IOWA CITY, Iowa — Any good golfer will tell you the front nine gives you confidence and the back nine gives you character. In college football terms, it’s wonderful to start strong but finishing the right way is vital in establishing a successful season.
Halfway through their season, the Iowa Hawkeyes are 4-2 overall, clearly not matching their own or their fans’ high expectations. But the season’s second half is where Iowa can leave a lasting impression.
The Hawkeyes (4-2, 2-1) make the turn this week at Purdue (3-2, 1-1) at 11 a.m. CT (ESPN2). Iowa then faces border rival Wisconsin at 11 a.m. Oct. 22 before taking a week off.
Kicking off Purdue week, here are four topics associated with the Hawkeyes:
Moving the line
Iowa juggled its offensive line last Saturday at Minnesota, and those changes now are permanent on Monday’s depth chart. Boone Myers switched to left tackle from left guard, while Cole Croston flipped to right tackle from left tackle. Ike Boettger then moved inside to left guard from right tackle.
The moves seemed to benefit the Hawkeyes. Their sack total dropped from six to one. Running backs Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels combined for 173 rushing yards, up from 107 the previous week.
It wasn’t an outlandish offensive line shift. Myers started 10 games at left tackle last year. Croston opened six games at right tackle. Both played those positions last year against Minnesota. Boettger’s move was more unconventional with 11 career starts at right tackle. But they all worked, at least for one week.
“Just thought maybe it would be worth taking a shot at and see if Cole looked more comfortable on the right side,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Boone slid out and did a good job, and I want to give Ike a lot of credit for going to the guard position. I feel like he competed really well out there.”
The only other depth chart change included a side flip at backup cornerback. Freshman Manny Rugamba, who works as the team’s nickel back, now officially backs up left cornerback Greg Mabin. Sophomores Josh Jackson and Michael Ojemudia now fall in behind right cornerback Desmond King. Jackson is the team’s dime back when the Hawkeyes go six-deep.
TV crews adjust
Iowa will appear on ESPN2 for the fourth time in the last five weeks this week at Purdue. Usually in the 11 a.m. CT window, the ESPN2 crew includes Beth Mowins for play-by-play, Anthony Becht on color and Rocky Boiman for sideline analysis. That trio has called Iowa’s games against North Dakota State, Rutgers and Minnesota.
For variety’s sake, I guess, ESPN2 called an audible this week. This week’s crew is Anish Shroff (play-by-play), Tom Ramsey (color) and Kevin Weidl (sideline). It’s probably for the best for the announcers and the fans.
Yet another morning kickoff … zzzzzzz
Iowa and Wisconsin will kick off at 11 a.m. CT on Oct. 22. Either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 will air the 90th edition of the border rivalry. It will be the sixth consecutive 11 a.m. kickoff for the Hawkeyes, which is almost astounding.
Iowa will open November with night games at Penn State (Nov. 5) and against Michigan (Nov. 12), so there is a little variety on the way.
Let’s hope when the Big Ten’s next media rights package is announced, well, any day now, it includes new viewing windows, like 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. CT. These morning games tax fans who travel and dull the atmosphere. It keeps some fans away altogether. That’s neither healthy nor practical.
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