Hawk Talk: Random Thoughts
Nov. 20, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Random thoughts on a Sunday after a road-trippin' Saturday with the Iowa Hawkeyes...
Yes, the victory was sweet yesterday at Ross-Ade Stadium on the Purdue campus. Road win No. 1 for the 2011 Iowa Hawkeyes. The visiting team looked pretty darn impressive from my seat in Section 130: An extremely solid offensive effort - clearly better than the final score suggested - and a very strong defensive effort. That's a pretty good combination on any Saturday afternoon and, particularly, a Saturday afternoon on the road in the Big Ten Conference. Now, let's be heroic and get road win No. 2 Friday!
Is there anything more that can be said or written about Marvin McNutt? (Yes, I know I suggest this every week...) He was spectacular again yesterday and don't even think about a response that begins with, "Yeah, but..." Nine catches, 150-plus yards, two touchdowns. The guy is larger than life. He's the go-to guy. It sure seems to me that week in, week out, he's the best player on the gridiron. It's reached the point for me that I can't wait for next week just to see what he does to put the game in the win column.
Even though it was significantly colder than predicted and grayer than predicted and actually rained on us a couple of times, yesterday's few hours wandering around Lafayette, West Lafayette and the Purdue campus reminded me again of a very simple reality: There really is nothing better than a football game-day in the hometown of a Big Ten institution. An interesting mix of excitement and tension fills the air. That and the great aroma of brats on the grill.
I found myself thinking a little about next year's offense for a few miles of Interstate 74 after the victory yesterday and came to the conclusion that I'd be better off enjoying what this year's offense will accomplish in its final two games than to think ahead to what I might see in the 2012 season opener in Chicago's Soldier Field. The 2011 Hawkeyes clearly have the kind of offense that gives defensive coordinators nightmares: One of the nation's top receivers and two or three or four others with pretty good hands as well, one of the nation's top running backs, a quarterback capable of threading the needle with fire or tossing it with touch, and, yesterday in particular, a tight end with the initials C. J. that not only can catch it like a wide receiver, but seems like a whisker away from breaking one for long yardage like a wideout. It's really fun to watch.
Speaking of the drive home, that piece of a road trip sure is more fun after a "W" than an "L." In fact, you kind of just glide out of the parking lot and into the driveway. I gotta think the team's ride home on the plane had a completely different feel to it as well.
Road trips invariably also offer the opportunity to see a familiar face or two. Yesterday's for the Klatt family was that of former Hawkeye Anthony Dean and his beautiful family. They drove down from Indianapolis to cheer the good guys in black and gold. One other observation worth sharing: A.D. looks like he could line up next Saturday if Kirk needed him. Of course, A.D. would probably politely disagree.
Yesterday was a good day for not just one, but two UI teams when it came to winning on the road. Bluder's Bunch did it, too, in a squeaker at Northern Iowa. Lisa called it a "team win" during her post-game comments and that's not really a surprise. It usually takes a team effort to win on the road in conference play like Kirk's squad did -- UI quarterback James Vandenberg termed Iowa's victory over Purdue a "team win" in his post-game comments -- or against an intrastate rival like Lisa's. Good teams win those games. We have a pair of good-getting-better teams. You can read about the win in Cedar Falls HERE.
Speaking of hoops, Fran's squad - another good-getting-better UI team -- squares off against Creighton today inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. It should be a fantastic game and it will be a really good test for the Hawkeyes. If you're in the neighborhood - and that means greater central Iowa - this is your chance to check out the Hawkeyes up-close and personal, so consider taking advantage of the opportunity and, once you settle into your seat in that very nice facility, help give the Hawkeyes an extra boost by being loud and proud. Tipoff is scheduled for shortly after 3 p.m.
Here's another note related to hoops: It's not too late to purchase season tickets for the home games of Fran's squad and/or Bluder's Bunch. Click HERE to purchase your tickets online. Both teams appear poised for exciting seasons and each would benefit from the energy you would bring to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. C'mon, Hawk fans, climb aboard the bandwagon! It's going to be a pretty good ride this winter.
Speaking of "climbing aboard," kudos to Dan Sabin and the gang that operate the Hawkeye Express on football game-days in Iowa City. They enjoyed another record-setting year in terms of ridership over the course of the seven-game home schedule for the Hawkeyes. Congrats, Dan. All of yours and your team's efforts are very much appreciated not only by your passengers but the UI as well.
A few weeks back I wrote about senior defensive lineman Mike Daniels and his impressive performance at a monthly staff meeting of the UI Athletics Department. You can read about that HERE. Mike was pretty darn impressive yesterday on the gridiron. In fact, it might have been his best performance as a Hawkeye: A team-high eight tackles including six solo stops, four tackles for loss, and two quarterback sacks. Yes, No. 93 was pretty impressive indeed.
Lastly, the inaugural Heroes Game presented by Hy-Vee will be staged Friday in Lincoln. You'll see the Heroes Game trophy for the first time probably on Wednesday. You'll also learn about two outstanding "citizen heroes" on that same day and they will be a part of the fun and excitement on game day in Memorial Stadium. Now, here's a chance for you to be a hero: Celebrate the game and Thanksgiving by texting IOWA to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross. To learn more about the Heroes Game, click HERE.