Ryan Walters, in preparing for Iowa, appears to very much understand the assignment. The Hawkeyes have, shall we say, a distinct-but-unoffensive approach to winning football games. As Walters pointed out, it’s more or less worked out for them since 1999.
The game plan does change given the injury to Iowa’s starting quarterback, Michigan transfer Cade McNamara, who will be replaced by Wisconsin transfer Deacon Hill following the announcement that McNamara is expected to miss the rest of the season. Best of luck to McNamara.
Traditionally they still want to run the ball first. They play with multiple tight ends, heavy sets. The backup [quarterback] is a big guy, he’s got a big arm…not as mobile as the starter, so we’ll take that into consideration on the way we game plan, but they still have the same personnel around them. So we’ve got to hold up in the running game, hold up on the line of scrimmage, and be creative with the way we cover tight ends.
The Boilermakers dealing with injuries themselves, Walters stated that while he is still waiting on additional information regarding the injury to tight end Max Klare, linebacker OC Brothers should be back (while giving praise to the performance of Yanni Karlaftis).
He should be available this week. I was really happy with the way Yanni played. Yanni played better than that position has been played up to this point.
Walters had mentioned in previous weeks that the offensive coaching staff was piecing together what types of schemes his offense could best execute regularly. The new staff was gauging the skillsets, settling on who the most reliable play makers are, all that jazz.
The return of Gus Hartwig has certainly helped maintain some offensive consistency and more of an interior run game threat that compliments the running styles and vision owned by tailbacks Tyrone Tracy, Devin Mockobee, and Dylan Downing. We saw each of the backs score on Saturday.
When it comes to how the offense clicked against Illinois, he praised offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and his side of the staff for figuring out where to exploit matchups with such a talented group of skill position players.
When we’re playing with balance, it allows us to play with pace, which allows us to be aggressive, which opens up every aspect of the offense. We were running the ball so we were able to push it down the field. We were throwing for quick gains to open up running lanes.
There are naturally going to be concerns that an offense just starting to find its identity will face a team that can beat you just with a slew of clock-churning drives that result in field goals.
They’re going to play really, really sound defense and not make mistakes, make you earn it. Special teams is going to be a weapon for them. And then they’re going to manage the game on offense…they’re going to try to control the clock, and if they can win a game 9-6, that’s the style of play that they like.
How do you reconcile your newfound offensive success against a team with, as Walters said “a winning formula” no matter if it’s deemed to be a somewhat unconventional strategy in modern college football?
We’ll have to do a good job of not letting them dictate the pace, dictate the tempo, dictate the style of play…do everything we can to play our style of ball and make them adjust to it.
Iowa (4-1) will host Purdue (2-3) on Saturday, October 7 at 3:30 Eastern. Walters looks to build on some offensive momentum in his first road conference game as head coach.