IOWA CITY — The Iowa Hawkeyes are 2-1 and looking to pick up steam heading into B10 Conference play next week at Minnesota. The Hawks host their second MAC opponent this season in Western Michigan (0-3) on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. The Broncos are facing their third B10 opponent this season but should get busted because of the following five reasons:
“Johnny Weisman” – Iowa is averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, which has the Broncos more than a little nervous. Mark Weisman is third in the nation in total rushing yards at 425 – and he’s a former fullback. Throw in shifty Damon Bullock as a change of pace back and the Hawkeyes should continue to pile up the yards against a porous Broncos defensive line.
“Historically, if you can’t run the ball at any level, at some point it’s going to catch up to you,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It helps if you can run, and if you can’t stop the run, it’s going to be a tough game and a tough season.”
Jake the Snake – The sophomore quarterback from Weston, Fla., has been efficient when he has to be this season, completing more than 61 percent of his passes. He also is one touchdown from tying the season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Rudock’s mentality of doing whatever it takes to move the chains and his game management plays well into the strengths of the team’s rushing offense and run defense.
Monsters of the Midwest – Iowa is one of only four teams that boast all three starting linebackers on the Butkus Award watch list. Chris Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and James Morris all are multipurpose linebackers who can tackle, pressure the quarterback and defend the pass. They basically form a barrier 5 yards from the line of scrimmage that opponents are finding difficult to crack. Look for some big plays Saturday from this unit.
Zone read – Didn’t think you’d get through whole article without a reference to this season’s favorite buzzword, did you? The Hawkeyes are slowly but surely updating their archaic offensive style that started 30 years ago under Hayden Fry. Their new hurry-up offense combined with a new scheme, potent running backs and an efficient quarterback is three-fourths of the recipe to offensive success. All that’s lacking are fast, dependable receivers who can keep defenses honest by making big plays downfield.
Coaching Lite – What, you say? Isn’t the obvious coaching mismatch between Ferentz and Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck? Ferentz is in his 15th season at Iowa, while Fleck is in his first with the Broncos. Ferentz doesn’t directly coach any of the players as a unit, but there is a Ferentz who should get the credit, however, offensine line coach Brian Ferentz. Brian Ferentz is a former offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes and knows the position from both player and coach perspective. That should be enough for Weisman and Co. to continue to pile up yards on the ground and register the victory.