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Should Iowa do what Penn State did to the Hawkeyes and sell out to stop the run against Wisconsin?
ANSWER: A version of this question popped up on the latest Land of 10 Iowa Facebook Live session. Football is a copycat sport. Teams will follow what anyone else does if it works. The Hawkeyes learned firsthand as several teams — but not Ohio State — followed the Penn State blueprint and loaded the box to stop the run.
It’s something the Hawkeyes should consider emulating. Wisconsin is No. 16 nationally with an average of 244.78 rushing yards per game. The offensive line and running back Jonathan Taylor are mauling opponents.
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook’s stats aren’t bad. He is completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 1,728 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. His 158.3 efficiency rating is second in the league.
But Iowa probably would be more comfortable with Hornibrook trying to beat them, especially with Badgers leading receiver Quintez Cephus out with a right leg injury.
The Hawkeyes prefer to sit back in their 4-3 and blitz only when needed, or to catch an opponent off guard. This would be the week to change things up and move a safety into the box and increase the number of run blitzes.
Wisconsin is best at running the football. Anything Iowa can do to slow it down or neutralize that is a huge advantage. The Hawkeyes shouldn’t be afraid to force Hornibrook to make plays with a depleted receiving corps. They can adjust the game plan if he makes plays.
Upsetting the Badgers won’t be easy. Advanced stats are big fans of the team. Containing the run is the first step. Hoping Hornibrook doesn’t put together a big day is part of it.
Offensively, the Iowa running game must show up for a second straight week, and the Hawkeyes could use more of those big passing plays from quarterback Nate Stanley.
All of that is important, but not as vital as defending the run. It’s why following Penn State’s strategy isn’t a bad idea.
Read more answers about the Iowa Hawkeyes here.
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