True to form, Iowa added an extra, unnecessary, layer of interest and anxiety to a game that appeared out of reach at halftime (granted, even when Purdue was moving the ball in the 4th quarter it never really felt like the game was in jeopardy). Ultimately, it was nice to see a little explosiveness and firepower from the Hawks on offense—even if it came against a Purdue defense that looked like it was playing with its shoelaces tied together. Anyway, let’s take a look at how (in)accurate our keys to the game ended up being.
Keep defensive momentum
The defense was impressively stingy throughout the 1st quarter (29 total yards for Purdue on 2.4 yards per play) and remained stout for pretty much the entire time the starters were in. Honestly, the biggest defensive concern coming out of this game is probably the clear drop-off on Iowa’s roster once you get to the second team. Hopefully the Hawkeyes stay healthy and that doesn’t manifest into too much of an issue, but it’s definitely worrisome.
Speaking of worrisome, the Iowa defense (mostly the backups, but still) gave up a substantial number of big plays through the air. You can bet Phil Parker will be harping on that all week: the Hawkeyes can’t afford to consistently surrender explosive plays to Wisconsin on Saturday and expect to win.
While King’s pick-6* effectively sealed the game, turnover margin was not as big of a factor as the stats suggested coming in. It was nice to see Iowa take care of the ball offensively, though, after coughing it up a season-high three times against Minnesota.
*It was great to see Dez finally find the end zone—he’s felt really close to breaking a few of those returns. Any sort of points or field position from King will be huge in what figures to be a brawl against Wisconsin this weekend.
O Line consistency
The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for the dominance of Iowa’s running game against Purdue, especially with Cole Croston (who graded out as Iowa’s best lineman against Minnesota per ProFootballFocus, believe it or not) out with an ankle injury. The Hawkeyes capitalized on an injured and already shaky Purdue front 7 to the tune of 365 yards on the ground.
Iowa still gave up three sacks in this one, but overall I thought the pass protection looked improved. Whether that was legitimate improvement or simply a result of Purdue’s general ineptitude remains to be seen. We’ll know a lot more in one week.
Get CJB into a rhythm
Beathard played a solid, if unspectacular game; Iowa didn’t need anything more. CJB missed a few throws, but made enough plays to win the game and didn’t make any costly mistakes. I wouldn’t say Beathard got into a rhythm, per se, but I think this performance was a net-positive overall.
I said it last week and I’ll say it again: trying to pick the score of an Iowa game has been an exercise in futility this year. I went with 20-9, Iowa…not even close. Still, the Hawkeyes are sitting at 5-2 with a chance at the West Division that runs through Iowa City. As I mentioned before, we’ll know a lot more about this team in one week’s time.