Iowa fell to Northern Illinois, 27-24, last Saturday despite several flashes of improvement from the 2012 campaign.
In fact, Iowa's offense over the weekend outpaced numerous categories from a full 12 game schedule last season. But an optimistic first half turned into a dismal second on the way to the Hawkeyes' seventh straight loss. Here's the first edition of "Breaking Down The Numbers," which will be a weekly look at some Iowa football metrics.
80 - The number of total offensive plays on Saturday against Northern Illinois, which is more than every game but one in 2012. If anything, this is a sign of progress — average plays per game in the FBS in 2012 was 83.12 — and that Greg Davis has been given more autonomy in his second year as offensive coordinator. Davis wants to open up the field, he wants to utilize his playmakers, but that can't happen unless there is a flow to the offense.
458 - This is the amount of yards the offense accumulated on Saturday. For the opening game of the Jake Rudock Era, the Hawkeyes established a nice balance of run and pass. Against a MAC team, this should be an output that results in a victory. The issue here is the distribution. Only 156 yards came in the second half after a 302-yard opening 30 minutes.
9 - Number of receptions by Kevonte Martin-Manley. Maybe too many. Why? Out of Rudock's 21 completed passes, nine went to Martin-Manley, so almost half. While there's a clear level of trust between them, there is seemingly no excuse that the next-most receptions total was two, which four players tied for. Why only two catches for C.J. Fiedorowicz, for example? The 6-7, 250 NFL prospect provided a mismatch against a relatively undersized NIU secondary.
77 - That's where Iowa ranks nationally in total defense after the first week against a potential Heisman candidate in NIU QB Jordan Lynch. While the defensive line is still a work in progress, the linebacking core of Anthony Hitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey is one of the most experienced around and should lead the defense throughout the year.
There is evidence that Iowa is willing to do some things differently on offense this season while sustaining defensively as well. What kind of matchup will Missouri State serve this week as a lead in to Iowa State on Sept. 14?