I figured it was about time I chimed in on the most epic rivalry known to man. If you can't tell by the user name, I firmly sit on both sides of it. A Boiler fan for life (don't ask how that happens when I've lived in Iowa my whole life, because I don't know either) and a junior at the University of Iowa, this game probably affects me more than most. If you don't believe me, ask BoilerPaulie. I did my best impersonation of a chameleon at the basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye in March.
Pleasantries aside, it's time for a breakdown of what the Boilers can expect from the Hawkeyes on Saturday. Some of you may know this already, but Iowa isn't exactly up to their normal standards. The vaunted defense has been non-existent and the offense has been inconsistent from week to week. After the jump, I'll give you my 5 things to look for that will have the biggest impact on the game.
1. Run between the tackles
Now this isn't exactly a Purdue strong-suit, but Iowa is very porous up the middle. Broderick Binns actually does a good job of stringing plays out from the end position, but the middle of the line has been a rotating cast of players. Dominic Alvis was probably playing the best, until the ACL God reached out and ended his season. James Morris and Tyler Nielson have been nicked up in the linebacking core and Christian Kirksey makes Dwayne Beckford look big. Look for Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers to find plenty of room up the middle on run plays. Or you can look for us to ignore this completely.
2. Blitz James Vandenberg
The Iowa QB has done his best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression this year. At Kinnick, he's fine. On the road, he's atrocious. Vandenberg still struggles to pick up the blitz, so a couple of cleverly designed blitzes have the chance to force some bad throws and maybe set up a Rico Island pick 6. If Vandenberg starts off jumpy, Purdue can bust out to an early lead.
3. Safety help on Marvin McNutt AT ALL TIMES
I love Ricardo as much as the next guy, but Marvin McNutt is an awful matchup for him. Originally a quarterback, McNutt is now the best receiver in Iowa history if you look at the stats. He's had a tremendous year and his size gives him an advantage on every corner he plays. We need to shade a guy to his side at all times to keep him in check. McNutt will still get his, but safety help should limit his big plays.
4. Gang tackle Marcus Coker
You aren't going to stop Marcus Coker with one guy normally. Multiple guys need to meet Coker in the hole to minimize his gains. Kawaan Short should have a big game against the interior of the Iowa line and he'll be counted on to make some big stops. If Coker can be slowed, the game becomes that much easier.
5. Don't be afraid to take risks
Kirk Ferentz may be the least outside the box coach in college football. It's time that Danny Hope breaks out the wacky plays he always talks about to take advantage of this. A surprise onside kick, a reverse, the Wild Siller, or pretty much anything not conventional has a chance to succeed. Why not take advantage of it?
I'm sure T-Mill will have plenty more on this subject, but I felt like I should give my two cents on the issue. I hope to see you all at the blog summit Saturday and with that, I return to my role of Switzerland for the week.