Saturday, January 06, 2007

Remember the Alamo

OK, I'm least, sort of. My internet is still down, so I'll be publishing whenever I can find free wi-fi. I've missed a lot (Boomer Sooner/Boise, Big Ten domination of the SEC...again, Ross Verba's check cashing scheme, the possible rejuvination of Iowa hoops, the USC song girl commando scandal), but I figure I had better start with the Alamo Bowl.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Iowa performance in San Antonio. Remember, this was a game with the defending national champion and preseason #2, who was in the hunt for the BCS title game until the last two weeks of the season, in their own backyard. Keeping it within the spread was pretty good (after all, Iowa was an atrocious 1-10 ATS during the regular season). Getting the ball back at midfield with 3 minutes to go and a chance to win was great. Nevertheless, this game wasn't without its share of faults:
  • For the entire first quarter, the commentators were waxing poetic over Coach Kirk's involvement in practice these past few weeks. In the days leading up to the game, the players were constantly discussing the hard work they were putting into preparation for the Alamo. And that's great, but why did it wait until now? Shouldn't Ferentz have been more hands-on after two straight October losses to Hoosier Daddy and Big Blue? What about after the Northwestern loss, when Wiskey was on the way? It was good to see Captain Kirk show up (and bring his team along with him), but it was about 2 months too late.
  • On UT's first offensive possession, we were told that the Iowa defense blitzed 13% of the time, by far the lowest number the Texas coordinator had ever seen. To tell you the truth, I was surprised it was that high. But, with their newfound sense of preparation, Iowa comes out and repeatedly blitzes in the first quarter. The result was a quick start on both sides of the ball and a lead at the half. When we returned to our typical conservative (read: idiotic) defense, UT rolled up the points. Tell me again why we should keep Norm Parker.
  • Speaking of inexplicable playcalling, the O'Keefe end around (it is NOT a reverse) option pass from the 48 was quite possibly the dumbest call in the history of Iowa football (the only other available choices are the corner blitz on the last play of the first half of 2000 Iowa/Nebraska - which led to a 40-yard touchdown pass and a second-half whooping - and any play involving Ronnie Harmon in the 1986 Rose Bowl). This team used the most conservative offensive calls in the past decade throughout the regular season, then turns into Boise when the conservative call is finally the correct call? Kenny Boy has to go, as well.
  • Drew Tate was, in the end, a complete enigma. I don't think we'll ever know how the injuries were bothering him. I don't think we'll ever know what kind of effect (positive or negative) he was having on his teammates. I don't think we'll ever know the depth of his shortcomings, which were exploited by so many Big Ten teams this season. But Drew won't be remembered for the past two seasons, or the quiet revolt by his teammates, or the bad thumb and rib injuries. He'll be remembered for Tate to Holloway. And, trust me, there are worse things to be remembered for.
And so, the end is here. It was a disappointing season, to be sure. It was a season so difficult on the fans that it surely turned some off. But the highs were as high as any in recent memory. The Iowa State win, and the cheers of "Hawkeye State" (trademark pending) were satisfying on a level rarely seen. And when I think of gameday in Iowa City, I think of Iowa/Ohio State, where the stadium has never been louder or more rabid. It was one of the most exciting games I've ever witnessed, despite the loss. We probably should have known sooner; the warning signs were visible against Montana, and Syracuse and Illinois were absolutely too close for comfort. But, despite the struggles and disappointment, it was an interesting year in Iowa football. Let's just hope next year is a little better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any comment on, dare I say, "Late blooming" Andy Brodell? Could one dare expect production in '07?