November 12, 2012
It was another busy weekend of Hawkeye sports with the kickoff to the 2012-13 basketball season on Friday night, followed by the next to last home game for the Iowa Football team on Saturday.
Once again, this weekend was filled with some very good moments, especially with the basketball team, and then some really poor moments for the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.
Without further adieu, here are a few thoughts from the weekend of Hawkeye sports.
1. I think I really like the whole pregame presentation at Kinnick Stadium. Actually, I know I liked it. What a great way to honor our friends and family who have served and protected us over the years. The giant American flag was really incredible and seeing players from both teams reach out and help hold up the giant version of Old Glory was very moving. Always love seeing Captain America Herky as well. Kirk Ferentz wanted the honoring of our military to be handled in a classy and respectful way and it was.
2. I think I'm kind of undecided about the uniforms this weekend. On one hand, I like the theme and honoring the military in that manner. On the other hand, call me a traditionalist, but I would rather have the standard issue black helmet instead of a silver helmet. Maybe stick with the previous version with the star spangled tiger hawk on the black helmet.
3. I think Kirk Ferentz made a mistake in his post game trying to tout games played a month ago as a positive sign for this football team. The facts are what they are and certainly his team did play well and beat Minnesota and Michigan State. They deserve credit for that. They also had a legitimate shot at winning the past two weeks. The larger fact is the Hawkeyes have lost four in a row and the last two were to an Indiana team that won its first Big Ten game the previous week and then losing at home to a Purdue team that had lost five in a row before Saturday. You can't sell wins a month ago as a sign of progress, especially since you haven't won a game since then.
4. I think we are headed towards a flashpoint moment of the Ferentz era at Iowa. That flashpoint will likely happen when thousands of Nebraska fans fill up Kinnick Stadium the day after Thanksgiving and they won't be looking for Black Friday bargains to put under the Christmas tree. I think it's fair to say that Iowa is likely headed towards a 4-8 season. It will be a season where the final image is maybe 20, 000 Cornhusker fans are invading the home turf of the Hawkeyes. That's not the final snap shot you want, even if you could say it's an appropriate image for this season. Over the years Iowa fans have taken great pride in wrapping up a season with a trip to Minnesota and taking over the Dome, otherwise known as Kinnick North. It's never pretty when you are on the other side of something like this.
5. I'll be Captain Obvious here and say I think the Greg Davis as the offense coordinator deal isn't working out very well. Who would have thought that Iowa fans would be longing for the days of Ken O'Keefe. Remember a wise man tried to tell everyone who would listen that this has been and always will be the boss's offense? No one wanted to listen and KOK was guy who took the message board beat downs. It's pretty simply really, Davis is exactly who the folks from Austin said he was. He's a really great guy. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet in the coaching profession. But, he's married to a horizontal passing scheme and throwing short of the sticks on 3rd down more than throwing beyond them. It's been a square peg trying to fit into a round hole with James Vandenberg. I understand that Iowa fans want Davis to be one and done, but ask yourself this and give an honest answer, do you think a new guy would provide some sort of magical changes to Iowa's offense?
6. I think I'll defend Iowa's beleaguered quarterback. In the fans eyes, James Vandenberg has become the fall guy for this season. Some of that is fair. He's the quarterback and the leader of the offense. When the offense doesn't move the ball and score points, the fingers will always point in his direction. The larger question has to be, is it fair to point only at him? Not really. Changes in the backfield, a square peg/round hole offense that doesn't seem to fit him, a big amount of drops by receivers, and injuries on the offensive line have all been a factors when it comes to the lack of production. Does Vandenberg shoulder some of the blame? Sure. All of it? Not if you look at the situation fairly and objectively.
7. I think this Iowa basketball team is pretty darn good. On Friday night they beat the University of Texas -Pan American by 31 points and to be honest, it didn't feel like the Hawkeyes played their best game. When was the last time you said that about an Iowa Basketball team? Yeah, it's been a while. The depth is terrific and the starters are really playing like a cohesive unit. The best part of this team right now is the chemistry. They have it and it shows on and off the court.
8. I think if Melshan Basabe can play like he did on Friday night, he's going to bounce back nicely from his sophomore slump. He was back to being the bouncy Basabe that we saw in his freshman year, putting up 9 points and ten rebounds. He always threw in a pair of blocked shots on the defensive end. Fran McCaffery wants to use his bench and when you can have a guy like Basabe coming off that bench; it's a positive sign for this season.
9. I think, I'll talk a little woman's hoops for a moment and give a tip of the cap to Morgan Johnson. After two games, Johnson is averaging 17.5 points per game, which leads the team, and she scored 24 on Sunday afternoon against Illinois State. Many fans might not realize that Johnson is a world class student and wants to be a doctor someday. She's also one heck of a basketball player and one of the nicest people you ever meet. Johnson always makes time for fans and does so with a smile on her face and shows interest in them.
10. I think I need to talk about Tom Brands for a minute. This past week was Iowa Wrestling media day and frankly, it's always one of the highlights of the year for me because Tom Brands never fails to deliver. Intensity? Check. Fire? Yep. Unintentional humor? Always. Fired up and ready to go
that's Tom Brands every day of the year. I'll never claim to be a wrestling expert, but I think Brands really likes this team quite a bit. Will they return to their rightful place at the top of NCAA Wrestling? Too soon to tell, but Brands feels good about his squad and that gives me a lot of confidence heading into the season.
Bonus Thought: I think this is the one thought I have that many of you will complain about. I think some of Iowa fans are simply looking for things to complain about and aren't be consistent in your stance. What I'm talking about is the decision to go for it on 4th down late in the game against Purdue. I've seen more than a few posts from people saying the right thing to do was punt. Some of the same folks who ripped into Kirk Ferentz for making the opposite decision last week at Indiana with worse field position and more time on the clock. It's hard to have it both ways on this one and then pretend to be consistent. Sure, the circumstances in the game were different, but the idea is the same. Last week, I questioned Ferentz for not going for it against Indiana and said it was the wrong decision. This week, I'm glad he went for it on 4th and short. The play call
that's another story, but at least the effort was made on Saturday.
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