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Hawk Talk

I missed my first home football opener in 30 YEARS!
My nephew Kasey decided to get married last Saturday and since he married a great young lady (Rachael) I decided to go to Kalamazoo, Michigan… a five-hour drive (six if you get lost like my brother Arne and I did).
I did tell my two nieces, Robyn and Kym, that there are seven days I hope they don’t get married on… home football weekends. They schedule these games two years in advance so…
We stayed in this really cool bed and breakfast called the Kalamazoo House.
It was built in 1878 and had a lot of the original woodwork. Great food, great rooms but one major problem… only one Big Ten Network channel and it had the Penn State game on.
Actually three problems… the TV, 92 degrees outside and my brother Arne, who I roomed with, snored…
So Arne and I had a mission Friday night… find a sports bar that had the Iowa game on.
We went to rehearsal dinner and their was a sports bar right down the street only a couple blocks from the B&B.
They said they could get the game, so we showed up Saturday morning around 11:55 a..m. The game started at 12 p.m. eastern time and they searched for a while, but finally found it.
We missed Marcus Cooker’s fumbles so when I saw Mika’il McCall running the ball I was hoping it was because he was switching with Marcus.
I thought he ran tough and then he broke his ankle… not a great start.
I was pretty impressed with the offense and defense for the most part and the special teams did their part, so outside of losing Mika’il and playing in a downpour it was a decent first game.
I’ve been listing or watching Iowa football for over 45 years and don’t remember them stopping a game because of lightning. Then I read that in the history of Kinnick Stadium, which spans over 82 years, a game has never been delayed like that.
To break the game down, I’ll start with the defense.
Iowa replaced six starters which included Jeff Tarpinian and that was supposed to be a concern.
I know Tennessee Tech is Division AA and they only have 60 scholarships compared to Iowa’s 85 but they had 11 starters back on offense and 10 on defense so they could be a good team by the end of the year.
The first team defense held the Golden Eagles, who run a spread offense, to 37 yards rushing in 17 attempts in the first half.
That’s barely over two yards a pop.
Tech completed 10-16 passes for 57 yards which is only 5.7 yards per catch in the first half.
For the game, the Eagles averaged 3.1 yards per carry and had 18 first downs, only seven in the first half.
I saw a lot more quickness with the front four and a friend of mine Rick, who has followed Iowa as long as I have, said he thought the back seven, including linebackers and defensive backs, could be the most athletic group he’s seen at Iowa. I agreed.
You have to love Shaun’s Prater’s  89-yard interception return for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half.
Shaun went up for the ball, snatched it away form the Tech player and darted down the sideline for a 24-0 halftime lead.
How about James Morris and his first pick, which he returned 52 yards. We all knew when he got the ball he could run.
James also tied with first-time starter Christian Kirksey with 10 tackles. It’s good to have two linebackers leading in tackles.
Jordan Bernstine, who didn’t start but played most of the game, had eight tackles and returned a kickoff 38 yards.
Jordan needs to have a great senior year.
I liked Anthony Hitchens coming off the bench and getting seven tackles.
Christian and Anthony bring a lot more speed to the linebacker position.
The front four, which included eight or nine players, held their own and kept pressure all day on the Eagle quarterback.
The defensive backs played solid as they were seeing five receiver sets a lot.
The Offense
Marvin Mc Nutt is a pretty good football player. I know Hawk fans, teammates and coaches are glad he and Shaun Prater decided to come back instead of going pro.
I thought Tennessee Tech would double-team him more, but they gave him a cushion and he made them pay.
When he caught the sideline pass that he turned into a 88-yard score, I thought for sure that Tech would knock him out of bounds… not so fast my friend, as Marvin showed why he will be playing on Sunday next year. At 6-4, 215 pounds, he makes a great target.
Keenan Davis had a couple of nice catches including one circus catch that set up Iowa’s first touchdown. He tipped the ball in the air and then grabbed it before it hit the ground.
The Hawks had seven players with receptions but there were too many dropped passes, which should improve without rain.
I’ve always liked James Vandenberg. He’s got a great arm, doesn’t get rattled and is a good leader.
His stats, 13-21 for 219 yards and two scores, should have had at least four more completions.
A.J. Derby, one of the highest-recruited athletes in the last few years, made his debut at quarterback.
He threw five passes completing two, but at least one was dropped. I can’t wait to see him run the option sometime soon.
The offensive line was solid and they gave James good protection. They will get better.
Marcus Cooker wasn’t as sharp as he needs to be. I doubt if he’ll fumble much more this season.
Backup running backs will be interesting.
De’Andre Johnson had eight carries for 33 yards and Jason White had one carry. True freshman Damon Bullock had a kickoff return for 23 yards.
I don’t think there is a clear-cut favorite at number two right now.
Special Teams
You have to start with Eric Guthrie, the fifth year senior who waited for four-year starter Ryan Donahue to graduate at punter.
Eric had three kicks, with rain and wind coming down, and averaged 39 yards, with two going inside the 20.
Mike Meyers was 2-2 in field goals and 4-4 in extra points. Once again, wind and rain were not the best conditions.
Tennessee Tech averaged 22.7 yards on kickoff returns, Iowa 30.5.
The Hawks travel to Ames next week to play the ‘Clones, who squeaked out a 20-19 victory over UNI.
Iowa needs big time improvement if they want two straight wins to start the season.