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.