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Outback Bowl: Football Game Watch, Iowa vs. Florida

Outback Bowl

Iowa vs. Florida, 2017 Outback Bowl, Monday, January 2, 2017, 10:00 a.m. Pacific time

Iowa Hawkeye Outback Bowl official game watch locations are Barney’s Beanery (Santa Monica and Redondo Beach ONLY).  Please note, Barney’s Beanery Pasadena will not be an official game watch location for the Outback Bowl, due to Rose Bowl activities.  Santa Monica and Redondo Beach will honor 40% off food and drink purchases for anyone who wears Iowa gear during the Outback Bowl only.

Barney’s Beanery Santa Monica

1351 3rd St. Promenade

Santa Monica, CA

310.656.5777
 

Barney’s Beanery Redondo Beach

100 Fisherman’s Wharf, Suite H

Redondo Beach, CA

424.275.4820

 
In the words of Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, 2016 Hawkeye Football was a classic example of the ebbs and flows of college football.  On September 17th, Hawk Nation was stunned when North Dakota State pulled off the upset on #11 ranked Iowa.  After a tough stretch which included a one sided affair against Big 10 foe Penn State, many fans accepted that Iowa would be home for the holidays.  And just like that, Hawkeye fans were stunned once more; turning the College Football Playoffs upside down after a 33-yard field goal eliminated the Michigan Wolverines and turned Kinnick Stadium into the largest outdoor party.
Rebounding from adversity earned the Hawkeyes the right to represent the Big 10 in the Outback Bowl against SEC’s Florida Gators.  So much history between these programs and maybe no one wants the opportunity of redemption more than Iowa Linebacker Chad Greenway, who tweeted “#IWasNotOffsides”.  Hovering over the Hawkeyes program is the reminder they haven’t won a bowl game since 2010.  The incentive for the team is there but they’ll be met with one of college football’s toughest test.  The Gator Defense is ranked in the top 10 nationally and has been lights out all season.  If LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley are to be the workhorses, the O-Line will have to win the battle upfront and this will be a test like no other.  CJ Beathard has struggled staying upright all year and now he’ll face a defense with 30 sacks on the year and over 70 tackles for loss.  You want to talk about speed?  There’s no denying they possess speed on the edges.  We all know Iowa better than anyone, so we know there’s no changing the philosophy; Ferentz will run right at them.  However, In order to combat the pressure, Iowa will most likely need to get Wadley in open space with screens to counter-balance their speed and let him make his own path.  Beathard is likely to focus on short throws since he may not have a lot of time to sit in the pocket and go through his rotations.  Winning 1st and 2nd down battles will be key for Iowa to put points on the board.  3rd down must be manageable, and it will also make play-calling less predictable if the defense has to consider Iowa could run or pass.
With the offensive struggles Iowa has seen this season; Florida has felt their share of pains as well.  Plagued with turnovers, Quarterback Austin Appleby should plan to steer completely clear of Cornerback Desmond King.  Tis the season for giving, so Iowa’s D needs to capitalize on any gifts Florida’s offense is handing out.  Jaleel Johnson’s safety against the Wolverines completely flipped momentum, and without it; the comeback most likely doesn’t happen.  Coach Parker may find sending blitz’s more often will provide the secondary with better opportunities to make plays on the ball.
On paper, the similarities between these two programs make for an interesting matchup; and expect them to live up to every bit of it.  There’s no love lost anytime the Big 10 meets the SEC, and the Hawkeyes have plenty to be playing for.  The New Year is upon us, but the past is what will make this another classic rivalry showdown.  We’ll see if we can add Alligator to the Barney’s Beanery menu for one day only.  Time to send the SEC back to the swamp.  Chomp on that!  Let’s Go Hawks!
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Football Game Watch: Iowa vs. Minnesota

Saturday, October 8, 2016, 9:00 a.m. Pacific time

Barney’s Beanery Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Pasadena

IOWA VS MINNESOTA

It’s okay Hawk Nation, you can be frustrated; but the season is far from over.  Other than the Cy-Hawk trophy, there’s no bigger rivalry than Minnesota and the battle for Floyd of Rosedale.  Iowa heads North in a key matchup against the 3-1 Gophers.

There’s one name that stands out for Minnesota and that is Quarterback Mitch Leidner.  He got my attention earlier this summer as he put in serious dedication to better himself.  He’s leaner, quicker, healthier and has a nasty attitude about the Hawkeyes.  We all know the Iowa-Minnesota hate is real, but Leidner clearly felt Iowa disrespected him during the recruiting process and has stated such.  He understands the importance to their fan base of winning and to show up the program that “Strung him along” is all the motivation he’ll need to come out guns blazing.  Minnesota’s struggles are near mirror images of the Hawks, the O-line is questionable; leaving Leidner to have to create his own plays.  The D-Line isn’t giving much help either, struggling to generate a pass rush.

Dissecting Iowa’s issues is both confusing and frustrating.  Looking at the offense, team chemistry is a glaring problem.  Pass protection has been poor and CJ Beathard hasn’t adjusted his pocket awareness enough to compensate.  Iowa has to keep Beathard moving with more play-action and designed runs to keep the linebackers in check from dialing up the blitz.  The run game is going to work best, when the Defense has to concern themselves with a deep ball threat.  Wide-out Jerminic Smith is the one guy who has the speed to do it, and did show he’s capable on the one opportunity he was given.  It may be time for the Hawks to cut the playbook loose and get the offense out of their comfort zone and give the defense an unexpected attack.  If the first 20 plays are scripted and you go 3 and out on your first series; throw it out.

Here’s the truth, there are 7 games remaining and Iowa has every chance to right this ship and propel themselves back into the national spotlight.  It begins Saturday, bringing Floyd back to Iowa City and this team needs Hawkeye Nation behind them more than ever!

Keys to victory on the road- get Beathard moving and breathe new life into the offense.  Defensively, take more risk and blitz the corners forcing QB’s into mistakes.  And finally, fire the officiating crew because they need serious help!

Let’s get the Hawk spirit fired up!  Barney’s Beanery will be ready to go and the food and drinks will be flowing!  Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Pasadena…let’s get it on!

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Football Game Watch: Iowa vs. Rutgers

Saturday, September 24, 2016, 9:00 a.m. Pacific time

Barney’s Beanery Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Pasadena

IOWA VS RUTGERS

I told you the Bison would earn our respect, but I didn’t see the Hawks not pulling that one out.  Iowa turns the page as quickly as possible, in hopes that a road victory can steer this season back on the right track.  This is the first meeting between the Hawkeyes and the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers is one of the new kids on the block after joining the Big 10 conference in 2014.  Rutgers First year head Coach Chris Ash grew up a Hawkeye fan, growing up just south of Iowa City, in Ottumwa.  But he would love nothing more than taking down the Black and Gold in his Big 10 debut.  Not so much a secret weapon, because everyone knows it’s coming; Rutgers has quite the weapon in Janarion Grant.  This is one team that truly believes in getting the ball into the hands of their playmaker, and you’ll see Grant catching balls, returning balls, running the ball and yes; even passing the ball.  Film session will likely lead the Scarlet Knights with one agenda, and that’s running right at the Iowa line and taking their shots down field.  When you have a dynamic runner with great hands, you put all the pressure on the defense to stop what they already know is coming.

If you’re like me, a lot of fan excitement was seeing a new forward thinking strategy dubbed “New Kirk 2.0”.  Last week, didn’t feel new; more like a sequel with a few changes but mostly the same plot from the original story.  Players didn’t execute perfection, and they never will; but the play-calling could have been more aggressive as well.  The good news Hawks, dropping a non-conference game is something we do even on our good years!  So what’s next for Iowa?  It’s about establishing the right attitude and maintaining that attitude every week.  There wasn’t the same hunger that was seen when the Cyclones came into Kinnick.  Tackling was optional, as was staying upright before making contact with a defender.  This is when the captains must take back control of their team, and expect CJ Beathard to put this loss on his shoulders and vow to step his game up.  Not because it’s Beathard’s fault, but because it’s his team and he will want to be the example for everyone in that locker room.

Iowa has to get back to winning the basics and that means controlling the line of scrimmage and executing proper tackling form.  Win the line of scrimmage and your running backs have lanes, and Beathard isn’t getting smashed into the ground.  Poor tackling turned too many 3 yard gains into first downs, and getting off the field early is the best way to help a defense win the 4th quarter battle.  There’s plenty to clean up, but the Hawkeyes have the talent to do it.  There’s no better way to test a team’s heart then sending them in enemy territory.

Iowa prides itself on being a run oriented team, but they can’t be so prideful that they run regardless of the scenario or the result.  The ultimate goal is to win every game, it doesn’t matter how.  A great week of practice is helpful, but adjustments in-game will dictate who wins and who loses.  The Hawks must find what’s working and commit to the ultimate game plan of doing what it takes to win, even if it’s not what the original plan called for.  Do that and Iowa will be 1-0 in Big 10 play, with the chance of another great season right in front of them.

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Football Game Watch: Iowa vs. Iowa State

Saturday, September 10, 2016, 4:30 p.m. Pacific time

Barney’s Beanery (3 locations: Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Pasadena)

IOWA VS IOWA STATE

Some love it, some hate it; and the debate to play this game or not won’t end anytime soon.  The Cy-Hawk trophy has made its’ home in Iowa City for a year, but if the Hawks aren’t careful; it will fly away west back to Ames.  It’s the Hawkeyes, it’s the Cyclones, it’s HATE WEEK!

The Cyclones find themselves searching for answers after dropping the home opener to Northern Iowa.  They were riddled with mistakes, turning the ball over in bunches; giving the Panthers every opportunity to pull off the upset.  What does that mean for this Saturday?  Absolutely Nothing.  It’s what drives a large portion of Hawkeye Nation crazy.  If Iowa wins, the nation says “So what? You’re supposed to beat them.”  If Iowa loses, good luck making any case for national respect.  In what feels like a win-win situation for the Cyclones, there’s no denying the boost a win would do for their program.  Returning running back Mike Warren was held in check last week, but if he gets hot; he’ll keep the Hawkeye defense on their heels and may provide just enough spark to ruin Iowa’s year.

