How UNI Conquers Captain Kirk At Kinnick

(unipanthers.com)

The two blocked field goals are still a painful memory for Panther Fans.  I can remember cutting that video for Sound Off in Des Moines.  Every Sunday night.  For the entire football season.  That team would win 7 games and fail to make the post season.  Iowa would use that scare to finish 11-2 and beat #9 Georgia Tech for all the Tostitos Oranges. The only loses were the annual loss to Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern and a gut-wrenching OT loss at #11 Ohio State on ESPN.

Iowa is looking to have a similar season and perhaps prove people right as a sleeper team in the Big 10.  But, they will not get past week one.  Here is what UNI needs to do finally beat the Hawks..

Clock control

The longer the UNI defense is on the sidelines, the better.

David Johnson (unipanthers.com)

David Johnson (unipanthers.com)

They lack the depth and scholarships that Iowa has and it cost them last time in Iowa City.  Despite Iowa losing TWO running backs, the third string Hebrew Hammer bulldozed the Panthers over, and over, and over again until they had nothing left. Weisman carried the rock 24 times for 114 yards.  Clock control, domination of the line of scrimmage, ball game.

Iowa had the ball for 34:59, UNI had it 25:01 in 2012.  UNI hung with Iowa for the first half but were gassed and run off the field (literally) in the second half.  Iowa held possession for 10:29 in the 4th quarter to put the final nails in the coffin.  Any chance of a comeback was thwarted by a lack of depth and energy, seen in Madison a couple weeks prior .

UNI actually had the ball longer in 2009.  31:56 for UNI versus 27:59 for Iowa.  UNI has the horses to do this again. The offense is deeper and more talented this year.  David Johnson is a once in a lifetime back.  And hopefully he can be used for a once in a lifetime victory.

3rd Down Conversions

In 2009, Iowa was 3 of 12 on Third Down while UNI was 7 of 17. 25% vs 41%.  Iowa had 19 First Downs while UNI had 18.  UNI needs to get close to 20 to win this game.

The 2012 Panther offense was 2 of 10 on 3rd Downs while Iowa was 9 of 14.  20% vs 64%   Iowa had 25 first downs to UNI’s 16.  There’s the ball game right there.

It does not matter how many turnovers you get if you do not do anything WITH the football.  The more third downs you get, the more clock you tick off, the longer your offense is on the field, the longer your defense has to recover, the more Iowa has to pass instead of run it down UNI’s throat.

6 > 3

UNI has to get touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.  When they beat ISU, they find pay dirt.  When they lose, they settle on booting one through the uprights.

In 2009 UNI once again, got ONE touchdown.  It was a passing play from Pat Grace to Ryan Mahaffey.  Once again, UNI could get close enough for field goals, but not the end zone.  That game DID give UNI the birth of Carlos Anderson – who had an impressive 75 yards but he never found pay dirt.

(unipanthers.com)

In 2012 UNI was 3-3 on field goals but only got ONE TD.  Proof that David Johnson will always get his but they need more than that to win this year.

Kollmorgen needs a passing TD.  Everyone knows it will be the David Johnson show but Iowa will be focused on stopping him.

There are plenty of targets for Sawyer to throw to, including David.  In fact David Johnson will need receiving yards for UNI to win.

He had 77 rushing and 77 receiving yards in 2012.  Getting out in space as a receiver will most likely be the only space he finds this Saturday.  He’s got the size, speed, hands, and athletic ability to be one of the better receivers on the field and make plays in open space.  UNI is loaded with their annual speedsters and track team members who need to break a big one.  Any cases of alligator arms on open passes will lead to another Kinnick defeat.

Special Teams

They have been anything but special in games against the Hawks.

There have been the back-to-back blocked field goals.   Billy Hallgren HAD been 3-3 before the final minute of the game.  He then went 0-2.

In 2006 UNI had Iowa State beat if they could make a field goal, but Brian Wingert missed and the Panthers lost 28-27.  The following year, UNI cashed in their Chizik coins and won 24-13.  UNI was 1-2 on field goals while the Cyclones missed their only attempt.  (Still do not understand how ISU struggles to find kickers?)

The return games will also have a huge impact.

