Football Game Watch #3
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. North Texas Mean Green
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 12:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Barney’s Beanery (2 locations: Santa Monica and Redondo Beach)
What’s the opposite of high? Hitting a low, and that is what Iowa must avoid when North Texas visits the pink locker room. The energy and excitement won’t be the same, but for the 100 players suiting up; it’s still the most important game of the season. First year play-caller Brian Ferentz is just as much a work in progress as his young quarterback. As he finesses, the team will finesse as well. This game is built for Brian to showcase his running backs. Akrum Wadley and James Butler will be the workhorses, and that means the offensive line will have to create the holes. James Daniels return was the best news Stanley could have received but the line re-adjusts again losing Ike Boettger for the season due to an Achilles injury.
No one predicted Iowa to have much of a passing attack, but with the emergence of Nick Easley, Noah Fant and true freshman Ihmir Smith-Marsette; Stanley is finding weapons all over the field. Stanley’s job over the next few days of practice is finding the chemistry with them to convert on big play opportunities, instead of leaving 3 potential scores off the board as was the case in Ames. That timing comes with more practice, more experience and knowing your receivers speed and acceleration.
Wyoming was held to 3 points, but the Cyclones certainly exposed a weakness of the defense. This is why coaches get paid the big bucks, you don’t know what is broken until it happens; their job is to fix it. The defense was expected to receive a boost with the return of corner Manny Rugamba, but that wasn’t the case as he showed in-game rust. There will be a lot of time spent in the classroom reviewing game film, as Iowa was sucked into over-pursuits one too many times. The zone defense was a head scratcher and left a lot of open space for receivers to roam free against linebackers who can’t match that kind of speed. The Mean Green from Texas won’t present the same challenges, so the D needs to focus on controlling the line of scrimmage and pressuring the QB. Defensive lineman AJ Epenesa has earned more playing time and could be the one key to creating a consistent rush needed to force QB’s into making errors.
With Penn State looming in the background, it could be easy for Iowa to lose focus of North Texas. For me, this game is about Brian Ferentz and does he bring a new attitude to the table. When Banks, Clark and yes; Brian himself were the show, they destroyed inferior opponents at will. The killer instinct hasn’t been in Iowa City for some time, and this is Brian’s opportunity to remind college football that Iowa is a powerhouse program and only the big dogs run with us. Set the tone early and handle the job convincingly. In case they didn’t get the memo, let them know why it’s called the Hawkeye State. Go Hawks!
Check out the fun and excitement at this year’s game watches. Wear your Hawkeye gear to get 40% off food and drinks during the game.
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