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Iowa Insights: Q&A With Andrew Logue Of The Des Moines Register

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Andrew Logue is the Iowa Hawkeyes' beat reporter for the Des Moines Register.

Burnt Orange Nation: Coming into this year, it looked like Drew Tate would be able to build on his excellent junior season to put together a great - maybe even fringe Heisman candidate - season. That hasn't quite happened - his yards per attempt are down, while the interception rate is up. What's happened with Tate this season? Can his injuries explain all of the drop in production, or did something else go wrong?

Maybe this is how he got hurt.
Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Tate's injuries and a lack of experinece at the receiver position combined for a rough season. Really, Tate has not been healthy for months. He suffered an abdominal strain in August, and then damaged the ligaments in is thumb. His receivers, meanwhile, were trying to settle into their roles. Tate expressed his disappointment on the field, which magnified their mistakes. As the season progressed, Iowa missed former receiver Ed Hinkel more and more. Hinkel was a steady perfomer in past seasons who was a go-to guy on third-and-7.

Burnt Orange Nation: Albert Young's also taken a step back this year, his yards per attempt dropping by a full yard (5.36 in 2005 to 4.33 in 2006). Is this a case of Tate and Young regressing some, or was this year's offensive line to blame?

Andrew Logue: Same story for Albert. He sustained a sprained knee ligament, and never really got into a flow. Damian Sims and Shonn Greene showed flashes of their talent, but they struggle to do some of the little things that Albert provides - like pass blocking and being able to become a pass reveiver. The speedy Sims had a key, third-quarter fumble at Indiana that contributed to the Hoosiers' comeback win.

Burnt Orange Nation: The Hawkeyes managed to finish in the top 30 nationally in total offense, but dropped out of the top 50 in scoring offense. Has Iowa struggled in the red zone? What's the root cause of this?

Andrew Logue: Iowa's struggle to score is often self-inflicted. Twice they dropped late passes against Wisconsin that would have extended drives that may have led to an upset of the Badgers. Near the end of the first half at Minnesota, Tate threw a pass that was picked off at the goal line. The Hawkeyes never recoverd. Iowa also has a habit of committing silly penalties that cuase drives to stall.

Burnt Orange Nation: Iowa ranked 110th nationally in turnover margin. Has it just been a tough season of luck, or are they doing something execution- or scheme-wise that explains this?

Andrew Logue: It's hard to force turnovers when defenders are on their heels. There's always an element of luck in turnover margin, but that's just been one of several problems for Iowa.  The Hawkeyes have struggled to get pressure on the quarterback, which is an effective way to cause fumbles and interceptions.

Burnt Orange Nation: Can you give us a sense of how important this game may be to the Hawkeyes? Mack Brown is throwing all his weight into winning this game - do you get the sense that Iowa's similarly viewing this as an important win to close 2006? How has Iowa's fan base reacted to the 6-6 season?

Andrew Logue: Coach Ferentz has spoke of this game as a stepping stone for next season, not as a chance at redemption. He's been pretty up front about this being a disappointing season, and one victory won't change that. Ferentz has talked about tearing things down and starting from scratch. He wants to build for the future, and I get the feeling Texas represents a measuring stick.

Burnt Orange Nation: Thanks for taking some time to chat with us, Andrew.