A Closer Look at the Hawkeyes

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The Hawkeyes have lost two games, but are a special team that does it right.
The Hawkeyes have lost two games, but are a special team that does it right.

The Iowa Hawkeyes come into the upcoming game versus Michigan State with a bad taste in their mouth after a tough 31-30 defeat at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers. The Hawkeyes, who enter the game at 5-2, are led by Head Coach Kirk Ferentz. Led by senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi, the Hawkeyes have a prolific passing attacking and a stifling defense. Michigan State can beat the Hawkeyes on Saturday, but it will first have to expose Iowa’s key flaws.

 

  • Senior Stanzi’s stats are astounding. On the year, he has a 68% completion percentage, 1,732 yards, 16 TDs and only 2 INTs. Although he has not thrown for 300 yards in any one game this season, he has thrown for 200 yards and a touchdown in every single game. Stanzi’s dominance through the air is why the Hawkeyes average 33 points and 413 yards total per game.
  • Stanzi is not going to be stopped by the Spartans. That will be nearly impossible to do, especially with the Spartan secondary in the shape that it is. Instead, MSU needs to contain the senior quarterback by forcing him to throw short passes. Also, the defensive line needs to put pressure on Stanzi and force him to make quick decisions.
  • The Hawkeye rushing attack is led by Adam Robinson. Robinson averages 4.58 yards per carry and 105 yards per game. He also leads the backfield in touchdowns with nine.
  • One key weakness for Iowa is that the offense struggles to produce yards on the ground against good defenses. In its two losses (against Arizona and Wisconsin), the ground attack had its two worst days- 29 (net) yards and 118 (net) yards. The Michigan State defense needs to make the Hawkeyes one-dimensional by eliminating the rushing game.
  • Stanzi’s favorite target is junior wide receiver Darrell Johnson-Koulianos. The junior is Stanzi’s go-to guy: Johnson-Koulianos is a great possession receiver and a legitimate long ball threat. The Michigan State secondary needs to be aware of this key playmaker for the Hawkeyes.
  • The Hawkeye defense that was hyped up to be one of the best in the Big Ten before the season has turned out to be average. Although the numbers tell us that the unit is 11th in the FBS in scoring defense (15 points a game) and 13th in total defense (297 yards per game), experience tells us otherwise. Iowa surrendered 34 points to Arizona, 28 points to a Michigan team without Shoelaces for much of the game, and 31 points to Wisconsin. the Hawkeyes D will have trouble going up against a Spartan offense that averages 34 points a game.
  • Iowa’s defense has a big hole at the linebacker position. Three Hawkeye linebackers have been affected by injury this year, one of whom was lost for the season. If the inexperienced linebackers for the Hawkeyes don’t step up against the Spartans, it could be a long day for the Hawkeyes.
  • Bad special teams play has haunted Iowa all season. Against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes missed an extra point, botched a field goal attempt, and gave up a long gain on a fake punt that hurt the team badly.

The Hawkeyes better shore up the defense and special teams if they want to keep their Big Ten hopes alive against a strong Spartans team. 

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