Former Iowa All-American quarterback and current BTN analyst Chuck Long returns this week to discuss the Hawkeyes play from their week one loss against Northern Illinois.
Q: Considering it was his first ever college football game, Jake Rudock he exceeded my expectations. How would you assess his play?
Chuck Long: I was very impressed with him. I thought for a first start for a young man who has never thrown a pass in a collegiate game, I thought he played with poise…he threw two picks but one was a tipped ball. The only errant throw he made was that last one and he will learn from that. There were times where he looked like a veteran guy out there who had been playing for a while. That’s a good sign. He’s a smart kid, he was well coached in high school and came from a great program. For a first start….it was a lot better than my first start, I’ll tell you that right now.
Q: Your first start was at Nebraska, right?
Long: Yes, it was horrendous. I thought that was pretty good for Jake’s first start. Mine was miserable. I got benched the next game because of it. I thought Jake handled himself very well.
Q: There is an old cliche about a team’s biggest improvement being week one to week two..as former player and coach, do you buy it and where do you think this Iowa team improve most this week from last?
Long: I think they were close to hitting some more big plays, offensively. I liked Greg Davis’ call on 3rd and 1 even though it didn’t hit, that deep shot would have put some icing on the cake. I liked that call and as time goes on I think those plays will happen. Overall, the secondary play will get better. There were some secondary breakdowns that will improve into game number two. Every coaches fear going into the first game are those mental breakdowns because you haven’t played a game yet. Now you have live film against another opponent so you can learn from that. You go from there to the second game, you won;t see as many breakdowns as you did in game one. Offensively, if you think about the production compared to last year, that was a vast improvement. A vast improvement. That is something to build on for the Hawkeyes.
Q: This week, some fans are feeling like “Oh no here we go again, we are going to be a bad team.” You picked Iowa to be 6-6 and said it would be a great year if they got to 6-6..do you feel any differently about this team now and their chances after this first game?
Long: They are a better football team than they were last year. They already showed that to me in game one. However the schedule is so daunting that it may not show up in the win column, if that makes sense. I think they could be a better football team this year but it won’t show up in their record. I still think 6-6 would be a great year for them, considering going from last year to this year and their schedule. The Northern Illinois game was a game that you’d like to win…it gets you off to a good start…they added Ohio State and Wisconsin this year. That last half of the season is going to be really tough. The first five games for this team are key; you have to be in the positive side of the win column there.
Q: Were you surprised at how few targets the tight ends got in this game, which seems to be a theme carried over from last year?
Long: CJ did catch a touchdown pass. Iowa really lacked big plays last year. They lacked 20-yard or more passes. Talking to Greg Davis before the game, he wanted to get the ball down the field. There were a lot of naysayers last year about how they couldn’t get the ball down the field, and they couldn’t. They have worked on that in the offense. They need big plays down the field. It will be hard for them, especially with a young quarterback, to move that ball down the field for a 15 play drive to score a touchdown. They have to make some big plays and how you do that is lock up, protect and put guys like Powell out there for a home run shot, which they tried.
Tight ends will not get you big plays down the field. They are more possession type receivers because of their size. They are not as fast as wide receivers. There is a lot of pressure to get that ball down the field to help that young quarterback. So you do that with wide receivers and block with tight ends. Once they get those big plays, in time that is going to open up the tight end play but it will be the reverse of that for a while. They are trying to run the ball, get the line of scrimmage tighter and take the shot down the field with their wide receiver. Once they hit those big plays, you will see more balls thrown to the tight end as the season goes along.
Long has made a return to Iowa and is living in Cedar Rapids where he works as a Business Development Executive for Holmes-Murphy Insurance, a company who is headquartered in Des Moines. He is also doing color commentary and studio work for the BTN.
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