Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Sept. 30, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — — Random thoughts the Sunday after a Saturday that included a pig win for the Hawkeyes…


Yeah, that’s not a typo. It was a “pig win” for Kirk’s team yesterday in Minneapolis. It was also a big win…but you don’t get to type “world record” and “Iowa Hawkeyes” in the same sentence too often, so before I begin droning on about the Hawkeyes’ determined effort to keep Floyd in Iowa City for another year, I need to invite you to read about the successes of Marc Long’s men’s and women’s swimmers yesterday in Ann Arbor, Mich.: HERE. Interested in seeing more of the Hawkeyes and their world record-setters? Here’s the team’s schedule for 2013-14: HERE.

Next Saturday is Homecoming at Kinnick Stadium. It’s also the annual Black and Gold Spirit Game. Rules are the same as always: Fans with seats in odd numbered sections of Kinnick and UI students and others in the student sections of Kinnick wear black, fans in the even numbered sections of Kinnick wear gold. It’s a big game. Loud and proud and 100 percent participation in the show of spirit is a must. HERE is a map, if you need one.

Here is our take on the game: HERE.

Here are some quotes: HERE.

Here is some video: HERE.

Here are some great pictures of the game and our favorite little piggy: HERE.

I think I wrote in this space prior to the start of the season that Mike Meyer was a strength of this year’s team and that the Hawkeyes’ placekicker would be the difference in a game or two this year. The guy nailed his 100th PAT in a row yesterday and three field goals including a 49-yarder to open the scoring that had at least five, six or seven yards to spare. He was also very good on kickoffs — I think every one of his strikes except his last were fielded by Gophers in the end zone. We didn’t need a game-winning kick from the talented senior to secure Floyd, however. If and when we do this fall, I’m here to suggest that he’ll split the uprights.

Have you checked out this month’s edition of Hawk Talk Monthly? You can do so HERE. There’s a great story about two of our wide receivers jumping out of a plane (with parachutes, of course) and an informative Q-and-A with Fran McCaffery, a great picture of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series trophy, and much more. Check it out.

Speaking of Hawk Talk Monthly, I offer some “Random Thoughts” in that publication, too. In the October 2013 edition I write about the reality that team stats four games into a season begin to suggest trends — or tendencies or an “identity” — and that those trends are defined as real or not during the first four games of the league season. Two thoughts about team stats and trends after our Big Ten opener: First, our nonconference statistics suggested that we had a pretty salty defense, particularly against the run. That proved true yesterday. You can check out the game stats HERE. Take a look at yards gained rushing by Minnesota and touchdowns scored via the ground game by the Gophers. Second, the trend for Iowa with respect to penalties has been on a steady decline since the opener. Iowa was whistled for one yesterday that came at the end of a drive that resulted in three instead of seven; the Hawkeyes didn’t take a step backward when building their 17-0 halftime lead.

I saw the headline and smiled: HERE. I read the paragraphs about Ed Podolak and Chuck Long’s comments and smiled again. I listen to our games pretty much from start to finish and so I heard Ed’s comments when he said them; someone told me about Chuck’s. So here’s my two cents on this: C.J. Beathard may indeed have a quicker release and might have the stronger arm — those would be questions for the coaching staff — but right now the quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes is 4-1 as a starter and has looked pretty darn good getting us there. This reminds me of one of my favorite stories and years of Iowa football. Remember Nathan Chandler? If memory serves, he wasn’t exactly a fan favorite. I think the consensus of the experts was that he was too slow afoot. Maybe there was more, too. However, in the year he was given the opportunity to run the show — 2003 — all Nathan did was guide the Hawkeyes to nine regular-season victories and a 37-17 victory over No. 15 Florida in the 2004 Outback Bowl. Ten wins, three losses, January 1 bowl game victory. That productivity keeps you on the field. So, too, do four wins in five games.

The Hy-Vee Heroes Game will be here before you know it. An important piece of the annual gridiron battle with our friends to the west is the salute of a Nebraskan and an Iowan who have earned the opportunity to be the game’s “Hero.” We invite you to nominate someone you believe is deserving: HERE.

