IOWA 59, WESTERN MICHIGAN 3: NOT-SO-INITIAL REACTIONS AND COMMUNITY PLAYER RATINGS

Put on your dancing shoes. - Matthew Holst

A day late and a dollar short, but Iowa still won by 56 points.

Yes, this is late.  Mea culpa.  The pre- and post-game festivities on Saturday were enjoyable -- thanks to everyone who stopped by and said "hi" at the tailgate or AIRBHGAPALOOZA 2 -- and the game itself was... well, it was pretty damn satisfying.

In case, you've been living under a rock for the last 48 hours, you know that Iowa beat Western Michigan on Saturday, although saying that they "beat" the Broncos sounds woefully inadequate when the final score was 59-3 and even that score doesn't fully capture just how lopsided the game was.  They sunk PJ Fleck's battleship.  Iowa dominated the game from the opening kickoff and put together probably their most complete performance since... oh, I'd say at least the 2010 Michigan State mollywhopping.  That win was more satisfying since that team from the Mitten State was actually, well, good, but hey.  I'm not going to spend any more time besmirching a 56-point victory.

Let's start with the defense.  Here's a listing of the WMU possessions and how they ended on Saturday:

PUNT
PUNT
PUNT
PUNT
PUNT
PUNT
INTERCEPTION
FIELD GOAL -- GOOD
INTERCEPTION
PUNT
INTERCEPTION
FUMBLE
PUNT
PUNT
PUNT

Western Michigan punted on ten of fifteen possessions Saturday.  On seven of those ten possessions, WMU went three-and-out (including their first six possessions of the game).  Their only scoring drive came after a LeShun Daniels fumble gifted them possession at the Iowa 28-yard line.  They drove to the Iowa 6-yard line before getting stuffed and deciding to kick a field goal, despite already being down 24-0, thus turning a three-possession game into... a three-possession game.  But, hey, at least the Fleckateers didn't get shut out.  They racked up 209 yards of total offense, with around half of those yards coming in the second half, after they'd dug themselves a 45-3 hole.  They had more punts (10) than first downs (9).  They turned the ball over four times (1 fumble, 3 interceptions).  If we wanted to quibble, we could argue that they had a little bit of success throwing screen passes to RB Brian Fields (he had 5 receptions for 57 yards) or that the defense again failed to record a sack (although WMU QB Tyler Van Tubbergen was certainly pressured -- and hit -- quite a bit), but c'mon.  The defense made big plays, they got off the field quickly, and they didn't allow WMU to threaten much at all -- by and large, they did a damn good job.

The offense wasn't too shabby, either.  The Hawkeyes ended up with another game with 400+ yards of offense, although the majority of that came in the second half, after Iowa had amassed an insurmountable 45-3 lead on the back of multiple quick strike touchdowns by the defense and special teams.  In fact, if you wanted to carp about the performance of one unit on Saturday, well, I could understand if you had some concerns about the offense. Iowa wasn't able to run the ball with impunity on WMU early (most notably failing to get a touchdown on three straight runs beginning from the WMU 7-yard line early in the game; Iowa settled for a chip-shot field goal) and did punt twice in the first half.  And you could probably grouse a bit about the fact that the offense was still only able to turn 400+ yards of production into 31 points.

On the other hand... WMU gave Northwestern and Michigan State some problems as well and, eventually, Iowa was able to wear them down and do whatever they wanted on offense, highlighted by the 18-play, 63-yard, 9:26 drive they went on at the end of the game.  What part of that was Iowa establishing its will and what part was Western Michigan simply throwing in the towel... who knows.  But the offense was able to make some plays in ways that we'd been wanting to see for a while: they stretched the field with deep passes (which also meant the return to prominence of Damond Powell -- welcome back, buddy!) and Rudock successfully targeted the middle of the field (and the tight ends, in particular) to keep several drives chugging along.  Hell, we even got to see the QB actually keep the ball on some of those zone-read plays, although the QB was C.J. Beathard, not Jake Rudock.  Given the strange way this game unfolded, I think it's probably wise not to read too much into the offense's overall numbers or second-half performance... but there's still a lot to like about what the offense was able to do in this game.

Hmm, there's one more unit I think I'm forgetting... oh yes, the special teams.  Well, the special teams did have a little bit of a breakdown on kickoff coverage at one point and there was that near-muffed punt, but... talk about obsessing over a few errors at the expense of everything else.  Meyer kicked the ball off nine times on Saturday; eight of those kickoffs resulted in touchbacks or returns of less than 20 yards.  That's pretty good.  And while there was that one near-muffed punt... uh, did you hear about the day Kevonte Martin-Manley had?  4 punt retuurns, 184 yards.  Oh, and TWO TOUCHDOWNS.  ON BACK-TO-BACK RETURNS.  Yes, that's right: Iowa returned not one, but two punts for touchdowns . That is very, very good and the sort of game-changing (in a good way, for once!) special teams that we've seen very rarely from Iowa in recent years.

A few other thoughts:

* Backups!  The blowout nature of the game meant that several back-ups got a lot of run in this game, which was most welcome.  The most exciting reserve to see action was QB C.J. Beathard, who finally gave us a glimpse of his ability in a game rather than just an open scrimmage.  And that glimpse was... pretty good.  The highlight, of course, was his sensational 54-yard pass to a streaking Damond Powell, but he also showed some pretty decent wheels on several runs out of the zone-read.  He's definitely got an interesting skill-set.

* Iowa spread the wealth among the running backs on Saturday; four halfbacks logged 10 or more carries in the game, led by Jordan Canzeri with 73 yards (and one nifty TD run) on 13 carries.  LeShun Daniels added 54 yards on 13 carries and bounced back nicely after an ugly fumble early in the game (it was gratifying to see that that mistake didn't permanently relegate Daniels to the doghouse).  Damon Bullock added 37 yards on 10 carries and Mark Weisman had 43 yards (and a quintessential Weisman TD run, dragging some poor defender into the end zone) on 10 carries.  Weisman didn't see a snap in the second half, which was great to see -- he deserved a rest after his exertions the past few weeks and Iowa was able to secure a big enough lead in this game that he could sit out the entire second half.

* Ray Hamilton had another nice game, I thought.  He led all receivers with three receptions (for 39 yards) and he was again a prominent run blocker for Iowa's ground attack.  He's really blossoming into an effective tight end for Iowa.

* Damond Powell!  Now that's what we've been waiting to see; hopefully the coaches continue to find more ways to use him because he's the sort of weapon that Iowa hasn't had on offense in a very, very long time.

* What a week for BJ Lowery.  He followed up that spectacular, play of the week interception against Iowa State last week with not just two interceptions, but two interceptions returned for touchdowns.  The interceptions (deservedly) get the bulk of the attention, but I thought he displayed some very solid coverage overall.  This looks more like the Lowery that's had the coaches and outside observers raving about his potential for the last few seasons.

* Jacob Hillyer, the last two games: 2 receptions, 47 yards, 2 TDs.  All he does is score touchdowns, man.

* 59-3!  It's the first time Iowa's cracked 50 points in a game since the 55-0 win over Minnesota and the biggest margin of victory since a 56-0 win over Ball State in 2005.  The win also ended a two-game losing streak to Western Michigan (as well as a two-game losing streak to MAC teams in general).  So yeah: this one felt pretty good.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Black Heart Gold Pants

You must be a member of Black Heart Gold Pants to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Black Heart Gold Pants. You should read them.

Join Black Heart Gold Pants

You must be a member of Black Heart Gold Pants to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Black Heart Gold Pants. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker