An Offensive Explosion Coming Soon
Oct. 2, 2008
IOWA CITY - For fans, it's always dark - really dark - before the dawn. And, to make matters worse, they aren't quite sure dawn is coming all that fast.
Well, fans of the football team at the University of Iowa worried about the Hawkeyes' offense, would probably be well-served to consider the comments of their head coach, Kirk Ferentz, and dig a little deeper in the statistics from Iowa's last game.
"We'll give ourselves a chance to win football games. We're certainly further ahead than we were at any point last year," Ferentz said flatly when asked earlier this week about his offense, a unit that is averaging just under 400 yards per game.
"We didn't do much well last year (offensively)," Ferentz continued. "But we were good in the ball security department. That part of the equation we have to figure out or our statistics will look good but our won-loss record won't.
"I'd rather have both...to be greedy. But if you can only have one, you'd rather win games."
Turnovers and penalties have stunted Iowa's ability to put points on the board.. And, as far as Ferentz is concerned, the solution to the problem rests inside the helmet and between the ears. "To me, it boils down to concentration. So, we just have to do a better job. Concentrate and do a better job," he said.
And, if they do, the results are impressive, very impressive.
The Hawkeyes generated 24 first downs and 407 yards of offense on 61 plays from scrimmage against Northwestern last Saturday at Kinnick. The 2007 Iowa squad surpassed 400 yards of offense in only one Big Ten game a year ago, a 428 yard effort against Indiana. However, the Hawkeyes needed 79 plays to reach that level of offensive production.
Shonn Greene for 21. Greene again for 23.
Stanzi to Brodell for 45.
Stanzi to Brodell for 25.
Stanzi to Brandon Myers for 15.
Are the 2008 Hawkeyes "explosive?" They appear to have potential to be. Almost a quarter of Iowa's offensive plays - 15 -- against Northwestern gained 10 or more yards and, of that total, six gained 20 or more yards. Eight were the result of a pass and catch; seven came via the ground game.
One of the reasons for the success is hidden in a detail many fans miss: Downfield blocking.
"It was their best day blocking," Ferentz said of his receivers' efforts last Saturday. "Any time you get long runs, that's usually a big part of it. II thought our guys made some real steps forward.
"Derrell (Johnson-Koulianos) had one. Shonn had one...it wasn't pretty, but he had one. That's another positive that we can build on," Ferentz added.
Another positive was Iowa's final drive. Stanzi used 11 plays to methodically march the Hawkeyes from their own 28 to the Wildcat eight and did it almost exclusively with his arm.
But, the drive stalled and the Hawkeyes came up empty in their first game of the Big Ten eason
"We need to handle the ball better and finish. I like our chances of getting better at both," said Ferentz.