KF, would you shift more carries his way?

Rob: I like both guys. Kirk Ferentz mentioned on Tuesday that on tape the line and other offensive players performed at a higher clip when Robinson was in the game against Wisconsin than when Brandon Wegher received his reps. I say, so with the hot hand. And it wouldn't surprised me to see Wegher catch fire in one of these games.

Brian: I think they both feed off of each other. Robinson seems to have a bit easier time reading blocks between the tackles and getting through the hole, while Wegher may have a bit more raw speed. Until one of them starts making some sort of negative contribution, why change what's working?

5. Do you believe the coaches and players when they say they don't focus on or give any thought to the increased national exposure ater the BCS was released?

Rob: I definitely think the coaches feel that way. I also think most of the upperclassmen and leaders see it that way. The trick is to keep some of the young contributers in line and to show the guys that aren't playing right now that this is the way Iowa succeeds. I think that may have been lost on some of the players earlier in this decade and that cost the Hawkeyes. This team has the right attitude. Do some of the guys peak at ESPN or what's written about them on the internet? Sure. But I don't get the feeling it's going to anyone's head.

Brian: I believe that they notice it, but this team has a mental toughness that we haven't seen in a while. Whether it's a turnover or blown defensive assignment, it doesn't affect the team; mental stress doesn't linger. The same thing applies to positive energy. This team knows they have a long way to go to playing their best football, and a #6 ranking in the BCS isn't going to change their mind on that one.

6. Who is your pick to click?

Rob: Rick Stanzi. He really struggled in this game last year, so he'll be motivated cancel out that memory. I really like how at ease Stanzi looked at Wisconsin last week. He also looked relaxed at Penn State. I think he might like the challenge of the road venues in the Big Ten.

Brian: Tony Moeaki. Greg Jones can't cover everyone. Tony's going to find some room up the seam.


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