Let’s first remember to wear green on Saturday in honor of former Hawkeye Brett Greenwood. Greenwood is still in a coma at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. On a lighter note, ULM rolls into town and tomorrow’s game kicks off at 11 AM. Fans that expect a Hawkeye blowout, I wouldn’t hold your breathe. The Warhawks are tested and have a lot of experience on both sides of the ball. Nevertheless Iowa has more talent and is better coached, so here is what to look for tomorrow.
1. Who Leads The Offense? – In years past, the Hawkeye offense has thrived running the ball. However, their strengths lie with the offensive line and at wide receiver. James Vandenberg had a coming out party last Saturday when he threw for 399 yards and 3 TDs in a comeback win over Pittsburgh. Marcus Coker hasn’t lived up to high expectations so far, and has a real opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do. Will Ken O’Keefe let Vandenberg line up in shotgun and throw the ball 30 times a game? Or will he continue to stick with the philosophy that has gotten him here, run the ball and open up playaction.
2. Louisiana-Monroe’s 3-3-5 – The 3-3-5 defense is one of the more non-conventional defenses in football. You’d think having only 6 players in the box would open up the running lanes for opposing offenses. However, the Warhawks have limited opponents to 108 ypg on the ground, a surprising number. They don’t run your typical 3-3-5. Cornerbacks and safeties line up at linebacker, and the Louisiana-Monroe coaching staff has the ability to throw a whole bunch of looks at you. I’m intrigued to see how well the offensive line can pick up on the different looks they will see, and how they adjust.
3. Special Teams Consistency – Mike Meyer was a perfect 7-7 before he missed a field goal right before the end of the 1st half last Saturday. Given another attempt in the 3rd quarter, Meyer’s kick had plenty of distance but was wide right. The sophomore kicker has plenty of leg to knock down the 50+ yarders, but he can’t continue to leave opponents with good field position following misses. Eric Guthrie, too, has been inconsistent. The senior punter had a few good punts on Saturday, forcing Ptt’s return man to take a few steps back. However Guthrie’s average of 44.4 isn’t all that great, especially considering he hasn’t had to punt out of his own endzone too often. I look forward to seeing Meyer rebound and more consistency from Guthrie on Saturday.