Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blowin' in the Wind

The Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind" became popular when I was playing for the Hawkeyes. We used to spend a quarter on the juke box to listen to it while having lunch at the Student Union. While I loved listening to the music, I hated "playing" in the wind. Those of you who were in the stadium on Saturday probably deplored watching in the wind. It was tough to "face the music" for the first three quarters.

Seven of the eight interceptions thrown by both teams were thrown into the wind. Just because you can get a guy open, doesn't mean you can get the ball to him. Most fans know what the wind does to a golf ball or baseball, so just think from that experience what it does to a football. The wind was howling out of the north, which is the least protected part of Kinnick Stadium. If you had been playing golf, Saturday's wind would have been a four club wind. (four iron instead of seven iron from 150 yards) The wind not only cuts down on distance but causes the ball to sail erratically. Both quarterbacks faced almost impossible conditions. All quarterbacks would rather play in rain or snow than wind.

But if you're going to succeed as a quarterback in college or pro football you have to learn how to "play the wind" when you play in the wind. The best I saw while I was playing pro ball was Joe Namath of the Jets. Jets stadium was always one of the windiest places to play because of the ocean winds. Once playing there, while practicing punt returns during pregame, not one punt landed in the field of play. The swirling winds blew some of the balls way up into the stands. Namath knew how to play the wind though and torched us with passes anyway. He would throw the ball 10 or 20 yards left or right of his receiver and let the wind carry it to the right spot. He'd throw it 10 yards past the receiver and let the receiver catch up to it. It was quite a dazzling display.

Another great "wind playing" quarterback returns to Green Bay today to play in the weather. Brett Favre won a lot of games playing for the Packers. But in 16 years at Green Bay he had only two seasons where his passer rating was over 95, and he had nine seasons where it was under 90. The wind from Lake Michigan kept his passer ratings low, but not as low as the opposing quarterbacks. Favre's rating for this season, playing home games in a dome: 104.

Rick Stanzi became a much better quarterback from his experience Saturday. He will be a better "wind playing" quarterback. The next three games may have similar conditions, although Saturdays were extreme. Stanzi will be better prepared and the Hawks will be a better team.


Mark said...

Ed--I am about your age and graduated from the UI--I'll never forget your senior year--you were unreal. Never miss you and Dolphin.
Great story about Namath playing the wind. Hope to read a lot more of these kinds of posts. Also would love to see some stories about your Aspen life and buddies--gotta have a ton of great material there, and also Costa Rica. I spent a winter surfing in Central America back in the 70's and would love to get back while I can still float.

Adelguy said...

So, did the wind blow up Joe Willie's pantyhose? LMAO
Let's keep those Hawkeyes in the winning column!

Hi from Adel.