The suspense of game weeks is almost over. In 30 hours or so, ISU will face off against Iowa in that most hated of locales, Kinnick Stadium. Greetings everyone, I'm Paul Conrad and Mark has graciously allowed me to post some of my thoughts about the Cyclones over the next few months of football season. So besides watching the progress of the game, I have several things I'm planning on looking at during the game.
ISU Offensive Line Play - There's no doubt in anyone's mind, least of all Adrian Clayborn's, that ISU's Offensive line dominated Iowa's front 4 last year. There's been a lot of talk and a lot of hype about how good Iowa's front four are this year, but can they break down the passing/rushing protection? In my mind, this is the most likely way for Iowa to blow out ISU this week.
- Throwing to the Flats - Anytime a quarterback throws over the defensive line and into the flats, I cringe. It's a learned reaction, I assure you. To many times have I seen these passes deflected, intercepted, or otherwise cause craziness. We'll have to see how many times Arnaud and Stanzi decide to go for the high risk move.
- Fooling the Defense - Watching the NIU game last week, I was simply astounded how many times Arnaud completely stopped the defense in it's tracks with the zone-read play. I have no doubt that Iowa won't be fooled as badly as NIU was, particularly since I'm sure they all studied ISU's film like it was the Holy Grail. What I will be interested in, however, is if this play makes any traction for ISU. Turning 3 yard plays into 4 yard plays makes first downs a heck of a lot easier to come by, and this could make that difference.
- Overall Game Play - How many of you expected ISU to come out gunslinging last week like Jack Trice was the OK Corral? Props to you if you did, but I was astonished. Everywhere you turned over the off-season, you heard "ISU has a good running game" and "ISU won on the legs of Alexander Robinson". Will ISU go back to being run heavy against Iowa? I don't know. But I do know Iowa won't be stacking 8 to 9 in the box early in the game, and that offers some hope.
- Jewel Hampton Hype - The hype on Jewel Hampton is something I've had a hard time understanding. Yes, I agree he was a great back before he got injured. However, I have rarely seen a player returning from injury make big plays in their first game back. Football isn't an on/off switch. I fully expect Adam Robinson to be taking most of the run plays for Iowa.
I'm looking forward to this game, and very excited that I can see it on TV. I haven't lived in Iowa for a long time, and the last few years watching games on the gamecast on my iPhone has been painful at best. I may be guilty of unconscionable optimism but I'm going to go with ISU over Iowa, 31-28 in a wild 4th quarter.