It’s time. It’s time to declare this season what it is—a massive disappointment. Full disclosure, I’m not a doom-and-gloom-everything-sucks type of fan. But after three consecutive lackluster performances, and especially after watching some of the other B1G conference games yesterday, Iowa is a long ways away from competing with the upper echelon of the conference. After 15 years of closely watching Iowa football, I’ve realized there are two elements of Iowa football that I have taken for granted, no matter how great or how poor that year’s team is: 1) discipline/fundamentals and 2) above average to great offensive line play.
This team is severely lacking in both of these things and without them, I’m all aboard the panic train because Iowa is nowhere near good enough to compensate for those absences.
Now then, I suppose we will try to break down what went right (not a lot) and what went wrong (a lot).
What went right?
Return Game: This is was far and away the biggest reason why Iowa was even competitive. Desmond King had 7 returns for 162 yards and Riley McCarron had 2 returns for 92 yards. Great success here and if the offense wasn’t completely inept yesterday, we may have seen a different outcome. Special teams can be a game changer and it looks like the offense will need all the help it can get going forward, so if Iowa is going to un-sink the Titanic, good special teams is a must.
Riley McCarron: It was also encouraging to see that Matt VandeBerg’s production can potentially be replaced by McCarron. McCarron was the lone bright spot in a receiving corps that had a forgettable day. McCarron did his best Meerkat impersonation by hauling in 8 catches for 78 yards and a TD and many were of the first down variety. Now if only the rest of the receivers and tight ends could participate...
Josey Jewell: Jewell had a career high 16 tackles and was absolutely instrumental in the defense rising to the occasion to stop the Wildcat offense twice in the 4th quarter when the team really needed it.
What went wrong?
Offensive Line: When some national pundits were saying that this OL would be one of the best in the country, I was hesitant to go that far, but I did think they would be solid, as are most Ferentz OL’s. James Daniels and Sean Welsh are almost certainly going to be in the NFL, so the talent is there. But my God, this OL is a freakin’ embarrassment right now. Northwestern literally doubled their season output in sacks with 6(!). This goes along with paving the way for an offense that put up a whopping 283 yards of total offense. For comparison, Nebraska went for 556 yards last week.
Still no #2 TE: In addition to my comments above, something else we Hawkeye fans have taken for granted during the Ferentz regime is excellent TE play. Clark, Moekai, Myers, Chandler, Fiderowicz, etc. Hell, Henry Krieger-Coble is on an NFL practice squad right now. The lack of TE depth is alarming right now because the WR’s haven’t produced, outside of VandeBerg. I was at the game yesterday and I can say pretty confidently that the coverage sacks Beathard is taking are because his receivers get no separation. Peter Pekar gets most of the snaps on double TE sets, but he’s clearly not on CJB’s radar when looking to throw. Either Jon Wisnieski or Noah Fant or someone needs to get on the field to give CJB another option. Not having one makes George Kittle even less productive (no reason Kittle should only have one reception in a game).
Penalties: This is flat out starting to piss me off. We can complain about the officiating all day long and there were couple calls/no calls that we had reason to be mad about. But to give an example, the very first play after a Northwestern player was carted off the field, Iowa had a 1st and 10 and the OL proceeded to false start. It’s that lack of discipline that is driving me nuts. No discipline and no fundamentals.
This is the 3rd out of 5 games that the Hawkeyes have had 5 or more penalties. And they all seem to come at the worst times or are of the 15 yard variety.
Front 7: The Iowa OL isn’t the only group I will harp on. The defensive line only generated 1 sack. 1 sack.
Not to mention, Iowa allowed 198 rushing yards. Iowa has now allowed totals of 198, 193, 239, 126, and 158 rushing yards in their games this year. 183 yards/game. Terrible. And this is without playing Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, and Nebraska. Gulp.
Not sure what else to do or say, Hawkeye fans. Here’s some advice: