I watched both the Iowa State and Iowa games last week. It can be hard to get a good read on a team during the first week of play, especially when they are play inferior opponents, but I did get a general feel for both teams' strengths and weaknesses. Iowa should have an advantage in just about every facet of the game, but here are the 3 thing I think Iowa will be able to exploit tomorrow.
1. Hang Time
Cyclones: Iowa State's latest depth chart [pdf] has a big "OR" listed between its two punters, last week's starter Daniel Kuehl and true freshman Kirby Van Der Camp. Kuehl had one punt against Northern Illinois that went just 18 yards. Van Der Camp reportedly has a stronger leg and averaged 40.5 yards per punt in his senior year of high school. However, he is still a freshman that would be playing in his first game...on the road...against a top 10 team...that is ISU's biggest rival. That is not an ideal situation.
Hawkeyes: Iowa has Ryan Donahue who also had just one punt last week, but his was a beautiful hanging kick that traveled 42 yards before it was caught and downed inside the 5 yard line by Micah Hyde. Donahue has a proven track record too. He averaged nearly 41 yards a punt last year and had 27 of his 61 punts downed inside the 20.
2. 9 Inches
Cyclones: Starting cornerback Ter'ran Benton will miss the game on Saturday to attend his grandmother's funeral. You definitely hate to have a guy on any team miss time due to a due to a death in the family. Projected to fill in for Benton is Jeremy Reeves, a 5-7, 168 lb sophomore. Reeves did play a good amount of time last week and had 4 tackles.
Hawkeyes: McNutt is listed at 6-4, Davis at 6-3. That is an 8-9 inch height advantage that the Iowa receivers have over Reeves. McNutt has been successful going up over the top of defenders, especially in the endzone. Stanzi may not have gone to his wide receivers very much last week, but I think he will have plenty of incentive to this Saturday.
3. Up the Middle
Cyclones: The biggest weakness of Iowa State's defense is its undersized defensive line. In particular the defensive tackles have struggled, though they both have some experience. Bailey Johnson had 22 tackles last year and Stephen Ruempolhamer had 20. Neither got into the backfield very often combining for 5 TFL. Last week, Northern Illinois had most of its offensive success by running the ball right at the defensive tackles. NIU out-gained the Cyclones on the ground with 156 rushing yards on 36 carries.
Hawkeyes: Fortunately for Iowa, ISU's defensive weakness plays right into Ken O'Keefe's hands. Iowa will pound the ball up the middle with Adam Robinson and Jewel Hampton then play-action for a big gain over the top when the linebackers and safeties get sucked up near the line. Robinson and Hampton are both well suited for running between the tackles. Robinson showed last week his ability to get yards after contact.