Four Factor Friday: Minnesota

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There's only a few hours left on this Friday, but there's still time for the four factors.

Get early pressure

In each game this year the Iowa defense has come out and stayed in its base 4-3 for the opponents entire (if not entire, close enough) first drive, and the past 3 weeks those drives have ended in the opponent scoring. To Iowa's credit, they have made great halftime adjustments and have played excellend second half defense. But Iowa needs to make adjustments quicker on defense to avoid faling in a big hole like last week against CMU.

So how to do that? It starts with pressure on the quarterback. A lot of the second half adjustments have been finding ways to help the struggling defensive line get in the backfield. It would be great if Iowa didn't have to send in blitzers, but after a month of football, we've seen that they do. So don't wait until the second half to mix it up on D.

The good news for Iowa is that MarQueis Gray suffered a high ankle sprain a couple weeks ago and will likely not play and definitely not start. So in his place is the much less mobile Max Shortell. He's got a good arm and can move around in the pocket a little, but isn't going to be as big of a threat to run a sweep on 4th-and-goal from the 2 in the final minute of the game and score a game-winning TD.

Keep doing what works

Iowa's offense has been pretty successful in the 1st quarter the past couple of weeks amd they've scored on each of their 4 opening drives. A lot of this has been driven by an excellent rushing attack and a strong play-action game. It was working great last Saturday the entire game, except for the second quarter when Greg Davis decided to completely go away from it.

So, keep pounding the ball with Weisman, and keep giving Vandenberg opportunities to throw to open players off of play-action. It'll work.

Minnesota's defense is going to be better than UNI's or CMU's and probably more like ISU's. They're not going to sit back and let Weisman easily rush for 200 yards. So the passing game is going to have to show up too.

Play smart

Iowa made more dumb mistakes last weekend than I can remember a Ferentz-coached team making. Yeah, it's probably hard to keep your cool when a 300-pound dude in lying on top of you gouging at your eyes, but you still have to do it. Iowa can't afford to have dumb penalties like that tomorrow.

Iowa also needs to be sharp and on the lookout for trick plays, onside kicks, fake kicks, etc... I don't think I need to recount the times in recent history Iowa has looked foolish on these types of plays.

Bounce back

Iowa's final 6 regular season games last year went W-L-W-L-W-L. Start of the season W-L-W-L. See a pattern here? Yeah Iowa has been losing a lot of games, but importantly for tomorrow is that they have done a great job putting the losses behind them. Iowa followed up losses last year with wins over Pitt, Northwestern, Michigan, and Purdue.

Nate Kaeding wrote a nice piece for Mike Hlas on The Gazette on how Kirk Ferentz leads Iowa through stormy times. I'm a total Ferentz apologist over here, so I ate this up. I think Iowa will clean things up and play a lot better.

So, prediction time.

Prediction

This game goes a lot like the rest of this season. Both teams scores earlier and trade some points in the first half. But Iowa's defense plays better in the second half and makes Shortell uncomfortable. Weisman adds two more TDs to his resume and Iowa wins in a close one and brings home Floyd on homecoming.

Final Score: Iowa 23 - Minnesota 20

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