Thankfully Ferentz realized that Ricky Stanzi truly was the Manzi and kept him in for the second half at Pitt. I know they were tempted to bench him at the end of the first half after he tried to get the first down and keep the momentum going, but he was merely trying to win and I don't think he truly realized the coaches were telling him to change plans. But he didn't throw it away and damn near got that first down. He showed some nice poise in his attempt. And the momentum kept flowing through him in the second half. I think Jake Christensen was 2/8 in the first half of that game which is far worse than anything Stanzi did in the first half. Stanzi was the best chance to win that game. Who knows what Jake would have done had he played the second half? Maybe trip over his own feet and fumble away our last hope?
And Shonn Greene. How amazing as he been for us this year? Taking a running game that has been hampered by youth and injuries as of late, and making it the domination of our game. Also a key is mixing it in with some more passing. There has been some greater play variety this year opening up the running lanes for Greene. It's still not perfect, and a little predictable, but not nearly as bad as last year. If we would have stopped giving him the ball so much in the second half of that Pitt game, things could have gone a different way.
Then there was that amazing Homecoming game against Northwestern. We jumped out of the gate quick, but were hampered by alot of turnovers. Yet we still pulled it out. Stanzi made a name for himself in Iowa Hawkeye legend by leading the team down the field. He got us to first and goal down those 5 points. He gave us the chance, 4 plays for a touchdown. And I admire the playcalling again. The coaches weren't afraid to run the ball even with Greene knocked silly for the game. They shocked the Northwestern defense with the Hampton run on third down and he pounded it down to the half yard line for Stanzi to sneak it in on 4th down. What an exciting win. Made me a little sad that that was the first home game I couldn't be at in 2 years.
Then, Michigan State on the road. Already with one of our rare road victories under our belt this year, we went into East Lansing with a mission. Things were a little rocky for Stanzi at the start. A pair of fumbles and a horrible PI no call in our red zone that caused a pick, but we were still in this game. I admire Ferentz for going for it on fourth down when we were borderline out of range. Missing that try wasn't a big deal. I also like how he went back out there on the 20 with the offense on another 4th and 1, but was smart enough to call the timeout when he didn't like what he saw from the Spartan defense. And then he smartly sent out the FG unit to tie it. Then the defense stepped up huge in OT, stopping the Spartans from scoring and then Greene just ran it into the end zone when all we were trying to do was set up the FG. The excitement is just too much for me to handle right now. I cannot wait for the trip to Indiana this weekend. If we can beat Pitt and MSU on the road, Indiana shouldn't be a problem.
Now I ask: Kirk and his league of assistant, would that have been so difficult? These losses can all be pinpointed on your horrible decision making.
- Stanzi did not appear to be even looking at the sideline when Ken was waving his arms calling for him to not run the play. He was doing what he was told before the series began. Yet we pull him for 2/8, can't find a receiver Jake?
- Shonn Greene is a beast. Why the hell do you stop handing him the ball in favor of 'I'll throw it 5 yards behind or in front of you' Jake?
- Greene had 147 yards for the game. Only 14 in the fourth quarter because we stopped giving him the ball. I know I want to stop giving the ball to a guy who had 133 yards through 3 quarters.
- Jake was 12/24 for the game. Admittedly, he picked it up some in the second half. But Stanzi was 7/10 in the first half averaging over 11 yards per reception.
- Admittedly, 5 turnovers killed. Put some glue on the returners hands or something I guess.
- We were still up 17-16 through 3 quarters despite having the ball for about 2 minutes of the third.
- Something needs to be done about our secondary players and coach as evidenced by the last drive of the first half which can be pinpointed as the momentum shifter.
- Stanzi marched us from our own 22 to the Northwestern 8. Greene is hurt. So we call for 4 passing plays. Bad passing plays. We had time and a timeout even. Hampton this year averages 5.1 yards per carry. Just call for one run to keep Northwestern guessing. Calling for a Hampton run on third could have shocked them all the way to a deficit.
- Fine, you call for 3 incompletes on the 8. Then you take that timeout and the best play call you can come up with assumes that there's no way they'll call for the all out blitz. Which they could easily do since we were forced into the obvious pass by keeping ourselves way back on the 8 for the fourth down play. Amazing.
- First, all of this could likely been avoided had a blatant PI call been called against MSU in the first half when we were on their 5. Instead our receiver was tackled before the ball got there allowing a Spartan to pick it off behind him.
- I am fine with going for it on the first 4th and 1 rather than kicking the long field goal. Both Murray and Mossbrucker have the leg, but accuracy from 45+ isn't always there. There was time left, so going for it wasn't a horrible deal.
- I am not fine with the play calling on 4th and 1 from the MSU 20. We went out there going for it and smartly called the timeout when we knew it wasn't going to work. But with little time left, we go back out there to go for it. Dumb. Mossbrucker has proven he can make that field goal and send it to OT.
- Not only do we not kick the FG, but the play call was horrible. It looked like a draw/read to the left. If we're going to go for it, we need to pound it up the middle smashmouth style and get it. Not lose 2 yards.
- The 8th highest paid coach in the country
- The 2nd highest paid coach in the Big Ten ($470,000 behind Tressel; $530,000 ahead of Rodriguez)
- 2004: 10-2 (7-1) -- Capital One Bowl: Iowa 30, LSU 25
- 2005: 7-5 (5-3) -- Outback Bowl: Florida 31, Iowa 24
- 2006: 6-7 (2-6) -- Alamo Bowl : Texas 26, Iowa 24
- 2007: 6-6 (4-4) -- No Bowl
- 2008: 3-3 (0-2) -- Not looking good
I'm sure before this, we remember the other 10 win seasons. The BCS Bowl (I won't mention how badly we lost). The way Ferentz built up the program. But I'm starting to see this as a fluke. The decline from those days. The recruiting has fallen, the results have fallen, the coaching decisions have fallen. We lost the core of those good players between 2004 and 2005 and were unable to replace them. We lost to Western Michigan last year costing us even a Motor City berth. For the money Ferentz is getting, we should be a BCS threat every year like Tressel's Buckeyes. Or we should at least be improving and be doing alot more with what we have than we should like Rodriguez's Wolverines are beginning to do. It's just his first year with a team in shambles and they managed to beat Wisconsin this year.
I'll give Ferentz until some time next year before I call for his job. I've seem glimmers of hope from the players, and I'll let him live off of his past success until then to make up for his coaching gaffes. If we have this same start next year, we need to cut the losses and realize we should have hired Stoops when we had the chance. Actually, I've already realized that, but I'm trying to make do with what we have.