After a week off, the Iowa Football team and the Hawkeye Roundtable make their return this weekend as Iowa travels to Michigan State for their first true road test. The Roundtable talks about the Micah Hyde's off the field incident last weekend, who we chose as the MVP's on both sides of the fooball, plus how Iowa wins this weekend our predictions for Saturday afternoon's contest.
1. Probably the biggest news of the past week was the off the field incident involving Micah Hyde. Did Coach Ferentz handle it correctly?
MIKE ZIERATH: Yeah, I feel he did. Each incident is handled individually, always has been. There are many circumstances we aren't always aware of that go on behind the scenes that factor into the punishments extended. First offense, don't have the whole story, rest assured that Coach Ferentz does and has handled this appropriately with all three individuals.
LYLE HAMMES: These issues are always tricky. You'd like it to be something simple across the board, like one game suspension for a person's first offense, more severe for the second, and off the team for his third. The problem is, every situation is unique, and no matter what we think, we never know all the circumstances for these legal issues. In other words, who are we to judge? I don't envy Coach Ferentz in these situations. Micah Hyde seems to be a good student-athlete, and I hope he bounces back with a solid remainder of his senior season.
TOM KAKERT: I went back and forth on this one. Initially, I thought a suspension was in order given that Hyde was a senior captain. I thought it would send the wrong message to the rest of the team and frankly, make the job harder in the future for Kirk Ferentz should a similar situation occur. But, having heard from Hyde this week, it certainly appears that there is more to the story and while Hyde is not completely innocent, there is certainly some wiggle room.
JON LAZAR: I was talking to a few Hawks fans, and it is too bad that the Iowa team does not put a VAN is place to pick up players or a service that they can call so they do not get in trouble. Hey, it can happen to anyone, and it does not mean he is a bad kid... He seems on the contrary. Losing his Captain status certainly would have been the right move to make as the captain is supposed to be a leader. He still is and it is just that with this happening, a move had to be made to protect the integrity of that captain spot... or, you could have any thug who plays football well and in trouble off the field leading your team... they do not work well together... Coach did the right thing and I am surprised that they also did not make him sit.. I am glad they did not, but other teams may have taken that position.
2. Since we are near the midpoint of the season. Your choice for Iowa's MVP on offense and why.
MIKE ZIERATH: Easy: Mark Weisman. Who would have thought this was even possible. Right now, he's the feel good story in Iowa City. Good kid, practices hard, plays harder....just needed an opportunity, and when he got one, he made the most of it. Will be interesting to see how the carries play out the rest of the year. I say ride the hot hand till there is a reason not too!
LYLE HAMMES: In general, the offense has been somewhat underwhelming to me at times so it's hard to pick a standout. The most obvious pick, at least over the last few games, would have to be Mark Weisman. We're down to a skeleton crew of running backs, and Weisman has taken the starting spot and run with it. He's proven more than capable and is an enjoyable "next man in" to watch. To be fair, the offensive line has performed well recently to open up these holes, so they need to be acknowledged also. After allowing six sacks in week one, they've not allowed a single one since, which is impressive.
TOM KAKERT: The obvious choice here is Mark Weisman. No one saw this coming, even Weisman and he has been nothing short of sensational since taking over as the starter at running back. More importantly, I think he's given the Hawkeyes the spark they were looking for on offense and that might be his biggest impact. Even with Damon Bullock returning this week, I think Ferentz will continue to ride this hot hand until it cools off.
JON LAZAR: Weisman for sure... without question... He has been the bright point on the entire team . If he keeps on course, he will be the MVP. I wrote him and friended him on Facebook to offer any advice if needed. The one thing I told him is that the IOWA fans have not had, was a solid running back for a long time. Meaning one that stays around.... is not a 1 year player, and he gets in trouble kind of person. I told him that he has a great opportunity before him, and that the Iowa fans are depending on him to set a better standard than what has been attempted the last 5 years. He thanked me and was very respectful. I see great things for him.
3. Your choice for MVP on defense and why.
MIKE ZIERATH: Another easy choice for me: Anthony Hitchens. Leads the nation in team, conference and nation in tackles (ok, he did before the bye week), also plays hard, has a nose for the ball and can still get better. The future of the Iowa LB Corp looks good the next 15 months or so. It will be interesting to watch the transformation after this group graduates. Who is the next Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey?
LYLE HAMMES: I'll go with Anthony Hitchens. At least his production on defense has been the most surprising to me. After the Minnesota game he ranked third in the nation in tackles, which includes one game of 19 tackles. James Morris should also be acknowledged. Though he may not have as many tackles, I feel he provides great leadership on the team, and is exactly the type of player you like to see represent the Hawkeyes.
TOM KAKERT: I'm going to go with James Morris. I know the conventional wisdom suggests going with Anthony Hitchens because of his high number of tackles. But, Morris isn't too far off the totals Hitchens has achieved and has also been the emotional leader and captain of the defense. Morris has really elevated his play this year and is playing the best football of his career.
JON LAZAR: I would have though Micah was leading the pack but this bad turn has eliminated him from the consideration. I would have to say 44 for the way he is getting the Defense through the tough times... It all started with James and I think he is the only choice at this point. No real strong choice here as the Defense has struggled this year.
