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Countdown for Kickoff: Michigan at Iowa

John Kayser Feature WriterHello Hokeamaniacs! It’s football Saturday in Iowa City and this weekend holds weight for both teams. Each team wishes to finish strong in the Big Ten and earn better bowl opportunities. For Blue to come out on top though, here are the things I’ll be watching for:

5. Atmosphere
Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes play a tough brand of football. The Hawkeyes coach is old school, and look for the crowd to play a bigger than normal factor. Road games have been a pain in coach Hoke’s backside as has been well documented. Can Gardner and the Wolverines respond well under pressure in Iowa City? We will see. Plus Michigan will have to dress in a pink locker room…Nothing screams mind games better than a pink locker room.

4. Pass Coverage
Iowa is a traditionally run-first team except this year being an outlier to that statistic. Quarterback Jake Rudock has thrown for 1916 yards and will be looking to break 2000 on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s secondary will be tested this weekend. Add that pass coverage has been one of the weak spots of the Michigan defense and I smell trouble with chances of big play oppurtunity for the Hawkeyes.

3. As always the line.
I want to praise the big lugs on the front line, I do. It’s a very hard thing for me to criticize these guys. The linemen are so hit or miss though, I can’t trust them just yet.

Will they open running lanes like last week? Or will they get tossed around like in East Lansing or Happy Valley? This is a very hit or miss bunch and they still have a lot to prove. If this line can protect Devin Gardner and dominate off-the-line then this should be Michigan’s game to win. Their play is that important.

2.  Grit
It’s time for team 134 to show its grit and get pissed, get cocky, and excel accordingly. A confidence boost heading into the game on the 30th would be an added bonus. There has been many times this year that Michigan seemed lifeless. Bouncing back from adversity has been a strong suit though for Gardner. Michigan needs to come out firing early and often. The Wolverines better be ready to play all four quarters. I have a feeling they will have to in order to win.

1. Playcalling
I’m not on the fire Borges bandwagon but first things first! Michigan has obviously struggled with play calling on both sides of the ball this year. Ferentz and the Iowa coaches aren’t exactly pups at this coaching. The best coach wins this game late, plain and simple. One thing is for sure all Maize and Blue fans eyes will he keeping a close eye on Al Borges game-plan today. He can’t afford to be conservative and let Iowa beat his kids.

Borges needs to establish the run, but not when the defense expects it. These next two games may seal his fate.

The Iowa game will be all about strategy and execution. It’s going to be another close one. Whatever coach has prepared his troops and coaches his team best in the forth quarter wins this game.

Michigan – 27
Iowa – 23

John Kayser
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