Jerry Schultheiss-US PRESSWIRE
Another game another loss. At least we got an extra hour of sleep Saturday night.
Late Saturday night as the day bled into Sunday morning, this part of the world got the chance to turn their clocks back and replay the 60 minutes between 1 and 2 AM. I used that extra time sleeping. I'm sure the Hawkeyes would have liked a do-over 60 minutes for that ugly beating they took from Indiana. Really, it was more like 53 minutes of ugly that followed the first 7 minutes of the game in which it looked like Iowa might actually win big. Oh false hope.
Four factors in review
Win in the red zone - The defense did its job in the red zone. It was in full bend but don't break mode, and for the most part that was effective. Indiana was just 2 of 5 in the red zone. There was a missed FG, a great 4th down stop, and a turnover on a fumbled exchange. Iowa almost had another red zone stop as well, if it weren't for a bogus pass interference call on 3rd-and-goal from the 5.
Unfortunately, the defense bent and broke when it mattered in the 4th quarter as it gave up a 4-play, 61 yard drive right after Iowa had taken the lead.
The offense, as I was worried about, only reached the red zone 2 times (they also scored once from the 24 yards out on a nice play by Kevonte Martin-Manley). This was against the worst defense in the B1G. Iowa had five 3-and-outs, a 4 play drive, and two drives that were 2 plays and ended with the clock running out. So basically, the offense was awful.
In the red zone, Iowa scored 1 TD and threw a horrendous interception. When you reach the red zone so infrequently, every chance is important. What makes it more frustrating is that the interception came on that terrible back shoulder throw that has been completely ineffective all year. Vandenberg can't throw it, the receivers can't catch it, and yet Greg Davis still calls it.
Step up seniors - Oh, I don't know. Vandenberg played okay. He was 24/31 for 249 yards with a TD (hooray for passing TDs!!) and an INT. Keenan Davis wasn't much of a factor. James Ferentz played pretty well and was a force when he pulled around to the outside as a lead blocker. The pin and pull outside zone was about the only run play that was working and it led to Iowa's 4th quarter TD.
On defense, it was a bad day for seniors. Micah Hyde got beat on a 30 yard TD on Indiana's winning score. Greg Castillo totally forgot that you need to cover you guy even when the quarterback starts to scramble and gave up a 77-yard pass.
Joe Gaglione continued his solid ways though. He had 4 tackles and a sack. So there was that.
Dictate the flow - To some degree, Iowa turned this it to its type of game. It was relatively low scoring. Indiana was held to its season low, so credit goes to the defense for that. The offense, of course, didn't dictate anything. It wasn't able to establish the run against a terrible rush defense. Iowa didn't even get 100 yards on the ground.
Still it came down to the last couple of possession and was just a 3-point game. That's exactly the kind of game Kirk Ferentz wants and is unfortunately the kind of game Iowa all too often fails to win.
A scoreless first quarter - So close. Iowa forced 2 punts and returned an interception for a TD in the first quarter. But didn't quite seal the deal as Indiana manage a 45-yard field goal. 3 points was the final margin.
Of the games
I didn't do the "of the games" last week because I was just mad. This week I kind of saw this loss coming and as HFMR talked about in his "Lickification" post, apathy is starting to set in.
Player of the game - Kevonte Martin-Manley. KMM and JVB were killing it for a while on the KOK classic waggle play. It's funny how all of Iowa's best plays this year come straight out of O'Keefe's playbook. Martin-Manley finished with 131 receiving yards (his second 100+ yard effort this year) and scored the game's first touchdown.
Play of the game - The Christian Kirksey pick six was a close second, but I'm going with the Damon Bullock 4th quarter touchdown. It was the aforementioned pin and pull outside zone and was run to perfection. Pulling linemen has always been a small part of the Iowa run game, but we've seen it more this year during a couple of games. Against NIU in week 1, Iowa ran the pin and pull quite a bit, and in the second half on Saturday, it was back.
It was just a 4-yard TD run, but it gave Iowa the lead. It was also a good audible by Vandenberg at the line. On the snap, Ferentz, and Van Sloten pull to the right. Fiedorowicz initially does a good job eating up two defenders and ultimately seals off the DE. Van Sloten comes around to get the OLB, and Ferentz comes around a pushes another LB out of the way allowing Bullock to run into the endzone untouched.
Good coaching decision of the game - Well it was definitely not the punt on 4th-and-1 at the end of the game. Iowa did kind of get screwed on that play, however. Not only was the spot horrendously short (Keenan caught the play well past the 1st down marker), but Iowa was trying to get off a quick snap/QB sneak that wasn't allowed to happen thanks to a review that didn't overturn the bad spot. So, I don't really have a good decision. I thought the use of the play-action was better.
I had been writing about the outside shot that Iowa could play for a B1G title. Now with 3 straight conference losses, that's out the window. It's full on desperation mode just to make a bowl game at this point. Maybe the best thing we can hope for now is to ruin Nebraska's season by knocking them off and knocking them off of the top of the Legends.
Not making a bowl will be tough on this team. At least in 2007, Iowa won 6 games and was allowed some extra practices before they weren't selected by a bowl. I don't know if the couple extra practices had anything to do with it, but in 2008, the Hawks were a much better team. Right now, it's looking like those extra practices, which would be really useful at this point, are not going to happen.