4. Has your view on the Iowa season changed based on the first five games and is so, how has it changed?
MIKE ZIERATH: Not really. Still kinda muddy. I said it a couple times before the season started, this team could be 4-9 or it could be 10-2. Still not sure which way it will go, but I'm beating it won't be the latter. Seriously, I've never seen an Iowa team that was more difficult to read than this one. When they play together, they really play well. I'd put them against anyone. Really. When they don't, they are bad. Real bad. Head shaking bad! They have yet to put two halves together. They need to. I will say this, the offense is worse than I thought they might be, even though they are scoring more points now. The defense is better than I thought they would be, but they are giving up a few more points now too. This is a mediocre team most days.
LYLE HAMMES: I picked them to be 4-1 at this point, and they've fallen a game short. I've waffled back and forth between 7-5 and 6-6 as a season record for months. Previously I was more on the 7-5 side, now I'm more 6-6. Somewhere they'll have to pick up a win they shouldn't. This weekend would be just that, but East Lansing is a tough place to start.
TOM KAKERT: My view hasn't changed a whole lot. I did pick Iowa to be 5-0 before the season and they nearly pulled that off. Of course, you could make a case that Iowa should be 2-3. This team doesn't have much of a margin for error and my sense is a lot of folks understand that going into their predictions. I had Iowa going 8-4 this year and I think it's going to be really hard to get there. More likely result is going to be 6-6 or 7-5.
JON LAZAR: I viewed this season like many here at Iowa, let's wait and see approach as I believe as a fan, none of us really knew what we had this year or how the season would go...
That is why I have not looked confident coming into this season as we really don't know what Iowa team is going to show up.. We knew we had the talent, and we love it when we hit on all cylinders, but every game has been different.. There have been numerous struggles.. both on Defense and on Offense. My opinion has not changed, as it is one that at the end of each game, I know if Iowa was on or off. There are, of course, 2 new coordinators that are trying to get their feel for this team, so we have to take that into consideration here.. I think as the season goes on, this team will feel better about themselves, and take each game as it comes. I see this team much like a junior high kid that is very awkward. Really trying to find his groove as a person. This team is much like that...
5. Michigan State is next up for the Hawkeyes. What's your key(s) to Iowa coming home from East Lansing with a win?
5. Michigan State is next up for the Hawkeyes. What's your key(s) to Iowa coming home from East Lansing with a win?
MIKE ZIERATH: I kind of mentioned this already, but they need to play an entire game. Haven't seen that yet. The conference schedule looks to be a little tougher than most probably thought it would be and the next three games will make or break the Hawks this year. MSU, PSU and Northwestern. All could be wins, all could be losses. They will need to play some very fundamentally sound football against MSU to come home with a win.
LYLE HAMMES: Iowa will have to put together their best game of the season - by far - to beat the Spartans. Our offense has struggled at times to put up points against much lesser defenses than the one they'll face Saturday. Vandenberg and his receivers absolutely have to be in sync for us to have a chance, and our running game has to be serviceable. Michigan State may not be what they've been the last couple seasons, but they're still good enough to win the Legends Division. This is one of those games where it could become a battle of field position. Kicking, punting, kick coverage, and punt coverage all have to be solid. If any of the three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams) falter, we'll be 3-3 heading into next week.
TOM KAKERT: I expect this one to be very physical. The last time the Hawkeyes traveled to East Lansing in 2009, it was one of the most physical football games I have ever witnessed. I doubt this weekend reaches that level, but the key for Iowa will be to win the physical side of the game and also win the turnover battle. Do those things and Iowa has a chance to sping an upset.
JON LAZAR: Well, I like the fact that this is an away game. I say that as your concentration level is much higher, and your focus too increases.. You are away, you are all about business.. I know how I felt going into MSU in 76...Iowa won 30-17. They were a pretty good team and for some reason, a different focus that day.. Iowa this week will have the same, as I sense a "got nothing to lose " type of approach.. that loose approach does set you free abit to have more fun than other games... I want to see that out of this Iowa team this weekend.
6. Prediction time. Final score of Iowa/Michigan State and your pick to click for the Hawkeyes.
MIKE ZIERATH: MSU has their problems, but so does Iowa. Vandy hasn't exactly proven he can be the road warrior we need him to be. This would be a good step in that direction.....I just hope the Hawks don't let it get out of control. MSU 28, Iowa 17. There are a lot of factors in that decision, the biggest being it's the first conference road game and only the second away from home for the Hawks this season. My pick to click will be Mark Weisman, who keeps Iowa in it.
LYLE HAMMES: The 2009 game at Michigan State was one of the hardest hitting games I've seen in a long time. The 2010 and 2011 games were blowouts, each going in opposite directions. Michigan State, in my mind, has become Iowa's fiercest rivalry in the Big Ten, and there's no love lost between the coaching staffs I would guess. I think it even shows on the recruiting trail. Each of the last three years there has been bad blood between the teams.
Does Iowa have the horses to pull this game off? Based upon what I've seen so far this season, no. They could surprise me, but I just don't see it happening in Iowa's first true road game of the season. We've only won once in East Lansing since the 1990s, and I think it will stay that way. CJ Fiedorowicz will play a big role in the passing game this week, but it won't be enough. Michigan State 31-Iowa 17.
TOM KAKERT: Make no mistake, these teams, and more specifically the coaching staffs, don't seem to be very fond of each other. The motivation will be there for the Hawkeyes. I'm just not sure that they can generate enough offence to get the victory on the road. Michigan State 20 Iowa 10. My pick to click this week is C.J. Fiedorowicz, who catches Iowa's only touchdown pass.
JON LAZAR: Iowa 28 MSU 21
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