Five questions with Iowa football reporter Andrew Logue
1. Do you think losing potential playmakers like Derrick Willies will lead to throwing the ball downfield more, for fear of losing more guys?
You can't base an offensive approach on what players "might" do. Coaches have to stand firm in their philosophy. The problem is, I'm not sure if the Hawkeyes' have a philosophy. And for the record, leaving doesn't make Willies a bad guy. But I do think departing in the middle of a season reflect priorities. If this was simply a matter of being with an ailing family member, he could have asked for a leave of absence. To just quit abruptly sort of shows his teammates were kind of down the pecking order.
2. OK, Andrew, I'll put you on the spot. Gut feeling: Is Greg Davis back as offensive coordinator next year?
No, unless the offense hits on all cylinders the next five weeks. I'm not sure wins and losses will tell the whole story in regards to Davis, because escaping with a couple of 13-10 victories won't be enough for a fan base expecting more from a unit that returned eight starters. They Hawkeyes were 8-4 last season. The only way they'll do better this fall is by putting more points on the board.
3. Is coach Kirk Ferentz the reason Jake Rudock won't throw the ball down field? Sometimes, a quarterback has to take shots deep when you get one-on-one coverage and let your receivers make plays.
Ball security is a priority, so in that sense the quarterbacks have been programed to be selective. However, I don't see the receivers creating a lot of separation. And I don't see the second coming of Michael Irvin or Randy Moss, so I don't know if just chucking is down field is the answer.
4. Has Ferentz lost this team? What is your score prediction Saturday?
No, because you have guys like Mark Weisman, Jake Rudock and Brandon Scherff on this team. Remember, Willies is talented, but he was a freshman role player. As far as Saturday's game against Northwestern: I say the Hawkeyes win 24-14. The Wildcats are always pesky, but Ferentz will have the team re-focused after a poor effort and Maryland and all the off-field distractions.
5. I stopped watching games on television this year as I've found better uses of my time. Thank you, Kirk for your offensive philosophy.
Ok, that wasn't really a question. But there have been times as a fan that I've taken a similar approach (even though I enjoy listening to Len Dawson).
BIG TEN BUZZ
Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah has now scored a rushing touchdown in 10 consecutive games, the longest active FBS streak…Illinois defeated Minnesota last week, 28-24, giving Illinois coach Tim Beckman his second Big Ten victory in his third season at the school. The loss denied Minnesota its first 4-0 start in Big Ten play since 1967…Wisconsin's defense received a boost in last week's 52-7 drubbing of Maryland, getting nose guard Warren Herring and linebacker Marcus Trotter back from injury…Michigan State has now defeated Michigan six of the last seven times they've met, only the second time that has ever happened in a series that started in 1898. The Wolverines' only touchdown of the game, with 3 minutes 40 seconds remaining, was its first against the Spartans in 186:08 of game action…After a 31-24 double overtime loss to Ohio State Saturday, Penn State is now 3-4 in their seven "White Out" games. That includes a 21-10 loss to Iowa in 2009.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON …
Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) at Rutgers (5-3, 1-3), 11 a.m., ESPN. The Badgers should take care of business in this one. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in rushing offense at 338.4 yards a game, using a physical line to create space for standout running back Melvin Gordon. He is averaging 166.9 yards a game. Rutgers is 12th in rush defense, at 178.2 yards a game. That's not a statistical marriage made in heaven for the Scarlet Knights. The winner of this game becomes bowl eligible. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova will have to be super for his team to pull off the upset.