Reports of the 2012 Iowa Hawkeyes’ death have been greatly exaggerated.
After falling to Central Michigan in spectacular fashion Iowa fans didn’t simply push the panic button, they bludgeoned it with rapidly emptied whisky bottles.
What a difference a week makes.
The empty whiskey bottles were just as prevalent, but after dismantling a previously undefeated Minnesota team, they existed in an environment of celebration for a 1-0 conference record and the acquisition of a giant pig trophy.
Here are some winners and losers from Iowa’s best win of the 2012 season to date.
When the offense experiences a run of three-and-out possessions, the strain it puts on the defensive unit forced to spend excessive time on the field with little relief is widely acknowledged.
Yet few are willing to extend such sympathies to the physical and emotional demands put on fans when the powers that be keep them on the parking lot by stacking four consecutive home games on the front half of the schedule.
Iowa’s most impressive effort to date came at the best possible time in the schedule. The Hawkeyes enter their bye week feeling much better about themselves, but they are in serious need of the extra prep time before heading to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.
And it gives overworked, overstuffed and over-served fans a little time to hit the antacid, mix in a salad and get a few things done around the house.
In the documentary 4,192, baseball’s hit king and wearer of unfortunate hairdos, Pete Rose, speaks to the mentality of a superstar uncomfortable taking a day off. Even elite athletes at the top of their craft are not immune to insecurity. Even as a perennial All-Star, Rose always believed a day off would leave the door open for someone to take his job.
Jordan Canzeri, Barkley Hill, Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon can relate.
Each of those Hawkeye running backs had to fear an injury would give one of the others an opportunity to lock down the position. When all four went down, they probably assumed their open competition would resume upon return.
Just as long as a walk-on fullback filling in as the emergency option didn’t become an instant superstar and never relinquish the starting role. But really, what are the odds of that actually happening?
Mark Weisman is an unequivocal stud. The four other running backs will resume competition upon their return, but they will be competing to be the complementary change-of-pace back to the punishing Weisman.
Iowa fans have made it very clear with their actions; they will completely embrace a kicker, so long as he is a homegrown talent, has pinpoint accuracy, a booming leg capable of connecting on field goals of 50 yards and the ability to rewrite the program’s record book at the position.
Mike Meyer has been Kaeding-esque in his reliability this season.
A quality kicking game has been a common denominator among successful Hawkeye teams of the past. This team has a lot of issues to clean up, but Meyer’s kicking is not one of them.
A hilarious piece that appeared on Black Heart Gold Pants after the Hawkeyes’ loss to Iowa State suggested Kirk Ferentz was using the vacant traveling trophy case in the football building to display his collection of model Oldsmobiles.
Unfortunately there is still room for plenty of model cars in the case meant to hold four trophies, but with Floyd of Rosedale back in Iowa City, at least Kirk will have to think long and hard about which Oldsmobiles will make the cut and which go back home to Brian’s old room.
Just when it seemed like the dream of a Hawkeye football poster with players dressed as the Three Amigos was dead forever, the Iowa linebackers went out in the conference opener and put on an absolute clinic.
The three starting linebackers—James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey—combined for 27 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Morris was his typical reliable self, making open-field tackles all over the field. Kirksey has taken a little heat in the weeks leading up to Minnesota, but on Saturday he had arguably his finest day in a Hawkeye uniform, culminating with an interception taken to the end zone to put the game on ice.
If these guys aren’t in full Three Amigos get-up by the end of the bye week, someone in the marketing department is asleep at the wheel.
If there is one thing in a dominant victory that may have foreshadowed problems down the road for the Hawkeyes it was the continued struggles in the passing game. Specifically, they continue to get inconsistent quarterback play and their receivers have yet to successfully adjust their routes to exploit corner blitzes.
If Iowa does not develop their ability to identify blitz packages and keep defenses honest, they will have major issues against the blitz-happy Spartans.
In other words, Michigan State will want to increase the amount of conditioning in its practices before it welcomes Iowa, because it is going to be bringing the house all day long.
The good news is Iowa has two weeks to focus on countering that approach. If the Hawkeyes are successful, the reports of their death will have been greatly exaggerated. If not, they were just a little early and the shot of life from the victory over Minnesota will be short-lived.