Here’s a shock, Iowa’s O-line is much bigger than Pitt’s D-line.
On paper, that battle looks like a mismatch, as Iowa’s starting offensive line averages 6 feet 5, 296 pounds. That means the Panthers’ defensive front is giving away a little more than 2 inches and 21 pounds per man.
The Hawkeyes’ line is anchored by tackles, Kyle Calloway (6-7, 305) and Bryan Bulaga (6-6, 290) and also features 6-foot-5, 305-pound guard Seth Olsen.
By contrast, Pitt’s two defensive ends are Greg Romeus (6-5, 265) and Jabaal Sheard (6-4, 250), and the Panthers’ biggest defensive tackle is Rashaad Duncan (6-2, 295).
This issue isn’t as big a deal to me. I’ve been disappointed with the play of the defense and defensive line in the first couple of games, but it seemed to me that the biggest issue had to do with the schemes played by the defense without any adjustments to the style of offense. This offense of Iowa’s is exactly what Wannstedt wants to face and actually knows how to deal. They want to run the ball, they throw a little — and not too deep — they play for field position and controlling the clock.
As I said, yesterday, they are a lot more like Michigan State from last year. Heck, right down to the questionable QB play. They are playing two, because both have had stretches of complete suckitude.
Ricky Stanzi and Jake Christensen appear as co-No. 1s for Saturdayâ€™s 11 a.m. game at Pittsburgh, according to the depth chart.
Christensen entered last Saturdayâ€™s game against Iowa State on the final play of the third quarter, then led the Hawkeyes on a scoring drive that broke a 3-3 score in a game won by Iowa 17-5.
Stanzi started, but completed five of 14 passes for 95 yards. Coach Kirk Ferentz pulled him after throwing an interception into triple coverage.
â€œIt was the right move,â€ Stanzi said after the game. â€œI wasnâ€™t getting anything done. When youâ€™re not jelling with the offense, changes need to be made.â€
Christensen, whose string of 13 starts ended when Stanzi opened against Florida International on Sept. 6, completed 4 of 5 passes for 27 yards, but led the team better.
Christensen has completed 21 of 32 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Stanzi is 22-of-38 for 347 yards and three touchdowns.
Three games and they average under 200 total passing yards per game.
Whether this is damning or not, Paul Zeise seems to be of the same opinion.
Q: Knowing what we know about the coach being conservative and his unwillingness to change, can Pitt win this game — assuming Iowa doesn’t give it to us with kick returns or turnovers and defensive TD’s — without challenging Iowa’s safeties on offense with the passing game?
ZEISE: I would say of all the games on the schedule this is one that the Panthers could actually try to play old-school football and win 7-3. Why? Simple, because that’s the kind of football Iowa will try to play and Kirk Ferentz is similar to Wannstedt in his football philosophy. The Hawkeyes are likely to play it close to the vest as well, so this could turn into the ultimate muck and grind game, which I am sure will do wonders for the television ratings
What makes me nervous about the Michigan State comparisons, was that Wannstedt also made them.
On playing a team with a big offensive line:
“I relate this team a lot to the Michigan State team we played a year ago. I think our conditioning is better and I think we’re stronger. We’re not going to be physically pound-for-pound as big as these teams but I think our quickness and the strength of our players will show up. They’re physical, strong and tough but I don’t see it as a mismatch like I would have maybe two years ago.”
On the bright side (sort of) is that at least Wannstedt won’t have to worry about changing his game plan (not that he would).
On teams trying to stack up against Pitt’s running game:
“I think it depends on how confident each team is at executing its base defense. Iowa is good enough with their front-seven to line up and get the job done so I think we’ll see a little run defense but it will certainly vary from week to week.”
On the importance of defense and special teams:
“I’ve always told our players that two things that jump out are turnovers and turnovers off the kicking game. I’ve always believed that the first three or four games of a season are often decided by the kicking game.”
Yes, why would anyone think Iowa would stack against the run and dare Pitt to pass? That’s just silly talk, so why plan for it?
As for the latter. What? It’s all just turnovers this season for Wannstedt. Will that be his answer for everything?Â Coach, what do you think was the problem with the defense today? “Well, we just didn’t create enough turnovers.” Coach, how come the offense struggled today? “Well, that turnover came at a crucial time and really changed everything we wanted to do.” Coach, what was the problem with the coverage on special teams? “We just didn’t do a good job on stripping the ball and creating turnovers.” Why did you not play Baldwin today? “Turnovers.” Why did Fields only see one series? “Turnovers.” Coach, what about –? “Turnovers.” Coach, could you — “Turnovers.” But — “Turnovers.” Um… “Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.