Iowa can't really afford to sleep on any team at this point, but if there is a best bet on the schedule, this is probably it. Central Michigan only won 2 games over FBS opponents last year, and those were Northern Illinois and Akron. The Chippewas are coming off a bye week, but a week prior they got bulled over by Michigan State. The Chippewas defense somehow made a team that only scored 17 on Boise State and 2 against Notre Dame look like offensive juggernauts and made Andrew Maxwell look like a good QB. So this is the week that Iowa really need to get the offense on track and get everything tightened up for the B1G season.
Oh, and reminder: wear green for Greenwood if you're going to the game tomorrow.
Throw a touchdown pass
There are definite holes in Central Michigan's defense. They gave up 24 first half points to Southeast Missouri State and were trailing by 2 TDs before rallying. MSU's Maxwell went 20/31 for 275 and 2 TDs before the Spartans pulled their starters.
CMU does employ a 4-2-5 so there will be defensive backs a-plenty. Usually one of the hybrid guys lines up in the box and he probably will live there against Iowa to try to stop the run. Plus they like to blitz. So there should be some openings to pass the ball if Iowa can pick up the blitzers. And maybe this will be the week where Iowa takes advantage of its bigger TEs against a smaller secondary.
And Iowa needs to work on its passing game. It looked a lot better last week when it back to its roots and mostly just passed off of play-action. We know Vandenberg can throw TDs, he threw 25 last year, but we need to see it in the new offense if only to build a little confidence before the B1G schedule starts next week.
Finish in the red-zone
This is another that improved last week against UNI as Mark Weisman punched it in 3 times in the red-zone. However, there were 2 other drives that ended on the 1 (on for a FG, one a turnover on downs) and another drive ended short with a FG.
Iowa has pretty much used a heavy set inside the 10 and it has been okay. The TEs need to get more involved from the set on play-action. Vandenberg and Keenan Davis have also been working on the back-shoulder pass, and have come close twice. Maybe this is the week that'll click.
Get some time for the backups
May this is overly confident here, but Iowa should be able to build a big enough lead to throw in the second team towards the end of the game. I'd like the see Jake Rudock get a few snaps and some game experience. I think the second group of receivers would also benefit from the playing time.
Plus, this is probably the last and only chance for some mop up time, so hopefully Iowa can take advantage of it.
Keep it going on D and running the ball
The defense has been surprisingly good this year. They just need to keep it going. A little faster start would be nice, but that's probably the only complaint. They should be pretty comfortable going against CMU's offense. The Chippewa O didn't put up a point on MSU. They employ a more traditional offense...a lot of I-formation and pro-sets. On third down, they will spread it out a little more and go to shotgun, similar to what Iowa does.
The running back thing is just crazy at this point, and super, super interesting. Weisman is the starter, but we will probably see Michael Malloy for the first time. Greg Garmon might play after his elbow injury last week. And, welcome back Jordan Canzeri.
Because CMU is blitz happy, I expect Weisman to get the majority of the snaps for his blocking ability. But I'm excited to see what Malloy can do. He's kind of fallen under the radar since his arrest and injury as a senior in high school, but at one point, he did have a scholarship offer to Iowa.
Plus Canzeri. He looked promising last year in the bowl game. He showed a toughness that I didn't expect and a good burst. If he wasn't injured, he probably would have started the first 3 games and instead of "Weisman for Heisman," we'd all be saying, "Canzeri is the Manzeri." Or something like that. I think he has a chance to be pretty good.
Now we start looking to after the bye week when Bullock and Garmon are probably both healthy again, Malloy and Canzeri will have had some reps, and Weisman will have racked up another 3 TDs. When has Iowa ever had these kinds of options at running back? Maybe I am dreaming, but it things are actually looking up at Iowa running back.
Similar to last week Iowa will pound the ball on offense setting up sustained drives and deadly play-action passes. The offense will finish better and the red-zone and build a quick 3 possession lead. The defense will continue its steady ways giving up yards but not many points. By the second half Iowa will start to put it into cruise and the game will finish with the second teamers running a bunch of inside zones to burn off the clock.
Final Score: Iowa 34 - Central Michigan 10