It's been a long time since Iowa had a game like this...a game when none of the factors really matter at all. A game that's over in the second quarter. A game where Iowa thoroughly dominates on the field and the scoreboard. And man was it fun.
I was worried about this game sandwiched between to rivalry games on the road. It seemed like Iowa overlooked Missouri State 2 weeks ago and thought it might happen again. I was so, so wrong. The Hawkeyes were well prepared and ready to go from the start of the game. It took the offense a little while to find their groove, but everything else was clicking.
The biggest piece of evidence was on punt return. Iowa scouted Western Michigan well and threw out a different look from the punt return unit to handle the potential rugby style kicks. It's safe to say that scouting paid off well. Give Chris White a raise already.
Plus, the secondary didn't give up a pass over 19 yards and I don't any bad drops by the receivers.
Keep the course
Iowa struggled a little bit to establish the run early, but quickly found their groove using all 4 running backs. Each had 10+ carries and Iowa racked up 258 yards on 58 total runs.
On Iowa's final drive of the day, they ran it 15 straight times and moved all the way down the field. Then took a knee 3 times to cap off an 18-play, 63-yard drive that chewed up the final 9:26 of the game. That's quite the way to finish of a game.
Find a number 2 receiver
With all the special teams and defensive score, Iowa's offense didn't really need to do much. Jake Rudock only threw the ball 15 times. The nice thing to see was that, even with a big lead, Iowa took the 3rd quarter to work on the passing game a little bit. Six of Jake's attempts came in the 3rd quarter and they mostly went to backup TEs/receivers.
While nobody really emerged as a number 2 guy (Ray Hamilton had 3 catches and everyone else had just 1 or 2), I think we saw some good things from this group. Damond Powell got involved in a big way. He played a lot of snaps in the second half and had a nice TD where he was able to get a ton of separation and a huge 54-yarder on a beautifully placed ball from C.J. Beathard. Jacob Hillyer also had his second TD catch in 2 weeks and it was again thanks to his ability to make a quick move and get extra yards after the catch.
Ugh. Probably the only thing you can point to that was not good in the game was the offense in the red zone. Not counting the kneel downs at the end of the game, Iowa was 2-4 in the red zone on getting a TD. Iowa's first drive of the day was set up by a nice punt return. The Hawks had 8 plays from inside WMU's 25 and failed to get a TD. The other failed drive came on a fumble from Jordan Canzeri at the beginning of the second half. While these didn't matter at all this week, the trend of not finishing drives is going to become a problem really quickly with B1G play starting this weekend.
This was the type of game Iowa needed. I think the fans needed it too. The backups got in and got some good experience. Beathard looked good out there on his couple of throws and looked really comfortable with the zone read. Lots of receivers played. The running back depth is a real thing. The backups on defense gave up some yards, but kept WMU off the board. It was just fun and great and awesome and pretty much everything Jacobi already said in The Takeaway.
So now bring on the Gophers.