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College Football Week 1 Analysis: Iowa Hawkeyes

1. Who impressed you the most with their Week 1 performance?

No question, Adam Robinson. He was basically the last man standing at RB after Brandon Wegher left the team and Jewel Hampton sat out to serve a one-game suspension, but he came through in a big way: 109 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries. He's not the prettiest runner to watch, or the most explosive, but his tenacity on Saturday was remarkable. He's a very hard runner and one who seems to run even harder after initial contact -- he literally dragged Eastern Illinois defenders into the endzone on one of his scoring runs and there were multiple runs where he gained extra yards by refusing to go down easily. He was solid a year ago, but kind of quiet and much of the off-season hype has centered on Hampton; Robinson reminded everyone on Saturday that he'll be a valuable member of the RB corps this year, too.

2. Based on their Week 1 performance, what area(s) does the team need to improve on the most?

It's hard to complain too much about a 30-point win in which the only score was set up a fake punt that the other team attempted from their own 20-yard line -- you aren't going to see that happen too often. Still, if there was one mildly concerning issue it would probably be the pass coverage. It was good for the most part, but new starting corner Micah Hyde was at fault (either entirely or partially) for two big pass plays on EIU's lone scoring drive, so he'll want to try and clean that up. The defense also didn't force any turnovers and you'd kind of expect a defense of this caliber to force a few against a I-AA team. But their track record on that front is so strong that it's certainly not something to worry about just yet.

3. Which back-up or newcomer earned more playing time with their performance in last weeks game?

Probably Brad Herman, the second-string tight end. He was likely to get quite a bit of playing time anyway, considering Iowa's love of two-tight end sets, but there had been some talk that a highly-touted freshman at his position (C.J. Fiedorowicz) could eat into his playing time this year. Herman's day (3 catches, 57 yards) definitely earned him the benefit of the doubt going forward and should keep him in the mix as one of the top two tight ends on the team.

4. What are the major question marks that still surround the team headed into Week 2?

Before the season the offensive line was identified as the major point of concern in determining the team's success this year -- and that's still the case after week one. They weren't bad in week one -- they opened up holes for Robinson and kept Ricky Stanzi upright most of the game (only 1-2 sacks, mostly off missed blitz pickups) -- but the caliber of defense they face going forward is going to be much better than EIU so continued progress is a must.

5. Are you more or less confident in your teams ultimate success this year after Week 1?

A little bit more confident. There's only so much you can (or should) take from a win over a team like EIU, but beating them by 30 is infinitely preferable to beating them by one point after getting a pair of blocked field goals (been there, done that). The offensive line blocked well, Stanzi avoided mistakes, Robinson was good, the defense largely shut down EIU's offense, and the special teams were very good. There's really not much to complain about from that game. Maybe the turnovers -- there was a fumbled snap right outside the EIU endzone and another fumble immediately after a catch. It would be nice to cut down on mistakes like that. Beyond that, this was the sort of easy, comfortable win you want when you open the season with a team like EIU.

6. What needs to happen in order to secure a victory in Week 2?

Iowa State's a far more difficult opponent than Eastern Illinois, particularly because they typically approach the game with an immense amount of emotion and focus. Matching that emotion and focus is something that past Iowa teams have failed to do, which has cost them wins even when they were the ostensibly more talented team. Beyond that, they need to avoid turnovers, especially ones that cost them easy points or set up ISU for easy scores of their own. They also need to establish a solid running game; Iowa State's defense looks weakest up front, so dominating that area of the field will be instrumental in making it easier on Stanzi to avoid pressing things in the passing game and making (potentially costly) mistakes. They need to get more big plays out of the receivers in this game, too; the passing offense largely focused on the tight ends and check-downs to the running backs (in all, 13 of the 21 completions on Saturday went to tight ends or running backs) and that sort of conservatism is fine against EIU, but with receivers as talented and explosive as Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, they really need to make use of them more, especially against a defense that's not as easy to exploit with soft, ultra-conservating passing.


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