Just kidding...sorta. :grin: Hopefully it's a great game. Should be one heck of a party regardless of the outcome. Just wanted to give you the lowdown on our team to spur some discussion. Sorry about the length, but I tried to be as complete as possible. Here you go...please take it easy on us slow Big Teners. Offense: QB- Drew Tate (soph.) Has been the savior of the team this year after all of the injuries we've suffered. Teams knew we were one dimensional, but he has still been able to elude multiple blitz packages and find the open receivers. When it's all said and done he may be the best ever to take snaps for us. He's a very competitive, firey, emotional player who sometimes gets frustrated with himself first and his teammates second. This has only been detrimental once in our game at Penn St. by my observations. Many are comparing him to Drew Brees, only more mobile. As long as he has throwing lanes, his height (6') hasn't been a factor, but Penn St. was able to get their arms up and knock down passes. OL blocking has been adjusted to prevent this from being more of an issue. Has a great knack for completing the third and long for first downs. Relates to picking up the blitz and knowing where to go with the ball. Wise beyond his years, knowing when to just throw it away has helped him and the offense survive. RB- What was considered a strength at the start of the season quickly became a joke as our top three went down to ACLs the first three games. Number four went out the next game with an ankle and has just returned last week. In the meantime we had Slammin' Sammy Brownlee, a soph. walkon from Emmetsburg, IA (class 2A powerhouse). He's gritty and tough, but not a D1 tailback. We also lost 2 FBs but have gotten one of them back. If Simmons (4th string) can be entirely healthy by gametime, which is likely, we should be just fine at this position and will probably exhibit much more of a run game than what we've had all year (which isn't saying much). WRs- Very solid group, mostly unspectacular. Clinton Solomon has become a go to guy. 6'3" with good body control and good speed. He'll be playing on Sundays if he has another year like this one. Ed Hinkel is our possession receiver. Great hands and has a flair for the dramatic. Evidence is the one handed grab vs. Michigan and diving catches in the end zone vs. ISU this year and Penn St. two years ago. Backups Holloway and Townsend are also decent. TEs- We have one receiving (Chandler) and a couple blocking (Jackson, Majerus). They have been an integral part of the offense and have done nothing but improve all year. They have been known to get the dropsies from time to time. OL- Again was considered a relative strength coming into the season until the injuries hit. Some time to gel and heal will be the biggest asset for this group leading up to the bowl game. We're missing our starting center and guard, with numerous nicks through the season. With the zone blocking scheme KF likes to use, the lack of consistency has been a big factor in why the running game hasn't existed and also why many of the sacks have happened. I would not be surprised to surprise you guys with more of a running game than we've had all year long despite your very stout defense. As for the heart and soul of our team, the defense... DL- four senior starters backed up by four highly thought of redshirt freshmen. Roth has been a beast his entire career. He has a motor that doesn't quit, which in his first couple years resulted in a few personal fouls. He gets held a bunch, but still has been able to put up great numbers. Babineaux (with a name like that, should be playing for you guys) is the other NFL prospect and a force on the interior. The other two are very solid (Luebke and Robinson). They rarely come out of a game for the frosh backups. LBs- The strength of the defense. Our D is geared to have the DL keep the LBs free so they can make tackles, and boy do they make a lot of tackles. Both Greenway and Hodge are as good as you will find in CFB and are both juniors. The third usual starter (Sr.-Lewis) is not as fast, but brings the wood. He is often spelled by smallish but faster Ed Miles who also loves to hit and is better in pass D. DBs- Solid, but not spectacular. We play a conservative deep quarters zone which is allowed to not give up the deep ball. Our corners can get beaten if left on an island, but because of the scheme, that doesn't happen too much. It is a veteran group with a senior FS (Considine), two junior corners and a soph SS (Paschal). Considine is the best of the bunch, very cerebral (Academic AA) and they like to be physical. Good run supporters, not the best one on one cover people. Good enough, however to get us a big chunk of our TO margin. The underlying philosophy of our defense has been quite simple. First, stop the run. Make teams one demensional. Second, no big plays (deep quarters coverage). Third, if a team wants to go with a short passing game, let them catch it then beat the piss out of them. Texas Tech did this three years ago and by the second half none of their receivers wanted to catch the ball. We hit them some more anyway. This defense rarely blitzes, but gets plenty of pressure with our front four. The two stud LBs Greenway and Hodge can fly, even by SEC standards. ASU beat us badly with Walter having the game of his life and us having quite an off night. No excuses, they kicked the crap out of us and were the much better team that night. We did the same to them last year. One other thing to mention is Grandpa Norm. If you recall the Vandy defenses in the early ninties that were so tough, he was the DC. We're very vanilla, but he makes subtle changes as the game goes on that become very apparent when the yards start to dwindle and TOs start to mount. Hopefully you guys will get very tired of hearing the Emperial March. (more on traditions to come later) On to the Special Teams... We have taken great pride in our special teams over the past couple years and more or less consider it to be Beamer Ball 2. Numerous blocked kicks, returns for TDs and some of the best coverage units in the land have left several teams wondering how they lost to us when statistically we were outperformed, but they failed to account for 1/3 of the game. Many starters participate on special teams which is one of the reasons it has been such a huge success for us. K- Kyle Schlicher (soph.) Had huge shoes to try to fill from last year's all everything Nate Kaeding. He has done an admirable job. Had some trouble early on, but has become much more consistent. Strong leg on kickoffs with touchbacks about half the time. He has not been too much of a letdown from Nate, thankfully. P- David Bradley (Sr.) One of the team's best human interest stories. Both of his parents died in the year before he came to Iowa. Was recruited as a QB, but ended up being a starting punter as a freshman. Struggled with inconsistency, but has grown to be a team leader and was named HM All-Big Ten this year. PR- Shared duty between rec. Ed Hinkel and CB Walner Belleus. Have been very strong averaging around 15 yards per return. Neither will take it to the house on their own, but with the emphasis this team places on STs can break a long one from time to time. KR- See PR, haven't had the explosiveness here due to RB injuries. Jermelle Lewis was a key here and he hasn't been replaced. Kick coverage teams as mentioned before have been a strength. No TDs given up since last year's game against Ohio St. where there was a blatant block in the back that wasn't called. PR coverage is giving up an average of around 7 per return and if Schlicher isn't putting them through the endzone, our opponents have often started inside the 20. Again, there have been games where we were less effective than our opponents on offense and defense, but special teams has bailed us out to be able to win the game. Purdue is still trying to figure out how we beat them in 2002. Need to check out this game in Scothawks videos, the momentum swings were amazing. Edited Link to Purdue game Best of luck and may the best team win!