Iowa Hawkeyes: Too Fast To Be Furious

By Derek Helling
Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Iowa Hawkeyes are trying to get into the street race without the equipment to do so. I understand the fad is a high number of snaps, starting a play every 10-20 seconds and scoring as many points as quickly as you can. Playing offense that way requires a certain personnel group, however, that the Hawkeyes do not have.

It requires a quarterback that can make split-second decisions well on a consistent basis. Hawkeye quarterback Jake Rudock, with all of one career start under his belt, showed that he’s not quite there yet when there’s a chance to win the game. He got baited into making a throw that led to losing the game. These quarterbacks also need to be the best athlete on the field for the offense to be really proficient. Rudock can scamper, but running a spread-option attack with him at quarterback would be a terrible game plan.

It requires multiple wide receivers that can take a short pass and make would-be tacklers miss. The Hawkeyes have one established wide receiver in Kevonte Martin-Manley, and his ability to make tacklers miss is questionable at best. There are some athletes in the redshirt freshman and true-freshman group, but their experience is an issue right now.

It requires running backs that can come out of the backfield and be just as good if not better at running a route and making a catch as they are at taking a handoff. That is not the strength of either Damon Bullock or Mark Weisman. They are both north-south, take the handoff, hit the hole and cut off the lineman’s hip-type runners. Spreading the field and moving either of those backs laterally to start the play is actually be taking away from their strengths.

Yes, the Hawkeyes scored 27 points and amassed 458 yards of total offense in their first game. They lost, though, partially because of a lack of execution on offensive plays. Perhaps if the Hawkeyes had taken a few more seconds to discuss things after the last snap in those situations, those mistakes would not have been made. Another reason the Hawkeyes lost is because the defense allowed 438 yards and 30 points. Maybe if the offense had stayed on the field a little longer, the defense had gotten a little more rest, and those numbers might have been smaller.

Yet for better or for worse, this new uptempo offense is the M.O. for the Hawkeyes now.

In today’s press conference, head coach Kirk Ferentz said, “there were a couple times actually where the officials kind of slowed us down a little bit, too. We would have liked to have gone a little quicker.”

There is merit to the idea of pushing the pace. It keeps a defense from being able to substitute, lends towards defenders being confused or out of place and helps to fatigue defenders more quickly. You must have the personnel to win games with it, though. If you run uptempo with pro-style offense personnel, like the Hawkeyes have, you’re going to be moving too fast to be furious.

Derek Helling is a University of Iowa football writer for Follow him on Twitter @DRokSH, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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