Iowa prepares for Montgomery, Iowa State without film

David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler pose challenges for Iowa’s defense – and it’s going to be even more difficult to stop them without film.


Joseph Cress

Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park hands off a ball to running back David Montgomery during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Iowa State playmakers David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler offer enough trouble for opposing defenses trying to stop them. Throw in the fact that Iowa doesn’t have film on the Cyclones this season because their first game was canceled, and that challenge multiplies.

The players themselves are some of the best Iowa State has to offer.

Butler, an athletic 6-6 receiver, caught 41 passes for 697 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2017, including 2 scores in last year’s Cy-Hawk game, one of which a go-ahead 74-yard bomb late in the fourth quarter.

Montgomery also torched the Hawkeye defense last season, running for 112 yards and a touchdown on the ground and reeling in 5 receptions for 53 yards out of the backfield.

Iowa faced a lot of quality running backs last year. Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, Justin Jackson all made that list, and so did Montgomery.

“I told our guys, I don’t know that we’ll see a better back this season,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I don’t know who’s out there, but we’re going to see good players. We always do in our conference. But he’s as good a back as you’re going to face anywhere in the country. It starts with him. First thing about it, he’s tough. He’s a tough, competitive guy, runs extremely hard, and I thought last year when it really counted, that’s when he was at his best.”

Iowa State had something going in its Week 1 matchup with South Dakota State, up 7-0 in the first quarter, before a storm derailed the rest of the game.

So the less-than-a-quarter’s worth of film that could have been given to Iowa is essentially worthless.

In terms of resources, film is one of the biggest a team has when preparing for an opponent, Iowa safety Jake Gervase said.

He estimated he watches about eight to 10 hours of film with the group in a typical week, while also studying 10 to 12 hours on his own.

Situations like this are uncommon— college football games rarely get canceled because of weather. The last time Ferentz remembers something similar is when Iowa played an opponent in Week 2 that played a team so bad the previous week that the film didn’t show anything about the opponent.

The situation certainly changes how Iowa prepares.

Film is a huge part of preparation, so the Hawkeyes will have to go back to last season to get their fill of film. There are also things from last season’s Cy-Hawk game that Iowa can pick out and make improvements on.

“It’s huge. Most of our time getting reps is in the film room, not necessarily on the field,” Gervase said. “It’s all about whether you’re in the film room or on your iPad at home. Using that as a resource, it’s kind of a full-time job, because it’s another class you’re trying to study and prepare for a big test on Saturday.”

Iowa may not have recent film from the Cyclones, but it does have a game under its belt. The Hawkeyes’ win over Northern Illinois served as a tune-up for Iowa State, and it was an important one.

There were a few questions, but those had a chance to shake out. Iowa held the Huskies to just 211 yards of total offense in Week 1 – a good sign entering a game against Montgomery and Company.

Perhaps the Hawkeyes having a game under their belt is the tradeoff for not having film.

“It’s a challenge for sure, but we feel good that we got on the field and played a game,” defensive lineman Sam Brincks said. “However you see it, it can be an advantage, or you can let it can bring you down, but I think both teams are probably going to take it as an advantage.”