By Brendan Stiles
To get you all ready for Saturday’s game between Iowa and Purdue, I put together a list of things you ought to know before these two face off at Ross-Ade Stadium.
At the end, I’ll provide what I think are three keys to an Iowa victory.
Iowa Hawkeyes (5-4, 2-3) at Purdue Boilermakers (1-7, 0-4)
Ross-Ade Stadium; West Lafayette, Ind.
Nov. 9, 2013
11 a.m. Central
TV: BTN (Kevin Kugler, Glen Mason, Jon Jansen)
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (Gary Dolphin, Ed Podolak, Rob Brooks)
Brendan’s Three Keys to the Game:
1. Impose will defensively
Purdue possesses the worst offense in the Big Ten and arguably one of the worst offenses in the entire country. Given how stout Iowa has looked defensively for most of the season, the Hawkeye defense has to flex its muscles early here and break the Boilermakers’ spirit before they can get any sort of rhythm going. Danny Etling is a true freshman quarterback. Force him to play like one. Force him into mistakes like other teams have done successfully. The only way Purdue should have any chance of actually winning this game is if Iowa’s defense cracks. Last season, this might have been an issue. This year, it hasn’t been and it shouldn’t be on Saturday.
2. Keep it simple for Rudock
This isn’t to suggest that offensive coordinator Greg Davis bog down the playbook because Rudock is a smart enough quarterback to run his offense. But given the knee sprain Rudock is dealing with, what’s meant by “keep it simple” here is call plays where he doesn’t have to push off on the knee more than necessary. Most of the pass plays here should be designed for him to stay in the pocket and not have to scramble out and then put Rudock in a position where his receivers and tight ends can pick up yards after the catch. This is what’s meant by “keep it simple.” Allow his play-makers to turn it up another level so he doesn’t have to try and do it all on his own.
3. Find a back and stick with him
Honestly, this is a game that probably calls for Iowa running the ball at least 50 times as the Boilermakers are more susceptible against the run. The Hawkeyes struggled against Wisconsin’s 3-4 look last weekend and while they might start out slow against Purdue’s 3-4, they shouldn’t have quite the trouble. All that being said, this is the week where Iowa sees what it truly has in all four of its running backs and then find one to stick with for the final two (and more than likely three) games of the season. Whether it’s Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri or LeShun Daniels really doesn’t matter. Whoever shines the brightest Saturday (any and all of the four should be capable of doing so) should be who totes the rock the majority of the way going forward. This is a good week for Iowa to find out who that guy should be.