The Good: Tight-Ends
"We get it Mike you really like the tight ends."
Well, I'm going to keep talking about them because they're awesome and Iowa wouldn't be where they are without Krieger-Coble and Kittle. HKC finished the game with four receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Kittle finished with two receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. That's 19.75 YPC and 24.5 YPC, respectively. On the season, the duo has combined for 567 yards, six touchdowns and are averaging 13.18 YPC. If Iowa needs a first down, Beathard looks for the tight end. If Iowa needs a touchdown, Beathard looks for the tight end. The play action has been especially effective:
Earlier in the year there were questions as to whether or not Iowa was going to get their tight ends more involved in the offense. I believe that question has been answered.
The Bad: Offensive Play Calling*
* - In the second and early third quarter.
If you looked solely at C.J. Beathard's stats and didn't watch the game you'd say to yourself "hey that's pretty good." A 60% completion percentage, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions is solid. If you watched the game you would've seen that Beathard missed on a few big throws that he usually makes. And yes, I know the wind was a factor. Regardless, there came a point in the game, primarily the second and third quarter that Purdue was stacking the box, daring Iowa to throw and the response from Davis was "not unique".
For instance, what was with calling a high percentage of single back running plays when Purdue had their linebackers at the LOS? Zone rushing plays require time to develop. You cannot get appropriate time when you're outnumbered by 2-3 defenders at the line itself.
Oh look, Jonathan Parker is on the field. I wonder if Iowa is going to call a sweep oh yep that's exactly what is going to happen.
On that same drive as the Parker sweep, you have a fresh set of downs and you call a passing play on first down and a quarterback draw on second?
If Derrick Mitchell is on the field Iowa is going to pass the ball. He's a third down back. That's understandable. Misdirection is appreciated, however.
But...credit Greg, he finally took advantage of Purdue's aggressiveness on Iowa's last drive of the third quarter and called a beautiful play that made George Kittle look like he was in pass protection, Kittle tore away at the last second and:
He also returned to actually using the fullback in the fourth quarter, which reestablished the running game and allowed for some excellent play actions to be called (as seen above).
The Ugly: Pass Rush & Defense
It's bad enough that the one-time benched Purdue quarterback was only sacked once on Saturday. It was worse that he was slinging it all over the field and DeAngelo Yancey frequently found himself in space, despite being covered by Desmond King. King, along with nearly every other player in the secondary, almost intercepted Austin Appleby. Almost is the key word, as Iowa's secondary missed on all their opportunities and finished with seven breakups and zero interceptions.
Marc Morehouse pointed out (via Hawkeye Gamefilm) that Matt Nelson got 33 snaps on Saturday. Why shouldn't he play more? Both of Iowa's ends are undersized and one should probably be playing linebacker. Matt Nelson is 6'8. He may not get pressure on the quarterback (and that really wouldn't be different from any other time) but at least he can get his arms up and break up a pass. Let the big guy play.
I realize that these posts pick nits and focus more on the negative than the positive, but it would be remiss of me to not point out that Iowa, a team that had only allowed 20 or more points twice through eight games, has now given up 20 more point points in three straight contests. Further, they hadn't allowed 400+ yards of offense in a game all season and they have now given up more than 400+ yards of offense to Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue. Nebraska is no slouch on offense and if Iowa wants to keep this season perfect and a shot at the Playoff alive, they'll need to play like they did the first eight games of the year.