10 @ 10: ‘It’s Wisconsin. They know ... We know ...’
Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense, the magic of playing under the lights at Kinnick and the elusive skill of Mekhi Sargent are among the plethora of topics touched on in today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10, your daily dose of Iowa news and notes.
Delivered each weekday at 10 a.m. at Hawkmania.com, your home for all things Iowa, here is today’s Hawkeye 10@10:
1. Iowa has already had a taste this season of the 3-4 defense that Wisconsin employs.
It’s a look similar to the one that Iowa State threw at the Hawkeyes earlier this month and something Iowa players have seen before from the Badgers.
“It’s the same fundamentals, the same scheme,’’ tight end T.J. Hockenson said. “We’re going to block the same people.’’
And there is one thing.
“It’s Wisconsin. They know what we’re going to do and we know what they’re going to do. It’s a historic team. They’ve played the 3-4 for a long time now, and we have a lot of tape on that. We’ve done the same stuff for a while now, too, and they have a lot of tape on it. We’re just trying to hold ourselves to a championship level.’’
2. Hawkeye safety Jake Gervase says there is something special about playing under the lights at Kinnick Stadium, something Iowa will do for the second straight weekend when Wisconsin visits for a 7:30 p.m. Big Ten opener this week.
“We know it’s going to be an electric environment and as soon as we step off the bus Saturday night, it’s going to have a little different feel,’’ Gervase said.
That has everything to do with the circumstances.
“Just because of the stakes and the opponent. It’s something we get excited for, but it doesn’t change our preparation.’’
Iowa has won six of its last seven and seven of its last 10 games under the lights at Kinnick.
3. Nate Stanley saw only one significant difference between his performance against Northern Iowa and the two games that preceded it.
“It’s just consistency,’’ Stanley said, who completed 82.1 percent of his passes against the Panthers after connecting on 52.9 percent in Iowa’s first two games. “I had the opportunity to be better in the first two games, too.’’
Stanley said he simply got into a more effective rhythm against UNI.
“Things came together faster. It was something we’ve been working toward, something we needed. The pieces just fit together.’’
4. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz views sustaining drives as a critical component to the Hawkeyes’ chances of moving past last year’s offensive struggles against Wisconsin, which brings a defense that is third in the Big Ten into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game at Kinnick Stadium.
“If you’re playing a team that’s as good on defense as Wisconsin is traditionally, to have a chance you’ve got to make the makeables and you have to make those at a high percentage,’’ Ferentz said.
“To me, that was a big part of it. We left the door open in just about every area. … We’re going to have to build, somehow, generate something to sustain some drives. They make it tough on you.’’
5. Fullback Brady Ross said a sigh of relief followed the three yards he gained on a fourth-and-1 fullback dive that Iowa ran in the second quarter of the Northern Iowa game last weekend.
“Everyone had their pads down, which was good,’’ Ross said. “I can’t jump very high so it all worked out, just the way it was drawn up.’’
6. Mekhi Sargent did more than rush for two scores and collect 72 rushing yards as part of a 207-yard effort on the ground from Iowa last week.
He also showed the elusiveness that attracted Iowa coaches to the junior college transfer.
“He’s kind of a deceptive guy, a little tougher than you might give him credit for,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He breaks tackles and if you don’t get him down, he’ll keep going.’’
Ferentz said Iowa defenders have that seen on the practice field for several weeks and he welcomed its carryover to a game last weekend.
“I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player here before he leaves and boy, that’s exciting for us,’’ Ferentz said.
7. The 10 receptions Nick Easley recorded in Saturday’s game against Northern Iowa flirted with the Iowa record book.
The Hawkeyes’ single-game record for catches in a game is held by Kevin Kasper, who caught 13 balls in a 1999 game at Ohio State.
The Kinnick Stadium record is 14, set by Dan Bitson of Tulsa in a 1998 game.
8. Wisconsin’s defense has been exceptionally stingy away from home during Paul Chryst’s tenure as the Badgers head coach.
The Badgers have allowed 13.9 points in games played away from Camp Randall Stadium since he took over the program in 2014.
That’s the lowest average of any program at the FBS level during that span.
Alabama is second, giving up 16.2 points when it plays away from Tuscaloosa.
9. Iowa will be chasing its fifth 4-0 start under coach Kirk Ferentz this week.
The Hawkeyes opened the season with four consecutive wins in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2015.
Those teams went on to win 10, 6, 11 and 12 games, respectively.
10. The field goal miss that denied Wisconsin a chance to tie the game late in last Saturday’s 24-21 loss to BYU has been a rarity for senior kicker Rafael Gaglianone.
He has hit 19-of-22 attempts since the start of the 2017 season, including three of his four field goal tries this fall.
Over the past three seasons, Gaglianone has connected on 9-of-10 tries from 40 yards or more.