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October 15, 2007A Hawkeye win is always going to heat things up in Iowa City and in this weeks edition of What's Hot, What's Not, we take a fun and closer look at the Iowa Football team starting to sizzle again. This week Mike Humpal stays plenty warm and those who did not wear black on Saturday are cooling off.
What's hot is a win in what's becoming a fierce border rivalry, which with the arrival of Ron Zook has become increasingly bitter. Iowa and Illinois entered the game seemingly heading in opposite directions. The Illini were on a high coming off a win over the Badgers, and entered Kinnick Stadium with their first national ranking in many years and a swagger in their step. The Hawkeyes came in with an 8 game losing streak and an uncertain, to put it mildly, offense. So, of course, as everyone predicted, the Hawkeyes dominated the time of possession, finally giving the defense a chance to catch their breath and play like they are capable. Muy, muy caliente.
Speaking of defense, Mike Humpal is hot. Since his running mate Mike Klinkenborg went down, Humpal has stepped up his game in a big way. Saturday's game is probably his best to date, with 18 tackles (2-1/2 for loss) and a fumble recovery. The guy also has pretty good hands for a linebacker, as witnessed by his interceptions in previous games. If Klink doesn't come back next week, I may have to implement a new t-shirt design: "We Will, We Will, Hump You." Maybe I should think that one through a little more
What's hot is improvement in the new faces cropping up here and there throughout the game. Dan Doering and Bryan Bulaga, along with a healthy Julian Vandervelde, gave a definite lift to an at times beleaguered offensive line. A great effort from Christian Ballard and Adrian Clayborn provided some depth for the defensive line, and they held their own out there, even sparkling at times. In the linebacking corps, Jacoby Coleman got his first start and reminded some of one Demond Sanders, flying around like a ninja with bad intentions.
Speaking of Bob Sanders, while he came down with an illness, naming he and Dallas Clark as honorary captains was a stroke of genius. I'm sure in his pre-game talk, Dallas not only pumped up the offense, but relayed a few things from Bob to the defense. Whatever he said, it seemed to work, as Iowa came out humming, appearing both relaxed and ready to go to work. Having Super Bowl champions who still want to help their Hawkeyes and be involved in the program is hot.
Finally, what's hot is improvement, the hallmark of the Ferentz era. While it's seemed too long in coming to many of us, it was definitely visible on the field on Saturday. Christensen is beginning to learn, with a couple of exceptions, that you have to countdown time in the pocket, and when that timer goes off, you get rid of it. Jake was only sacked twice this week, having spent previous weeks on his back more than Paris Hilton her first night out of the pokey. The offensive line is learning how to hold their blocks, giving the young QB some time to breathe and work through his progressions. The defense is learning that if the offense holds their own in terms of time of possession, they can be one of the better units in the country. And Iowa fans are learning that the talent is there on this team, and Ferentz will get it out of them.
As promised, this week we'll look at some of the more negative aspects of the game. What's not hot is a crisp offense moving up and down the field and enjoying a ten minute time of possession advantage, and not having much on the scoreboard to show for it. As mentioned above, hopefully the next step in the learning curve is punching that thing in the end zone. Give yourself a reward for all your hard work, guys.
Wearing anything other than black to a game that is called the Blackout game is definitely non caliente. As a friend of mine can attest, if you don't have black, beg, borrow, steal, or go to the Jordan Creek Scheels and buy something black-talk to Brenda, after several trips to the basement to paw through the stuff down there, she'll hook you up. Listen, I'm as opposed to pink Hawkeye t-shirts as the next guy, but I can live with them. But not on Blackout or Gold Rush Day. I may be opening my own t-shirt business soon, shoot me an email and I'll hook you up with something nice.
What's decidedly un-hot is not taking a shot at a big play after a turnover. You can ask Dallas Clark's quarterback how effective that can be, as he is the best at it. While he seems like a nice enough guy off the field, Payton is a killer once he steps on it, and he doesn't have any mercy. With the defense demoralized and maybe a half-step slow after having to return to the field before they were expecting it, you may just catch them by surprise. Something an offense that struggles to put the ball in the end zone could definitely use.
What's not hot is criticizing a team or unit without offering an alternative. It's easy to sit back and say "fire this guy" or "change this" without putting yourself out there and relating who you would replace "that guy" with. It's easy to tell someone that they should "change" something without explaining what the change should be and how to implement that change. What's not easy is coming up with a solution, and I think that is all too often forgotten. Think about that the next time you offer up a knee jerk reaction when in mixed company.
Finally, what's fairly tepid is former, and hopefully future, Hawkeye commit Jason Ford re-opening his recruiting. The six foot, 215 lb. bruiser has decided that he wants to look around to be sure. The Hawkeye staff usually encourages this sort of thing, as they want to make sure a player wants to be there. Jason, if you're out there, I wish you the best wherever you decide to play, but I hope you wind up donning the black and gold. Take a look at what could be your coach and fans after the game on Saturday. We would love to have you share in that, and could definitely use you next year. Tell you what: as an added bonus for deciding to be a Hawkeye, when you re-commit, I'll stick you above the fold in the Hot section...no good? Free t-shirt? Wait, I don't want to bring any sanctions down on the program for recruiting violations err, Jason, we'll work something out wink, wink.
See you next week, and remember: all t-shirt ideas are the property of B'sstoopidtees and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of me or at least a reasonable forgery of said consent-which will be sold in the lobby on your way out.
Questions or comments? Free t-shirt?* Contact me at email@example.com.
*I have no t-shirts to give, yet.