Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Oct. 31, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Random thoughts on a sunny Sunday in the Heartland…

That was a big win at Kinnick yesterday on ANF Day for the Hawkeyes. However, before we get too deep into that one, I would suggest that getting a 17-game monkey off your back against the 2012 national championship runner-up takes priority in this week’s collection of randoms. That’s what Ron Rainey’s Iowa soccer team did Friday night. When 7,000 or so were making their way to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the annual Blowout, Rainey’s squad hunkered down on the Iowa Soccer Field in front of parents, Iowa soccer alumni, and the Penn State field hockey team, and punched first, punched again, and punched last against the nationally ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in a 3-2 win that snapped a 17-game losing streak to their Big Ten Conference rivals. You could see the Hawkeyes’ determination during the first half when they played their talented and speedy rivals to a 2-all tie. I didn’t see the game-winner, but the video HERE captures the emotion of that moment. Now the opportunity exists for the Hawkeyes to use this momentum to finish the regular season strong and make noise in postseason play.


Have I reminded you recently about all the great video available HERE.

“Now, of course, the opportunity exists for the Hawkeyes to use this momentum to finish the regular season strong and make noise in postseason play.” Hmmmmm. That sums up what yesterday and the immediate future for Kirk’s squad looks like.

That was fun — nervous at times — but fun nonetheless yesterday at Kinnick as the Hawkeyes celebrated the third annual ANF Game Day with a heart-pounding overtime victory over Northwestern. My takes? First, has C.J. caught a touchdown pass further than 9 yards this season? It doesn’t matter. Just keep catching them. Yesterday’s game-winner was a thing of beauty…but let’s not forget Iowa’s first play in overtime. That 14-yard pass and catch and run from Jake Rudock to Tevaun Smith was beautifully executed. It also gave us a strong glimpse of the future. Those two are going to grow old as Hawkeyes together…and that’s a good thing. I also enjoyed our defensive game plan and, particularly, the play of No. 6 Reggie Spearman, the true freshman defensive end/linebacker. I don’t even pretend to know what coaches know, but I think I know this: Reggie has some quick feet. He also looked pretty comfortable on the edge,

You can read our take on the game HERE.

You can read what Kirk had to say afterward HERE.

You can watch some great video HERE.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the play of our three senior linebackers. My brother-in-law suggested during postgame that it looked like James’ primary focus on Saturday was Colter. Christian Kirksey…just another team-high 12 tackles. And Anthony Hitchens…he was all over the field. Speaking of linebackers, some think that will be a huge hole on the depth chart for the staff to fill prior to next year and it will be. Replacing three seniors as talented in so many ways is never easy. But this comment by Kirk in yesterday’s visit postgame with the media may give all of us reason to relax. The answer came in response to the changes we saw on the defensive side of the ball at times on Saturday: “Part of the thinking is that we’re a little deeper at linebacker than we are at some other spots and we had Dom (Alvis) out today.”

I would like to thank our fans for making the closing minutes of this year’s ANF celebration so memorable. Has Kinnick ever been louder than what it was on the Wildcats’ final four plays from scrimmage?

I would like to thank our fans for making the closing minutes of this year’s ANF celebration so memorable. Has Kinnick ever been louder than what it was on the Wildcats’ final four plays from scrimmage?

Iowa split a pair of important contests against Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday of this week. The first, a 2-1 loss in field hockey during the sun-filled afternoon, came with some controversy — an important call that went against the good guys — and snapped a five-game winning streak for Tracey Griesbaum’s nationally ranked squad. You can read more detail and check out some pictures HERE. The Hawkeyes entertain UC-Davis today at 1 p.m. on Grant Field. The second happened under the stars and was a first for the UI’s soccer program. Senior Cloe Lacasse’s goal in the 75th minute broke a 2-all tie with the nationally ranked Nittany Lions and gave Iowa its first win over PSU in 18 tries. You can read about it HERE. You can also read about how an unexpected shower by the Iowa Soccer Complex’s sprinkler system couldn’t dampen the excitement of the win HERE. The victory was Iowa’s 12th of the season, which ties the high-water mark for the program, and Rainey’s squad has at least three more games to play, the next two at home beginning with a 1 p.m. date with Ohio State today.

Did you get to the Blowout Friday night? If not, you missed a treat. You also missed some pretty entertaining basketball. Lisa Bluder’s Hawkeyes might be short in number but they are not short in talent. And, count me among the group that suggests that rookie Ally Disterhoft will one of those Hawkeyes that has one of those brilliant four-year careers in black and gold. The Iowa City product has done nothing but win during her career to date and I’ll go out on a limb and predict that continues for the next four years. On the men’s side, you can almost feel the excitement and expectation any time that group walks into a room and Friday night was no different…and they delivered. Fran’s group is deep, talented and experienced. The star of the night? Gabe Olaseni. Fans of the Hawkeyes will be talking about his slam in the night’s dunk contest for years. It was a beauty. You can read our take on the special event HERE. You can read a little more about Gabe and his perfect 10’s HERE, compliments of Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. You can watch Gabe’s effort (at the 2-minute mark) and more HERE.

