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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Keys to the game: Iowa

Iowa's Adrian Clayborn sacks Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt during the second quarter of the FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, Tuesday, January 5, 2010. (Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald/MCT)
Iowa's Adrian Clayborn sacks Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt during the second quarter of the FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, Tuesday, January 5, 2010. (Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald/MCT)

Players to watch for Iowa

DE — Adrian Clayborn

No player will have more star power on the field Saturday than defensive end Adrian Clayborn. He currently sits at No. 5 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board, and is an expected top-5 draft pick. As Ricky Elmore put it, “”He’s not only big, he’s fast, he’s athletic and he’s really experienced. I think his experience with his athletic ability, strength and speed just makes him one of those type of players we’re not used to seeing every week.””

The senior is the real deal. In 2009, he totaled 70 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks, including four forced fumbles. He can wreak havoc in Arizona’s backfield, so keep your eye on No. 9 because he will undoubtedly be heard from numerous times Saturday night.

QB — Ricky Stanzi

The senior quarterback is a seasoned veteran who does a decent job of managing the game. Because of the nature of Iowa’s offense, he isn’t going to wow you, but he’s effective and a great fit for the Hawekeyes’ attack.

“”He’s really been a more consistent and deliberate thrower, seems to be able to read things better,”” Stoops said of Stanzi this season. “”He’s played awfully well and has made great decisions. He can throw the ball down the field. He does a lot of good things.””

RB — Adam Robinson

Robinson was only a two-star recruit out of high school, and only garnered serious interest from Iowa. But in his sophomore campaign the 5-foot-9, 205-pound running back has proven to be exactly what Iowa needs — a back with a combination of power and speed. He had a solid freshman campaign as well — 834 yards rushing and five touchdowns — and has carried that into 2010. With Iowa’s focus on slowing the game down and pounding the ball, the Wildcats should see a heavy dose of Robinson. The sophomore exploded for 158 yards on only 14 carries last week against Iowa State, which is something Arizona can’t let happen if it hopes to have a chance Saturday night.

Iowa’s keys to the game

Take the crowd out of it

Arizona has one thing playing against Iowa that it didn’t last season — the crowd. And thanks to the ZonaZoo and the city of Tucson living on Wildcat football, Arizona has won 13 of its last 16 home games by an average of nearly 25 points.

“”The atmosphere is going to be wild,”” running back Nic Grigsby said. “”They’re coming here, that’s the good part. Our fan support, our student section, they go wild so it’s going to be great.””

The Hawkeyes need to take the crowd out of the game early — via turnover or big play — to swing the momentum in their favor. If the Hawkeyes can deflate some of the hype surrounding this game, and if the Wildcat crowd goes quiet, Arizona’s biggest advantage goes out the window.

Ball control

Last season, Iowa was largely successful because they had nearly a full quarter of playing time advantage, holding the ball for nearly 15 minutes longer than the Wildcats.

The Hawkeyes took advantage of long, sustained drives and converted on 10 of 19 third downs to keep the Wildcats off the field.

Although it’s performed admirably so far this season, Arizona’s defense is still young and inexperienced. The longer Hawkeyes have the ball, the more tested the Wildcats’ defense will be and the more potential for blown assignments to have a large impact on the scoreboard.

“”As long as we don’t let that train get going I think it’s going to help our team a lot,”” said defensive end Ricky Elmore of Iowa’s time of possession. “”As long as we have our offense with the ball and let our team control the tempo of the game, it’s really going to help us out.””  

Stick to the game plan

The Hawkeyes have used their size and fundamentally sound style of play for years now and it’s resulted in nothing but success — and that needs to remain the same on Saturday.

The Arizona offense has been impressive through two games, but the Iowa defense is on a whole other playing field compared to The Citadel and Toledo.

“”They don’t have as much speed, but they fill holes and get after you pretty good,”” said Nic Grigsby. “”That’s the thing with them, they’re going to come down and fill the holes.””

The physical nature of Iowa’s defense is something Arizona will need to overcome if it looks to find consistency.

If Iowa maintains its identity on the defensive side, the Wildcats could be hard-pressed for points and ball possession.

 

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