Iowa Blocks a potential game winning FG (kcrg.com)

Iowa Blocks a potential game winning FG (kcrg.com)

Field position will be key in UNI scoring touchdowns instead of field goals.

Carlos Anderson and Johnny Gray are no longer on the team.  J’Veyon Browning is a red-shirt Freshman who was listed in the 2 deeps along with Deiondre’ Hall.  They need to not only lead the day in apostrophes but in yards as well.  A touchdown would be nice but just get the ball to the 30 or 40 yard line.  Easier said than done.  Brion Carnes has done this as well, but using your backup quarterback against a Big Ten team could be a mistake.

The Panthers will also have to stop the return game of the Hawks.  They limited Iowa to 62 yards in 2012, but that was only 2 kicks.  Hopefully they are kicking multiple times after scoring this year.

Punting could be a question mark with Kyle Bernard graduating and taking his boot with him.  Kyle was the model of consistency.  Logan Bieghler or Michael Kuntz will have to step up in a big way in a big spot against a Big Ten team.

Turnovers

UNI needs to get a fumble or interception to win the game.  They win the turnover battle and it shapes up nicely for the upset.

They coughed up 1 fumble in 2009 while collecting 2 from the Hawks.  In 2012, the Panthers threw one interception which was the only turnover for either team.  In 2009 there were no interceptions in the game.  Not surprising with Ferentz’s conservative offense.  But with Greg Davis now at the helm of the Hawkeye offense, they will be less vanilla then in years past.  Iowa has more athletic wide receivers that look to stretch the field a lot more than in years past.  This will lead to more opportunities for big plays by the Hawkeyes, but it should also open the door to more interception opportunities.

The defense also got zero sacks in 2012 but 4 sacks for 38 yards in 2009.   They need to get into the backfield and force some pressure and force a bad pass or get the straight sack.  The man in the middle, Xavier Williams will be key.  He has been rated higher than Johnson in some pro prospect reports.  X-man will live up to his moniker.

When the Panthers defense has been good, they have decisively won the turnover battle.  The defense has the speed and athletic ability to do so but will have to force Iowa to pass instead of run.  Historically there have been few turnovers but it will take a historical effort to win.

UNI runs onto the field at Kinnick (unipanthers.com)

UNI runs onto the field at Kinnick (unipanthers.com)

 Calling All Cats

Somebody besides David Johnson needs to make a statement.  They need to find the end zone.

Doubtful that the defense will get a pick six or a fumble recovery for a touchdown so it will be on the offense to put up points.

There is plenty of speed with Brett LeMaster, Chad Owens, Kevin Vereen Jr and Issac Lintz in the receiving corps.  Brion Carnes could line-up wide or in the wildcat formation.  Barkley Hill has to do something against his former team.  He needs to not only spell David Johnson but churn up some yards in the process. Evan Williams should see a few snaps.  Sam Rohr and Branden Lehman need to hit a few in or out patterns for first downs. Or even find the end zone like Ryan Mahaffey did in 2009.  They have the size to do it.

Brion Carnes will play according to head coach Mark Farley. He must be the dynamic and electrifying player that he can.  The Panthers need play-making from him.  And Sawyer needs to be the Sawyer Kollmorgen of the 2nd half of the Wisconsin game, not the Sawyer Kollmorgen of the first half.  He has the tools and the poise to do it, he just needs to put it all together.

 Every Dog Cat Has His Day

UNI has failed to score more than 20 points in this series in over a decade.

They have lost 15 in a row. Every one at Kinnick.

History is not on their side.  Scholarships are not on their side.  A number of Panther graduates are not on their side (for this game).

Nobody ever thought Appalachian State would come into the Big House and beat Michigan.   But they did.

Nobody thought UNI could knock of #1 Kansas, but they did.

Nobody thought the Cubs would win a World Series but…nevermind.

For years, there has been a feeling that UNI would finally take down the Hawkeyes.  They came close in 2009.  They should have won that game.  They should have beat Wisconsin.  But the woulda-coulda-shoulda is getting old.  Time to make that notion history.  Time to MAKE history.

UNI will come into Kinnick and win 24-20.  (Bonus prediction.  David Johnson has a passing TD to Brion Carnes)