I read this one, twice, and a third time… HERE. Every program has its challenges. Apparently, one of those for the football program at Alabama is keeping the student section filled to capacity for the entire 60 minutes of every home game including, for games like last Saturday’s 52-0 drubbing of former Hawkeye Bret Bielema’s Arkansas Razorbacks. That win followed 42, 25, and 28-point home victories by Nick Saban’s team. I wonder if the Bama fans stayed until the end of yesterday’s thrashing of Tennessee?

Speaking of Bret, if you haven’t been following the goings-on of the former Hawkeye-turned-Wildcat-turned-Badger-turned-Razorback, here’s a status report, for those of you who are curious, and it also serves as a reminder how difficult it is to build a college football program: Bret’s team has lost its last two games by a total score of 104-7 and five in a row after a 3-0 start against non-descript nonconference opponents. The Hogs enjoyed a bye yesterday. Those two most recent losses came at the aforementioned No. 1 Alabama and at home against then No. 14 South Carolina. Here’s what “The Ol’ Ball Coach — veteran SEC coach Steve Spurrier — offered after his Gamecocks’ victory in Fayetteville: “I do feel badly for Arkansas. It’s no fun getting your butt beat like this, at home on Homecoming and all that.” Ouch. Apparently, they don’t sugarcoat postgame comments in the SEC. And, if you look at what’s left in 2013 for Bret’s squad – HERE – it’s possible that that five-game losing streak might reach nine. Ouch again.

For the record, I live my college football life with blinders on 90 percent of the time: I concern myself with one team — our Iowa Hawkeyes — and one conference — the grandest of them all, the Big Ten. The latter shifts a little when the calendar flips to November because, at that time of the year, it’s important to start surveying the national landscape a little more closely.

I’ve told you the Wall Street Journal’s one-page sports section if the best one-page sport section — if not the best sport section — going. Here’s another example: HERE.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due No. 1: Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports noted this way down in the “Mentionables” of his column — < href=”http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/writer/dennis-dodd/24137296/weekend-watch-list-you-want-answers-just-wait-a-week”> HERE — dated Oct. 25, 2013: The Big Ten is the second-highest scoring conference in the country (to the Pac-12, 34.2 points per game). I thought the league was generally faring well on the “let’s entertain them with offense” meter. Our 17-10 game yesterday didn’t help our league’s scoring average, but it was an 11 on the entertainment meter.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due No. 2: Lisa Pearson is the director of marketing for the UI Athletics Department and the person behind 97 percent of the magic of our Blowout event. She gets great support from lots of other members of our staff and works closely with staff of our two basketball programs, but she’s the one behind things like Fran emerging from an oversized blow-up basketball…which is something I would love to see him do during a regular season game.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due No. 3: Speaking of staffs…I was thinking about how busy our staff is this weekend. We had field hockey Friday afternoon, women’s soccer Friday night, the Blowout Friday night, a little all-day thing called an Iowa football game Saturday morning and afternoon, a pair of guests playing field hockey Saturday as well, and, today, more soccer and field hockey, and our rowing team’s Head of Iowa event. We also had recruits and donors and special guests on campus one or two or more of the days. It was also Parents Weekend. And, since I was at the golf course early in the day, I do know that our golf course was also open for business as was our Herky’s Locker Room locations…which reminds me to remind you that the annual Blackout game is the home season finale against Michigan.

We also honored our second ANF Wall of Honor Hawkeye, Jared DeVries, this weekend. What a gentleman…and what a representative of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Iowa Farm Bureau, and all that ANF is intended to stand for. Here’s a nice summary with links to video and photographs for you to enjoy: HERE.

Speaking of the Iowa Farm Bureau, allow me to thank them for being a great partner on the ANF initiative. Great people who are good at what they do.

I had the pleasure yesterday to walk from Kinnick to Carver postgame with a member of our basketball coaching staff. We talked a little about our quarterback. Coaches — no matter the sport — see things a little differently than fans like you and me. We did agree that the guy running our offense is really salty today and has a chance to be really good.

I think Saturday’s game was only the second overtime affair in Kinnick. I know we beat Michigan State a few years back in an extra session or, maybe, two. I think I also heard on the Hawkeye Radio Network that we have emerged victorious in six of nine games that went overtime. My brothers and I huddled for the first time in years a few weeks back for a family wedding and we discussed the college game’s overtime structure. While I see my brothers’ primary point — you shouldn’t take possession already within field goal distance — right now I’m not inclined to suggest a change. It seems to be working for Kirk’s squad

If you told me Minnesota would be 6-2 and Northwestern would be 4-4 and 0-4 in Big Ten play on the morning of Oct. 27, 2013 back in August, I would have scratched my head. You would have been scratching yours, too. Here’s a link to the league’s standings: HERE. As I said last week…lots of football to be played.

Lastly, here’s a little extra on yesterday’s victory: HERE. And, yes, as you’ll find out when you read it, that “Hail Mary” at the end to C.J. wasn’t a hope and a prayer after all. It’s called preparation and that’s a by-product of superior coaching.