Friday was the first day, according to new NCAA rules, that college basketball teams could stage a team practice. I think I knew the start date was being pushed up and then I stumble onto this — HERE — and my suspicions were confirmed (as was my anticipation for what’s to come). I’m not 100 percent certain if our two programs jumped on this opportunity or not. I do know this: Pat’s story was a nice reminder to me to remind you to order your 2013-14 UI men’s and women’s basketball season tickets. It pains me to say this — because the weather has been so gorgeous of late — but, like it or not, the pages on the calendar will continue to flip and before you know it the little white stuff will be fluttering around us and we’ll be playing a little round ball. You can place your ticket order HERE.

I read and listen to all the talk about the shortcomings of the NCAA and I always find myself coming back to two things: First, rules are rules….even rules that appear to be silly or poorly conceived. So, if you’re going to play the game, you have to play by the rules. Second, there are consequences for “searching for that competitive edge” which is “code” for either breaking the rules in hopes that you’ll never be caught (dumb) or swimming in the “gray area” (not as dumb as knowingly breaking the rules…but dumb nonetheless) which should be recognized as the equivalent of swimming with sharks: You might get lucky…then again you might not.

If you didn’t notice, the only team that has defeated the good guys in black and gold this year — Northern Illinois in the season opener — improved to 4-0 yesterday with a big time thumping of Purdue at Purdue: HERE. I’m not ready to invite NIU into the Big Ten, but I have looked at their schedule – HERE. – and the Huskies could run the table and find themselves as a BCS Bracket Buster team for the second straight December.

Fun Fact No. 2: Iowa successfully converted 8-of-14 third-down plays into first downs yesterday in Minneapolis and now has done the same on 42 of 80 (52 percent) for the season. (Iowa converted on 64 of its 176 opportunities [36 percent] a year ago.) There’s no mystery here. You win a lot of football games by moving the chains.

ANF Game Day is drawing near and so is the end of your chance to win $5,000 in groceries: HERE

Thank you, Bubba Watson: . By leaning in the direction painted black and gold, you have elevated yourself to No. 2 behind Zach Johnson as my favorite member of the PGA Tour.

To follow up on the previous “Random,” after watching Chris, Lee, Kirk and the gang on what is easily the most entertaining two hours of the week I mentioned to my wife that we have fallen out of favor with the national media and, perhaps, rightly so. We struggled a year ago. But that was a year ago; I would suggest to anyone interested in listening that the 2013 Hawkeyes are a solid unit that is doing what Ferentz-led teams do many more times than not: Gain confidence and get better as the season progresses. Perhaps yesterday will help to chip away at that (incorrect) perception. Of course, I know it really doesn’t matter what the national pundits think…but we all know it is more fun when they appreciate how well you’re doing what you do on Saturday afternoons.

For the record, here are the Floyd predictions by the ESPN-ers who report on the goings on inside the Big Ten: One was right. One was wrong. Neither, to date, appear that high on the good guys in black and gold. Maybe that will change or maybe not.

The saying speed kills. Yesterday, it put a dagger in Jerry Kill’s Gophers. 74-yard race to pay dirt after a bullet of a strike from took maybe seven or eight or maybe nine seconds. “That’s fun to watch a guy run that fast,” said the Hawkeye Radio Network’s Eddie Podolak after complimenting a handful of other Hawkeyes for perfect execution of the play. The touchdown gave Iowa a 17-0 lead heading into intermission. It also came shortly after a dropped pass by a Gopher receiver that would have kept alive a Minnesota drive. Speed and dropped passes — like penalties — killers.

Fun Fact No. 1: Iowa has outscored its opponents 74-10 in the second quarter of its first five games. Perhaps we should put a big “2” under “QTR” on the scoreboards at Kinnick next week and leave it there for all four quarters.

Fun Fact No. 2: Iowa successfully converted 8-of-14 third-down plays into first downs yesterday in Minneapolis and now has done the same on 42 of 80 (52 percent) for the season. (Iowa converted on 64 of its 176 opportunities [36 percent] a year ago.) There’s no mystery here. You win a lot of football games by moving the chains.

UI defensive line coach Reese Morgan doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who needs to be lauded publicly for a job well done. However, that doesn’t mean words like these from ABC’s Ed Cunningham should not be acknowledged: “This (Iowa) defensive line is coached as good as it gets.” (Yeah, probably not the best grammar…but you get the point.) The Gophers had just 30 yards rushing on 27 attempts against the good guys yesterday. I would say there’s some good coaching going on there.

In cooperation with U.S. Cellular, we invited fans of the Hawkeyes to visit Kinnick Friday afternoon and get their picture taken on the field with the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series trophy. Fun was had by all, so much so that I’m pretty sure we’ll do it again some time.