5 key things for Iowa-Iowa State this weekend
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After a 43-year layoff, the CyHawk rivalry resumed in 1977 and it has remained an early September affair, save for 2001. It’s a Corn Belt version of Greasers (sort of Iowa State) against Socs (sort of Iowa). Iowa enjoys more overall success but Iowa State has bitten the Hawkeyes so often it’s rarely considered an upset.
They’ve had four different trophies with this game, including an incredulous corn family that was shelved and boxed with the Old Testament’s Ark of the Covenant back in 2011. The most recent version was voted upon by the fans, the only time the fan bases seemed to have agreed with each other.
Needless to say, it’s a big week for both teams. For the first time, this series gets a true night kickoff at Kinnick Stadium (7:30 p.m. EST. TV: BTN) and the atmosphere will range from electric to rowdy.
Here are five things to know about this week with Iowa facing Iowa State:
1. Crown Jewell
Iowa junior linebacker Josey Jewell was ejected following a brutal hit on Miami of Ohio’s Matt Merimee during the Hawkeyes’ first defensive series last week. Jewell said it was a “weird experience” to leave the field.
“It wasn’t intentional,” Jewell said. “I was going for a good, clean block and, unfortunately, my head got down there, my shoulder got down there to his face mask. I’ll learn from my experience and go on.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Jewell is an aggressive player but not a dirty player. Jewell was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last year and the unquestioned defensive leader.
“I don’t want to speak for everybody else, but looking at it, there was no malicious intent on that,” Ferentz said. “And a lot of these calls are going to be bang-bang calls, but this is 2016. It’s a point of emphasis.
“We’ve got to try to do a better job of educating our guys, what they have to be alert for, but it’s hard, too. You don’t want to defang a guy, too, that’s a pretty aggressive player. You want to be very careful about that.
“It’s just one of those things that happened, unfortunately. Everybody was healthy and we’re all able to move on.”
Without Jewell, Iowa’s run defense became suspect. The Hawkeyes gave up 158 yards on the ground and lost the time of possession battle, 36:21 to 23:39.
2. Greg Mabin’s bounce-back
Mabin, a three-year starting cornerback, struggled in the opener against Miami of Ohio. He gave up eight catches on 11 targets for 173 yards and two scores. Some of those plays just happen in a game (think basketball players scoring baskets). Nobody in college football plays like Deion Sanders. But twice Mabin got beat for big plays, gave up two touchdowns and he was replaced midway through the fourth quarter by true freshman Manny Rugamba.
“Looking back at the film, it’s not as bad as I thought it was,” Mabin said. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
Mabin gave up a 67-yard pass midway through the first quarter. He knows his mistake, which was he “tried to undercut it, tried to get greedy and it ended up burning me.” A 29-yard touchdown on a post-corner route was caused in part because he over-helped on a route in the flat and the receiver got behind him.
3. Downfield blocking
Iowa rattled off seven explosive plays consisting of at least 20 yards against Miami of Ohio. In all but two, downfield blocking by wide receivers had a major impact.
Sophomore Jerminic Smith battled a cornerback for 15 yards on a 43-yard gallop from running back LeShun Daniels, and Smith helped running back Akrum Wadley reach the end zone on an 11-yard scamper. Likewise, Riley McCarron’s block paced fellow receiver Matt VandeBerg to a 36-yard gain on a quick screen.
“I take blocking seriously because I know it’s going to spring my running backs open,” Smith said. “That’s where all the big plays happen, when receivers are blocking downfield.”
4. Full Nelson
Sophomore Matt Nelson and freshman Anthony Nelson both have a chance to start this week at defensive end since Parker Hesse is questionable with a hamstring strain. Anthony Nelson was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week after picking up 2.5 sacks, forcing two fumbles and knocking down a pass against Miami of Ohio. Iowa will need both players to compete at a high level to rush Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning through his reads on Saturday.
“I got a couple jokes like that, but it’s all fun,” said Anthony Nelson of teammates razzing him for his award.
5. Trophy hunting
Iowa lost all four trophy games in 2014, including a three-point decision to a 2-10 Iowa State squad. Last year, the Hawkeyes rallied to score two touchdowns in the final three minutes and beat the Cyclones, 31-17.
The CyHawk Trophy was the only one not on display in the performance center. It was moved to the weight room to provide motivation through workouts. Iowa’s other trophy games include Wisconsin (Heartland), Nebraska (Heroes) and Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale).