Jeff Becker, University of Iowa Photo Services
Another game where the offense does too little, too late. Another 4th quarter failure by the defense. Another awful performance by the 2-minute offense. Another loss.
The game ended on a 46-yard field goal, but was lost long before. Against a team that hadn't one a conference game this year, whose best win was against Marshall, and whose head coach is almost certainly losing his job, Iowa was thoroughly dominated. And once again, the main problem, the reason Hawkeyes lost, was the complete and utter failure of the offense.
Iowa's offense didn't score a single point that wasn't aided by a turnover (and the ensuing great field position) or at least one 15-yard penalty. Iowa's 3 offensive scoring drives:
- A 7-play drive that went 22 yards for a TD following a Purdue fumble.
- Iowa's first drive of the second half went 69 yards in 12 plays...30 of those yards though were Purdue penalties (a facemask on 3rd-and-20 that gave Iowa an automatic first down and a pass interference that put Iowa first-and-goal).
- The last was an 11-play, 74-yard drive that was aided by a personal foul.
So yeah...it's worth repeating: no points were scored that weren't the result of Purdue doing something stupid. The offense was all kinds of awful. And worse, Greg Davis was pulling stuff out of the last page of the playbook. There was that toss, throwback to the QB, throw it downfield play (which was pretty nice), some misdirection stuff, a few different run plays, etc... With all that, the offense still only managed 264 yards, had 5 three-and-outs, averaged under 4 yards per play, and scored just 17 points. Speaking of, I wrote on Friday, "If the offense can't put up more than 17 points, then Iowa deserves to lose."
I honestly have no idea what the offense was trying to do against Purdue. It was a mishmash of gimmick plays (not really that gimmicky, but it was for Iowa) and runs right into the strength of the Boilermaker D. The pass game, either by design or by Vandenberg's pre-snap reads, tried to flow through Zach Derby. Of all the pass catcher who play regularly, Derby is probably the last guy I'd want to try flow the offense through. But he was target 6 times, had 4 catches for 26 yards. In the most critical of times, 4-and-3 from the Purdue 35 with under a minute left, Davis called Derby's number. It was a 1-yard out and Derby was promptly tackled. Turnover on downs, long run, long pass, long field goal, another loss. Iowa had previously tried a similar play to Derby on a 3-and-goal that Vandenberg overthrew and tried it even earlier and the play lost a yard.
So back to my point. Iowa lost this game in the first half when the offense was all kinds of awful. If it weren't for 2 Purdue turnovers and a missed field goal, the Boilermakers might have had a 20+ point lead. As it was, the offense still only amassed 99 yards and only scored once when they took over on the Purdue 22.
Four factors in review
Vandenberg, Vandenberg, Vandenberg - It didn't really feel like Vandenberg was playing terrible because he didn't have any interceptions and didn't have too many passes soar way off target. Still he finished the day 19 of 36 for just 190 yards. That's a whopping 5.3 yards per attempt. Other than the trick play and a nicely set up play-action on a 3rd-and-short, Vandenberg barely threw down field. It was more of the horizontal passing game we've all become accustom to.
Offensive guards need to hold their own - I'll keep this short. Complete failure. Kawann Short absolutely killed Austin Blythe all day. Short had 4 TFLs and a sack. Iowa's run game was atrocious (Bullock had just 43 yards on 22 carries).
Win on 3rd down - I'll keep this one short too. Both teams had 16 third downs. Iowa converted 4 of them--Purdue converted 9. That pretty much tells the story.
If all else fails, win with defense - Ultimately the defense let Purdue score 10 more than their B1G average and the D was horrible in the final 16 seconds of the game. But they did "force" 3 turnovers (forced is a pretty strong word since the fumbles were more Purdue just being stupid than the defense doing something good), scored 7 points on their own, and set up another TD. So even though the defense gave up 27 points, the net result was more like 13. If the offense was semi-competent, that would be a winning result.
In this section, I usually write something optimistic