North Texas, fresh off a demoralizing loss to SMU, travel to the Big 10 and Iowa this weekend. Iowa are meat eaters, a big physical football team and something unlike North Texas will see the rest of 2017.
Here are a few keys:
Let's get conventional
Welcome to fullback land North Texas. Iowa isn't a spread team, they're a line it up, 21 personnel and wear you down. Iowa prides themselves on big physical offensive lineman. They also pride themselves on body blows and beating teams in the second half based on damage inflicted early. North Texas is improved up front defensively, more able to handle a bruising attack, but playing Iowa is a different animal. The Hawkeyes demand you play disciplined, not cheat, and don't get bored. The minute your eyes wonder, Iowa will go over the top and create splash opportunities. Then again, the Hawkeyes are just as happy to drive 80 yards in 20 plays.
As disconcerting as last weeks game was, a couple of things stand out. One, Mason Fine beat a heavy box through the air. SMU challenged North Texas to move the ball through the air by filling the run box with bodies, last season that scheme would have given Fine trouble, this season Fine has shown the ability to make plays down the field. Two, Graham Harrell is coming into his own as a play caller. Obviously, Fine's development and Harrell's play calling aren't mutually exclusive, but Harrell is expanding the Mean Green attack, and his rhythm and pace in orchestrating the offense are evident.
Don't Beat Yourself
The Hawkeyes will be technically and schematically sound on Saturday. Not flashy, but incredibly efficient, Iowa will challenge North Texas to play smart and avoid giving the Hawkeyes break or additional bites at the apple. The Mean Green committed seven penalties and three turnovers; North Texas must shore those areas up to compete in Iowa.
Notes and Numbers
- Saturday will mark the second game between Iowa and North Texas. The Hawkeyes hold a 1-0 advantage.
- North Texas' only trip to Iowa City was a horror story, the Hawkeyes won 62-16.
- North Texas ranks 17th in the country in passing yards per game at 328.
- Mason Fine's 424 yards last week is good enough for 6th All-Time in North Texas single game passing yards.
- Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley has eight touchdowns in two starts, good for 3rd nationally.
- Last week five of Iowa scoring drives went 75 yards or more.