The Mike

The H-T IU football reporting gang of Korman, photographer Chris Howell and Wilson are on our way to Iowa in the new H-T-mobile, a Toyota Sienna. Just three moms in our minivan on our way to the game.

Actually, I love the new ride. Lots of room for Howell’s 700 pounds of gear and Korman’s 700-pound ego (he’s right this minute talking about upgrading to better hotels than me on future road trips because he’s an important columnist).

To start a discussion, hopefully, about tomorrow’s game, I’m posting a game preview that the famous Mike P. provided during our Q&A yesterday. Here’s the Mike

This game could go one of two ways against this Iowa team. If the team that showed up for Indiana State or the first half of Western Michigan makes the trip to Iowa, this could turn out to be a good ball game.

Iowa is a very balanced team on offense. They average 135.5 yards per game rushing, and 177.5 yards per game passing. This IU team has got to tighten up with their corners and take away the passing lane for Jake Christensen and make him scramble, he has already been sacked 11 times this year, and IU could really add to their 18 sacks they already have. If IU continues to play that soft zone, Christensen will pick them apart underneath.

The d-line has also got to close the gaps in the line. They cannot allow a running back to go up the middle, and the first contact he gets is from a linebacker or safety playing zone pass defense. The 5.8 yards per carry they gave up against Illinois has got to come back to life and be lower than the 3.1 yards per carry they average on the year, and more like the 1.8 they averaged before Illinois.

The coaching has got to be more daring on defense. If you’re going to play a zone set with the corners and safeties, there needs to be more blitz packages thrown at them. If you’re going to get beat, get beat big. A middle or corner blitz coming in on the weak side could create issues for Iowa. Tracy Porter has got to play like he did against Illinois and not like he did against Akron.

Again, the offense is all about the line and Kellen Lewis. While Lewis did get smacked around in the pocket some, I am not putting the entire blame on the line. If it is a pass play, the line has got to give Lewis a chance to get at least to his 3rd choice, which means they have to give him time to look at Hardy, Bailey, and Means and then time to escape if those guys are covered.

If Lewis breaks the pocket, his first look should be to his check down, use the pump fake and see if the linebackers bite. If they bite, he has got to turn it up field with his legs and take what they give him. The running back position this week could be major. Marcus Thigpen should not start with many carries. Bryan Payton and Sears should get the nod to hammer the ball up the middle, with Thigpen as a decoy. As they start to key up on Payton and Sears, then give the ball to Thigpen off tackle and let him use his speed.

The receivers have got to create opportunities for Lewis to get them the ball, and we need to call more plays that or 4-7 yard out routes and hooks. Hardy is going to have to muscle up, and actually block someone this week, and be ready to get smacked over the middle. The last thing the offense has got to do is protect the ball. 3 fumbles will lose this ball game, and it will not even be close.


  1. OK, here’s my take on this game. After letting Illinois run for 288 yards, this is a bellweather test for the Hoosier defense.

    Iowa is a below average Big Ten offense – with a first-year QB and their top two receivers injured. If Indiana can hold the Hawkeyes to about 21 points or fewer, that’s a sign of progress over the past couple of seasons. But if Iowa is putting together long drives with 5+ yards per rush and uncovered receivers, this will be another year when the Hoosiers don’t have a good enough defense to improve much as a team. .

  2. Nice analysis, everyone involved.
    Now just try not to give Karl Malone his own blog topic, or else I’d have to retire from the ‘Scoop.

  3. Kellen needs to be more decisive and use his legs to be as dangerous to Iowa as possible. He is hung up on the fact that he is not a traditional pocket passer. He needs to realize that his running ability is a great asset and makes him better than an average pocket QB. Against Illinois he hesitated to get out of the pocket too often and contributed some of those sacks on his own. Other times he would get out of the pocket okay and bootleg toward a sideling, but he would still hesitate to turn upfield instead of waiting for a receiver to get open. That intentional grounding call was the worst example of his indecision and reluctance to run. He may be second only to Pat White in the ability to run from the QB position, and he needs to realize his ability and do damage with his legs.

    Iowa State QB Bret Meyer did quite a bit of damage with his legs in a win over Iowa earlier. He rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries and was never sacked. Hopefully, Lewis can do something similar and keep the Iowa defense off balance. The chance of IU winning is completely dependent on the kind of day Lewis has more than any other aspect.

  4. Well, great. Refer to him as famous.
    Actually, Mike P knows a great deal about football, and the IU program specifically. He and I trade thoughts on sports, have for years. His was a good overall analysis, and today showed that this team is still a force to be reckoned with! Way to go Hoosiers!

  5. Doug,

    I have got a lot of emails and phone calls from this. I have heard many times it should be “The Mike P. IU Review” instead. Also, I have head overwhelmingly that it should have been “the infamous Mike P.” instead of “the famous Mike P.”

    Mike P.

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