Three and Out . . .

Iowa's third-down odyessy, O'Brien for midseason COY and death to Ultimate Frisbee

Published: October 17 2012 | 3:18 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 2:09 am in

1) Third-and-5 and, wow, that's longer than it looks -- The Hawkeyes are 15 of 55 (27 percent) on third-and-5 and longer this season. Now, the national average for third downs is 41.38 percent, for all yardages. Iowa is 38.6 percent on third-down conversions, which sits 78th nationally and ninth in the Big Ten. So, by comparison, the Hawkeyes' third-and-5 number is probably below what it needs to be.

Not surprised, are you? Let's look a little deeper.

On third-and-4 or longer, quarterback James Vandenberg has completed 29 of 49 passes, with 14 conversions (28 percent). On third-and-4 to 6, Iowa has converted seven third downs through the air. It's six on third-and-7 to 9 and one on third-and-10 plus.

Wide receiver Keenan Davis is the target on third-and-5 plus. He's caught six conversions and has been targeted 20 times. Running back Mark Weisman has converted five third-and-5 pluses with seven attempts through pass or run. Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley is next with eight targets and one conversion. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has been targeted three times and has no conversions.

Before you pull the fire alarm on these numbers, the Hawkeyes were six of 15 in third-and-5-plus situations in last week's victory at MSU. The numbers before last week -- 9 of 40 (22 percent) -- would've been five-alarm fire.

Iowa has converted six first downs when running the ball on third-and-4 plus.

Overall on third down with 4-plus yards to go, Iowa has converted 32 percent of the time (20 of 63). So, yes, you do see a lot of passes short of the first down on third-and-something.

2) Bill O'Brien named midseason coach of the year by people -- No, it doesn't mean a lot, but Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has gained notice with the Nittany Lions' 4-2 start. We're talking national coach of the year.

CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd placed that honor on O'Brien, PSU's first-year coach who took the job last winter before the Sandusky sanctions threw the program into a no-postseason abyss for the next four years.

Dodd writes, ""What O'Brien and his staff have accomplished has to be viewed through a different lens. Burdened with what is only the beginning of the NCAA penalties applied due to the Sandusky scandal in July, a 4-2 record is a hell of accomplishment. That's good or better -- arguably -- than [Nick] Saban, [Steve] Spurrier or [Chip] Kelly could have done under similar circumstances."

Of course, O'Brien is all shucks, knowing that it doesn't mean much. Still, the Lions have won four straight and O'Brien has navigated one of the country's more interesting stories.

3) Death to Ultimate Frisbee -- Not really. I'm fine with Ultimate Frisbee, I just don't like it with helmets and when it calls itself college football.

Sports Illustrated's Holly Anderson tweeted this weekend that she wouldn't have made it through last Saturday night without the nap she was able to take thanks to the Iowa-Michigan State overtimes. Funny, but I would take 12 Iowa-MSU OTs over the slap-and-tickle Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech played late Saturday night.

The score was 59-57 A&M. A lot of national college football writers giggled at the numbers. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had nearly 500 yards of total offense (395 passing, 181 rushing) and accounted for six TDs. La Tech receiver Quinton Patten caught 21 passes for 233 yards and four TDs. That would put him as Iowa's No. 3 receiver . . . for the season.

You have to play some defense. Texas Tech is the No. 4 defense in the nation and it shutdown the lottery ping pong ball machine that was West Virginia's offense, 49-14. Numbers and yards have become cheap when its Frisbee-catching dogs against air.

I expect a similar fate for A&M when it travels to Alabama on Nov. 10 for a date with the Crimson Tide and Nick Saban, the father of "old man football."

It's not football without defense. I think Iowa 6, Penn State 4 would've put SI Holly in a coma.

Now, turn off that rap music, cut your hair and get off my lawn.

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