Leistikow's DVR Monday: On Jewell's amazing play, Cy-Hawk observations
IOWA CITY – The second (ever) installment of DVR Monday is going to include a lot of positives. How could it not after Iowa’s 42-3 demolition of in-state rival Iowa State?
The 11th-ranked Hawkeyes (yeah, they dropped one spot in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll after a 39-point win over a Power Five program, but that’s another story) looked as good as they have in a long time Saturday night. Even during last year’s 12-0 run, Iowa might not have played a more complete game than this.
Once again, this weekly installment aims to inform, entertain and – after a scrutinized look at the TV broadcast, combined with player/coach feedback – give you something you’re not reading anywhere else.
Jewell of the Nile
Kinnick Stadium was different Saturday. That’s because No. 43 was one of the 11 regulars on the Hawkeye defense.
A few weeks ago, I ranked Josey Jewell the No. 3 guy the Hawkeyes can’t afford to lose. He’s up to No. 2 on my list now (behind you-know-who), after seeing the middle linebacker’s first full game as a junior.
There was no better play to illustrate Jewell's impact than the second-and-5, first-quarter screen to Allen Lazard. Joel Lanning’s pass hit Lazard at Iowa’s 38-yard line near the right sideline, and Jewell was in coverage, at the 32 on the opposite hash mark.
Relentless, Jewell took off on a determined sprint and dove to disrupt Lazard’s jaunt to the end zone, tripping him up with an ankle tackle at Iowa’s 7: A two-star linebacker making up ground against a high four-star receiver.
Jewell saved a touchdown; Iowa State settled for a field goal. Those were the only points the Cyclones would score in four quarters.
Does Jewell make a difference? Watch him pre-snap: It seems like he knows exactly what play is coming.
Jewell has essentially played three quarters this season (he played only one series in the opener against Miami of Ohio because of a targeting-penalty ejection); Iowa hasn't allowed a TD when he's in there.
Jewell's relentless motor was one of the only silver linings that emerged during the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl.
“The game was pretty much out of question, second half,” coach Kirk Ferentz said in an understatement. “Just the effort, tenacity that (Jewell) played with in that game, those are things that just indicate, 'Hey, this guy's for real.'"
And probably irreplaceable.
Akrum Wadley is no longer a fourth-string secret.
The ankle-breaking cutbacks of the junior from Newark, N.J., have made Hawkeye fans (and maybe tough-love coaches) almost forget that he’s the guy that fumbled four times in his first 36 career carries. In the 106 since? Zippo.
On a 3-yard touchdown run against Iowa State that put the Hawkeyes ahead 35-3, Wadley did his thing, and so did Iowa’s offensive line. A stretch run play to the left, Wadley planted his left ankle and turned upfield, untouched, for six points. The goal-to-go play was a blocking clinic. Fullback Brady Ross sealed off his man; Cole Croston, Boone Myers and Lucas LeGrand bulldozed the left side; right guard Keegan Render took his guy out, too; and Ike Boettger shoulder-checked Evrett Edwards well into the end zone.
“Akrum Wadley, he’s a game-changer,” analyst Matt Millen said during the BTN broadcast. “There are only a few of them in college football. He’s one of them.”
Millen also compared Wadley to Barry Sanders. Not bad. Through two games, Wadley is averaging 8.7 yards on his 25 touches.
5-second hang time
This grad-transfer experiment at punter sure has panned out.
Ron Coluzzi may not end the season with eye-popping stats, but the numbers inside the numbers are impressive. Iowa is the only team in the Big Ten Conference that hasn’t allowed a single yard on punt returns.
One of the reasons? Coluzzi’s hang time and versatility. He punted four times against Iowa State. Two of them were from near midfield, and he pinned Iowa State at its own 14 and 9 yard lines (the second on a rugby-style punt). The other two were boomers out of Hawkeye territory – a 45-yarder with hang time of 5 seconds and a 48-yarder with 5.1.
Those are pro-level punts. Last year’s NFL leader in hang time, according to Pro Football Focus, was Atlanta’s Matt Bosher at 4.8 seconds.
The Coluzzi impact? A difference of nearly seven yards of field position with every boot. Iowa is ranked 22nd nationally in net punting at 42.5 yards per attempt. A year ago, the Hawkeyes ended the year ranked 96th at 35.85 yards.
You’ve also noticed Coluzzi’s 80-percent touchback rate (12 of 15) on kickoffs. But one area you haven’t been watching? He’s a fantastic holder on placements, something former Hawkeye kicker Nate Kaeding told me last month. Next chance you get, watch how efficient he is in receiving and placing long snaps from Tyler Kluver.
With Coluzzi holding, freshman placekicker Keith Duncan hasn’t missed (12-for-12 PATs, 1-for-1 field goals).
Mitchell tendency still blatant
Junior running back Derrick Mitchell Jr. enjoyed an increased role Saturday, in part because Wadley was nursing a minor knee injury.
Last year’s third-down back barely played against Miami of Ohio, but he was on the field for 14 non-special teams snaps vs. Iowa State. Only one was a running play, when C.J. Beathard gained 1 yard on a quarterback draw with Mitchell lined up as a wide receiver.
That percentage will always be high when you’re primarily a third-down back, but five of Mitchell’s snaps against the Cyclones were non-third downs, too. (He was targeted three times and gained seven yards on two receptions.)
At some point, Iowa needs to hand the ball to Mitchell -- and he’s proven effective, averaging 6.4 yards on 27 career carries. The tendency to pass when Mitchell is on the field remains a tell for opponents, as it was last season.
Defensive reserves got to play for 20 snaps Saturday -- a much-needed breather for Iowa’s starters. Workload is a category to keep monitoring as the season rolls on, considering the Hawkeyes admitted to wearing down in 2015.
Some backups that impressed:
Aaron Mends showed explosion and closing speed at linebacker, stuffing Kene Nwangwu for a 1-yard gain, and was effective in pass coverage. Mends also blitzed once to hurry a Jacob Park throw. The redshirt sophomore lost his starting job to Bo Bower during fall camp.
Walk-on Sam Brincks seems to be getting comfortable at defensive end, where Iowa needs depth. He batted down a third-down pass to end an Iowa State drive.
Third-team defensive tackle Garret Jansen, a redshirt freshman from Pella, has more growing to do (listed at 6-foot-2, 270 pounds) but showed a high motor with three tackles.
True freshmen Cedrick Lattimore (the No. 4 defensive tackle) and Manny Rugamba (maybe the No. 3 cornerback behind Desmond King and Greg Mabin) got extended looks; it's clear they've got a lot to learn, but both could be in line for starting jobs in 2017.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 22 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.