The non-conference slate comes to an end this week as No. 5 Iowa (3-0) takes on Colorado State (1-2). It’s the first meeting between the two schools, but it’s not the first time they’ve seen former Vine star and Colorado State head coach Steve Addazio.
The Hawkeyes took on Addazio’s Boston College Eagles in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, winning 27-20.
It’s been a rough start to the Steve Addazio Era in Fort Collins. Last year’s COVID-shortened season was his first at the helm and the team finished a disappointing 1-3. This year hasn’t gotten off to a great start either. They got blown out by FCS South Dakota State 42-23 to open up the season. Not great, but it can happen to anyone.
They’ve bounced back about as well as you can expect them to. They lost a close one in week two against Vanderbilt, 24-21. Last week, they seemed to really hit their stride, thumping a Toledo team that was coming off a three-point loss to No. 8 Notre Dame.
Here’s what fans will see from Addazio and his bunch of dudes on Saturday.
Total Offense: 453 yards/game (34th nationally)
Passing offense: 288 yards/game (30th nationally)
Scoring Offense: 22 points/game (105th nationally)
Scoring Defense: 33 points/game (109th nationally)
Turnovers Forced: 1 (Last nationally)
Passing: Todd Centeio (QB), 652 yards, 3 TDs
Rushing: David Bailey (RB), 258 yards, 2 TDs
Receiving: Trey McBride (TE), 339 yards, 1 TD
Tackles: Dequan Jackson (LB), 29 tackles
Looking at the Rams offense will be a little bit like looking in the mirror for the Hawkeyes this weekend.
“They’re a big team, physical team, especially up front,” Moon Family Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
After weeks of preparing for teams that like to spread the ball out, this week feels a lot like training camp for the Iowa defense.
“Yeah, it’s similar,” junior defensive lineman John Waggoner said. “Just a lot of power gap schemes, so it’s a lot of coming off the ball, blow delivery, fundamentals and having your eyes in the right spot.”
It starts with the offensive line. That unit starts three seniors and two juniors, and the smallest guy is 295 pounds. They’ve only allowed two sacks this season. The Iowa defense had even last week.
So it makes sense that they like to run the ball. The numbers showing more passing yards, but that was a product of second half deficits. The film shows them putting a lot of guys on the line of scrimmage and running it right at the defense.
They feature Boston College transfer David Bailey at running back and he’s big. Like six-foot, 240 pounds big. He got off to a slow start, but has gotten better with each game. He finally broke free last week in their win against Toledo, carrying the ball 30 times for 132 yards.
The quarterback, senior Todd Centeio is also a threat in the running game, having topped 60 yards in two games.
“We want to stop the run and force them to drop back on third and long,” senior defensive lineman John Waggoner said.
Centeio has shown he can throw the ball if he has to. He’s topped 230 yards in two of their three games. Though his best performance did come in their loss to South Dakota State. His completion percentage is low at just 56 percent, but he’s only turned the ball over once.
“I think the quarterback is doing a really nice job for them,” Ferentz said.
His favorite target by far is senior tight end and NFL prospect Trey McBride. He has 30 receptions so far. The next closest receiver on the team has 10.
“You’re probably going to see as good a tight end as there is in the country,” Ferentz said.
McBride has topped 100 yards in all three games this season. Last week he had 109 of Colorado State’s 110 receiving yards. Otherwise, there hasn’t been much production from the receiver group.
‘He’s been a problem for many teams this year,” sophomore linebacker Jestin Jacobs said. “We just know we have to come physically ready to stop him.”
It’s a similar story on the defensive side of the ball, where the Hawkeyes will see a defensive formation that looks much like their own.
“It makes preparation a little bit easier,” junior quarterback Spencer Petras said. “You don’t have to train your eyes to see a totally foreign thing.”
They’ll line up in a more typical 4-3 scheme, led by preseason all-Mountain West selection Scott Patchan on the defensive line.
“I think their guys inside are probably going to challenge us more than maybe anybody we’ve seen thus far,” Ferentz said. “They got a couple really physical, active guys inside.”
Just like the rush offense, the rush defense has also improved as the season has gone on. They gave up 242 yards on the ground in their opening week loss. That number was down to 104 yards in week 2 and then really locking up Toledo last week, holding them to just 28 yards.
“Their front seven as a whole is pretty physical and talented and they play hard,” Petras said.
Coming off a career high in yards last week, it will be a good test for Tyler Goodson and the offensive line as they look to continue their improvement.
The pass defense, on the other hand, is an area Iowa could take advantage of. That’s been pretty vulnerable all season, with the three quarterbacks the Rams have faced all having pretty efficient games.
The most active member of the defense is middle linebacker Dequan Jackson. He leads the team in tackles and has caught the eye of the Iowa offense.
“If a guy is showing up on tape, it’s important to really respect them,” Petras said.