Gameday: ‘Cats at Iowa
Kickoff: 12:00 pm et/11 am ct
Location: Iowa City, IA- Kinnick Stadium (70,585)
Coach’s Corner: Pat Fitzgerald Career Record/Big Ten Record ( 54-42,26-32) vs Kirk Ferentz (104-77,60-55)
All-time series: Iowa: 47-24-3, yet NU has won 6 of 8
TV: BTN- PXP – Matt Devlin, Color -Glen Mason, SL – Jon Jansen
Radio: WGN 720-AM Dave Eanet (PXP), Ted Albrecht (Color), Sam Valensizi (SL) WNUR (89.3 FM)
Internet: WGNradio.com, WNUR.org
In-game Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE, @NUFBFamily, @NU_Sports
Spread: Iowa favored by 4
Over/Under: 53 points
Trends: The ‘Cats have gone 5-2 against Iowa in the Fitz era and have won six of eight.
JOIN US FOR THE LIVE IN-GAME CHAT AT 11 am CT!!!!!!
Before we jump in on the gameday minutiae, I want to point out a fantastic feature on Wildcat DB/KR Matt Harris by the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Grenstein. I hope you all check out the “Must Read” section on the LTP home page, regularly, as I’ve posted it there, but I felt in light of our season and the need for constant perspective, it was appropriate to call it to your attention here. There’s a good chance #27 starts today.
Disheartened. It’s the one word that best summarized my thoughts about NU this week. The ‘Cats followed up an embarassing showing in Evanston with a lifeless effort and mistake-prone apple against Minnesota last week in Evanston. It’s inconceivable that Fitz-coached teams could seemingly lack heart and leadership, but it happened. The ‘Cats must now rely on their Fitz-era crutch – Iowa – to regain some semblance of a season.
The good news from this past week is that the Wildcats – from the top down genuinely seem pissed off and ready to go. More importantly, Kain Colter is back at QB and while Venric Mark is sidelined once again, the ‘Cats should get a significant lift in the middle of the defensive line as underrated, but incredibly valuable DT Sean McEvilly is back. Thirty days ago any NU and Iowa fan would’ve predicted NU would be favored by double digits in this game. Now, the ‘Cats are back to perhaps their more comfortable role – the underdog.
When NU Has The Ball:
A 15mph-20 mph wind is forecast for this game. Advantage Iowa. The Hawkeyes secondary is as weak, if not weaker than Minnesota’s. However, we saw what good that did for us last week. Despite significant early success on the ground, the ‘Cats deserted it and went to the long ball. Minnesota went man on us, jammed our athletic receivers and Trevor was once again way off. It was a recipe for disaster. With Kain Colter back, and not yet quite 100%, you can bet that Kirk Ferentz’s gameplan will be to let the ‘Cats to try and beat Iowa through the air. With any semblance of a passing game, that is death for Iowa. Can the maligned and under-performing Wildcat offensive line win enough battles to create an effective ground game? It was the difference last year in our win. I’m not as confident on Saturday.
It will be fascinating to see how we use Treyvon Green. The early season standout RB has gone AWOL in Mick McCall’s gameplanning, or at least in-game execution. Treyvon is the B1G’s 10th leading rusher with 473 yards, yet has only 75 carries, 13 less than the next fewest carries of rushers ahead of him. More succinctly, he’s got a gaudy 6.2 ypc average, which is, oh, the same exact number as Carlos Hyde. Meanwhile, Stephen Buckley had a breakout drive last week, our lone first half TD drive, but sufferred an injury and was sidelined for almost the remainder of the game. He’s listed as good to go this week and if he’s healthy, I expect to see significant carries for #8 as well.
You know we’ll see Trevor at some point during this game and for the first time since the second drive of the Wisconsin game, it won’t be all on him. I’m very curious to see how Trevor responds after two awful performances as the QB 1b role. Should Kain be healthy enough to play the full game, I’d expect to see a 75/25 split of the snaps in favor of Colter.
Kain Colter play has been slated to become a member of an elite NU club – the 2,000/2,000 club. The senior needs just 46 rushing yards and 21 passing yards to eclipse the 2K mark in both categories, a stat that has been elusive due to injuries the past two games.
From a scheme standpoint, it’ll be interesting to see if Iowa breaks from their traditional, predictable, zone defense and follow the Wisconsin and Minnesota blueprint of going man on the ‘Cats. I know I would.
When Iowa Has The Ball
Here comes Mark Weisman! Weisman has racked up 676 yards rushing on 136 carries for a 5.0 ypc average. Only Fitzgerald Touissaint has more carries than the bulldozer of a RB. Meanwhile, Jake Rudock has stepped in to provide some stability at QB, and while he’s the typical non-flashy Iowa QB, he’s given the Hawkeyes a downfield dimension they simply didn’t have the past couple of years. That being said, Rudock has made some big, big mistakes. NU will have to resume their takeaway ways and get a pick (they had 0 takeaways last week) to try and gain an advantage assuming we don’t magically find our explosive offensive ways.
As Iowa always does, the Hawkeyes’ tight ends are featured in Greg Davis’ offense. The OC may change, but the general formula does not. Rely on a solid O-line to wear down defenses and selectively keep the “D” honest with some controlled downfield passing that exploits match-ups, especially with tight ends. By now this cliche must be the copyright of Iowa football. Kevonte Martin-Manley is the Hawks’ big play WR, but he’s not of the same vintage of recent Iowa WRs.
No Mark, no advantage ‘Cats. Sure, Jeff Budzien is a lethal weapon for FGs, but Iowa has been tremendous in the punt return game with a 21.8 ypr average thanks to Martin-Manley. Matt Harris has been a bright spot for NU on kickoff returns, but our punting has been, well, an adventure and our punt return game with Tony Jones has been below-average.
Lake The Posts Factor: 6.0 (1 = fully expect it, no celebration, 10 = march ‘em down to Lake Michigan)
This is an average Iowa team. Unfortunately, it’s a below-average Northwestern team – so far. The ‘Cats need to find a way to win or risk derailing the past few years of consistency and really getting the fan base in panicsville, or worse, throwing in the white towel for 2013. It’s not that ‘Cats fans aren’t diehard, but the lack of effort and leadership by NU has infused the fan base with a malaise that I haven’t experienced in some time.