5 questions with Iowa columnist Rick Brown

Rick Brown

1. If a team wants to take away the run, they can do it. Then the offense has to be able to pass. (Jake) Rudock did a good job of that (against Ball State). What will ISU dictate this Saturday?

I think Iowa State will try to blitz more than it has this season, especially with newbie Ike Boettger at left tackle. He'll have to grow up in a hurry. But I sure like his upside. He's evolved from a tight end to a tackle in a hurry. I look for Ike to be a tremendous lineman for the Hawkeyes.

2. Do you think the defense improved from Week 1 to Week 2?

Yes. But this week will be a real test with Jarvis West's speed and Sam Richardson's ability to run or pass. We'll see if the communication between the LBs and DBs has improved. Ball State's passing game wasn't a good test. Iowa State's success through the air will likely determine the winner.

3. What do you think about the noise from the ISU sportswriter at the Des Moines Register (Randy Peterson) about dropping the Iowa State-Iowa series? Seems like they are finally getting on board with Iowa fans.

If they want to drop the game, fine with me. The week and game have taken a snarky twist that personally, I don't care for.

4. I've been really surprised so far with how much negative stuff has been thrown Jake's way in the first two games. I understand the checkdowns get old pretty fast, but Jake has been terrific in my opinion. What are your thoughts?

I'm all in with Rudock. How can you get on a guy who has thrown 93 passes without a pick? Granted, he's not going deep very often. And there are some deep routes there. He's managed the offense quite well. The offensive line will execute better this week — at least it better — and that should improve the running game. Crazy to see him throw 55 times Saturday. Ferentz admitted if he keeps throwing that much, Iowa won't be winning many games.

5. What are the chances Derrick Willies gets targeted more in coming weeks? He's come up big in several opportunities they've thrown his way.

Well, as Ferentz said Tuesday, there's a pretty good receiver named Tevaun Smith ahead of him. Willies will get more action, though, as his complete game evolves. In other words, running tighter routes, getting separation and making a block when required. Another guy with a bright future.


With one more victory, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will move into the Big Ten's top 10 for overall wins at a conference school. Ferentz has 110 heading into Saturday's game with Iowa State. Former Ohio State coach (and Cyclone player) John Cooper is currently 10th with 111 victories. … An Ohio Stadium-record 107,517 attended the 2014 opener last week to see the Buckeyes lose to Virginia Tech 35-21. It marked the first time Ohio State has lost a home opener since a 19-0 defeat at the hands of Penn State in 1978. Woody Hayes was the Buckeyes' coach and freshman Art Schlichter the starting quarterback. … Maryland's Stefon Diggs, expected to be one of the Big Ten's top receivers, is also third nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 41.3 yards. … Notre Dame's 31-0 victory over Michigan was the first time the Wolverines had been shut out since a 26-0 loss at Iowa in 1984.



Welcome to conference football, Rutgers style. The Scarlet Knights host Penn State in their inaugural Big Ten game (7 p.m., Big Ten Network). Both teams are 2-0 heading into this game at High Points Solution Stadium (say that real fast five times in a row) in Piscataway, N.J. This is an East Division game that could well be decided by Christian Hackenberg's arm. He's thrown for 773 yards and four touchdowns for Penn State. His top targets have been DaeSean Hamilton (18 catches, 234 yards) and Eugene Lewis (14 catches, 271 yards). Now that Penn State is bowl eligible again, a victory gets the Lions halfway to postseason play.