Enough about the Cyclones, let’s talk about the Hawks!  Overall, a solid out the gate performance; I think Miami of Ohio had some quality players and was a good early test.  Offensively, CJ Beathard did what he was asked to do; make some plays and get the win.  It felt like the coaching staff wasn’t looking to unleash full Beathard just yet.  Why would you, when you have a team of running backs in LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley?  Both players did some serious work on the ground and that was due to the dominance of the offensive line. Many speculated Iowa would have one of the best lines in college football, and they wasted no time showing what they’re about.  Dominate the Cyclones D and Iowa will find themselves in the red zone often.

The Hawkeye defense hit highs and lows all through the night, just minutes into the game defensive leader Josey Jewell was ejected due to a targeting penalty.  That was felt immediately, and it was clear there are instincts and intangibles that Jewell brings that can’t be replaced.  Sure the front line gave up more rushing yards then Ferentz will like, but you have to like their ability to add pressure on the quarterback as well as the intensity with every hit.  The forced fumbles weren’t just defensive stops, but also momentum changers.  The secondary got all they could handle from the Red Hawks.  We all knew QB’s have studied Desmond King well enough to know to avoid him, so that leaves Greg Mabin left to ward off heavy assaults.  Let’s just say, that didn’t go well.  It’s too early to know if this can be corrected or if Iowa will need to get additional coverage his way.  The further along we go in the season, the better the competition will become and they’ll need to see a much improved secondary or offenses will have their game plan ready to attack one side of the field.

One thing that hasn’t changed, and that’s Iowa State always finds one game a year to pull off an upset, and that keeps their coach hanging onto their job by just a thread.  Who will it be this year?  Not the Hawkeyes, not on Beathard’s watch!  The Cyclones will once again make our hearts pound, but the Hawkeyes will take full command by the end of the 3rd.  The energy from Kinnick stadium will be pulsating, giving this team every bit of momentum they need to send the Cyclones back to Jack Trice sporting a 0-2 black eye.  Get to your Barney’s Beanery early, you don’t want to miss this one!

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2016 Football Game Watch #1: Iowa vs. Miami (Ohio)

Saturday, September 3, 2016, 12:30 p.m. Pacific time

Barney’s Beanery (3 locations: Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Pasadena)

IOWA VS MIAMI (OHIO)

Fresh off a stellar 2015 campaign, Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz seeks to repeat the historic 12-0 regular season finish and first Rose Bowl appearance since 1991.  Returning seniors CJ Beathard and Desmond King give Hawkeye Nation more than enough reason to believe this season can be special as well, but winning with expectations high isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Let’s be honest, it’s difficult for any team to repeat an undefeated season.  So is a 1 or 2 loss season a letdown?  For some maybe, but more important than a blemish on a perfect season; is Iowa’s ability to position itself for the B10 Championship game again, and defeating the B10 East Champion.  If the Hawkeyes want to be respected by the world, they have to win on the biggest stage; and a win in a college football playoff or Rose Bowl has to be the focus.

Iowa welcomes Miami University (Ohio) to the pink locker rooms this week, and while there’s no Ben Roethlisberger at the helm; they do field an experienced offense of 10 returning starters.  Miami sure likes their QB’s tall.  6’4 sophomore Billy Bahl hopes to show his freshman growing pains were worth it, and will translate to greater on-field success.  Alonzo Smith will handle the bulk of the carries and the experience across the front line should allow him to find some holes between the tackles.  J’Terius Jones, Jr hopes to disrupt the Iowa offense, the 263 pounder is already topping list of potential 2016 All American candidates.

Joining Iowa’s Beathard is returning running back tandem LeShun Daniels, Jr and Akrum Wadley.  Daniels a bruising powerback, Wadley delivers speed and finesse.  Daniels is most effective when he hits the hole hard, but tended to be a bit hesitant after returning from injury.  Wadley is the guy college football will be talking about very soon.  We call him the “Northwestern Special”.  Wideout Tevaun Smith is catching touchdown passes for the Colts now, but Matt Vandeburg will be the feature receiver, and when the ball is in his reach, he’s going to get it.  If the Hawkeyes air attack is going to explode, Jerminic Smith is going to play a big role in it.  He showed raw talent his freshman year, and if he’s developed timing with his QB’s and honed in on his catching ability (go figure), he’s the 2016 Breakout player for the Hawks.

Defensive Lineman Drew Ott was not granted an additional year by the NCAA committee, but the Iowa defense is loaded.  The All American King wanted to finish what he started and brings the nastiness that can’t be replaced.  What’s really exciting about the program is seeing a host of young players coming in and contributing early in their careers.  This is a sign that recruiting is hitting the trail hard and doing a great job of recognizing talent.  Josey Jewell and Parker Hesse are defensive wrecking balls and shining examples of that young talent Iowa has been able to attract.

2015 was a magical season, but the Rose Bowl lingers in both players and fans minds; so expect there to be a lot of motivation to settle for nothing less than perfection.  With Beathard, the sky is the limit because he’s a winner and makes everyone around him better.  College Football Saturday’s are back…In Black!

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