Monday, October 24, 2011

Who Are The Hawks? Gabe Succeeds James Vandenberg? Aluminum Pantz?


The Iowa Hawkeyes are the only football team I can ever remember watching where, after 7 games, we still really don't know what this team is all about.  And we really didn't learn anything yesterday against a very bad Indiana team. 

We think Iowa has a great offense, but do they?  At home Iowa has scored 182 points (196 overall but two were defensive TDs), an average of 36 a game.  They've been creative and dynamic, averaging 431 total yards of offense per game.  James Vandenberg looks like Peyton Manning, Marvin McNutt like Calvin Johnson.  On the road they're bland and anemic.  They're averaging 22 points and 309 total yards, but much of that is inflated by the three overtime game at Iowa State.  James Vandenberg looks like Curtis Painter, Marvin McNutt disappears.

It's not like we can point to any team they've beaten or lost to as an accurate indicator.  Four home wins were against terrible teams, Penn State is ranked but their "best win" probably came against Iowa, and Iowa State has gone in the tank. 

Minnesota certainly won't give them any better competition, but it's important to see if they can play a consistent and solid game away from Kinnick Stadium.  This is a game they should win and win easily.  After seeing the defense struggle against a true freshman QB I'm thinking it might be tougher than we realize.

He Got Skills
When Marvin McNutt is drafted in April, I'm betting his highlight reel has more than a few plays from this game on it.

We possibly did learn one thing about Iowa this week-the backup quarterbacks must be REALLY bad.  AJ Derby was moved over to linebacker and all indications are it is permanent.  John Weinke was in just long enough to take a knee.  James Vandenberg played nearly the whole way, all this while diving head first on runs and take shots to the knee on sacks.  Does anyone realize that the season is over if he goes down when keeping him in so long in blowouts? 

Perhaps Iowa's QB of the future is James' brother, Keokuk junior Gabe Vandenberg.  Vandy Deuce has had a big year and brings Keokuk to Norwalk for the start of the 3A playoff Wednesday.  Papa Vandenberg says Gabe has a more natural throwing motion.
Gabe Vandenberg. Photo courtesy John Gaines
Barring injury, creative play calling, or Steele Jantz taping a football to his hands to keep from fumbling it, I think Jared Barnett will start the rest of the season.  It wasn't perfect, but I thought Barnett handled a tough situation against a good team very well.  The most important thing though?  Barnett's not turning the football over.  Jantz has been a turnover machine, and the Cyclones have a tough enough time without turning the ball over against their Big 12 foes.

Jared Barnett.  Photo courtesy Charlie Neibergall AP
Not surprisingly the game where Jantz made the fewest mistakes was the Iowa game.  He became a campus legend for his performance that day, and it was nearly flawless.  But Chris called it in his recent blog-Jantz benefited more from a weak Iowa defense.  The Hawkeyes struggled to handle Indiana true freshman Trey Roberson last week.  To be fair, Jantz can be effective if he's taking care of the ball and making good decisions, as he did against the Hawkeyes.  But frankly, for a guy who did play some JUCO ball, he seems as rattled in the pocket as you'd expect a freshman like Barnett to be.

Captain Insano Shows No Mercy.  Photo Courtesy Charlie Neibergall
I think it's hard to not like Paul Rhoads, and it's tough to criticize him.  Forgetting the situation ISU's program is (pretty much always) in, he brings passion and enthusiasm that many of his coaching counterparts never show, or possibly even have.  But with a team that looks undisciplined at its worst, how can he expect his players to keep their composure when he can't keep his?

We've gotten emails from some UNI fans wondering why their second ranked squad isn't getting more attention.  I could point to the UNI-Indiana State montage we did on SoundOFF two weeks ago, or the fact we've had highlights from every game in our weekend sportscasts at some point.  But nothing illustrates the point better than this-I have taken more calls for SoundOFF about Iowa State volleyball this year than Northern Iowa football.  Panther fans, if you want people to talk about your team, SPEAK UP A BIT!  For those wondering, UNI stayed perfect in the MVC with a win over Southern Illinois (and Jewel Hampton), and plays what might be the FCS game of the year next Saturday at 4th ranked MVC unbeaten North Dakota State.

Big week so a few final scattershot thoughts:

-It's too bad Albert Pujols 3 Homerun game happened on a college football Saturday where all hell broke loose.  It was an amazing and rare moment.
-Rangers-Cards feels like a seven game series.
-Wisconsin fans no longer have to worry about being screwed out of the national title game.
-Christian Ponder looked good.  But Aaron Rodgers is Playstation good.
-How are the Chiefs 3-3 and playing for first in the AFC West lead next week at home on MNF against San Diego?
-Watch out for Da Bears in Da Wildcard.  The Lions are a young team that might be cracking under the weight of heavy expectations.
-Until Tim Tebow plays a team that doesn't piss games away late, I ain't buying it.  Stupidity and late turnovers by San Diego and Miami shouldn't wipe the slate clean. 
-Ouch Colts.


Evil Adam said...

I vote that the nickname Vandy Deuce never ever ever be used again.

As for Steele Jantz, in all fairness he's started (if my memory serves me correctly) 17 games now at QB, counting Texas A&M. That's total, high school, JuCo and ISU combined. My guess is Barnett actually has more starts than Jantz.

Zach Borg said...

Adam in hindsight I see your point about the nickname and agree.