Wait, where am I? What day is it? What happened? What year is it?
Saturday has me asking these questions and so many more. Unfortunately, the only question I certainly know the answer to is “what day is it?” It’s Monday. It feels like Monday. The start of another long week and for the first time since 2014, Hawkeye fans get to sit through a work week with the taste of a regular season loss in their mouth. Yuck.
1. Is this 2010 all over again?
Iowa came into this season with the most hype they’ve had since 2010. Following the success of last season and the return of a large chunk of the group that led them to said success, the general consensus was that this was a team destined to walk into Indy and play for a chance at the playoff. I’m not going to go into all the detail on how those types of expectations ended in 2010, but suffice it to say it wasn’t great. Iowa has a history of not meeting high expectations and far exceeding low ones (see last year). Normally I’d say I’m taking a wait and see approach, but it’s overreaction Monday. This season is doomed. This is
possibly probably definitely 2010 all over again. I’m closing my eyes and plugging my ears until January.
2. Soft as Baby Sh!t
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I was playing football I had a coach who used to scream at me that I was soft as baby sh!t. As a father, I’ve seen baby sh!t. Lot’s of it. In retrospect I probably was pretty soft. But not near as soft as Iowa looked in the trenches Saturday. We listened to comments all week about not sleeping on the Bison and going into this game prepared. I hope it was BS. If that was prepared, I’m really, really nervous about Big Ten play. Iowa got owned at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and it scares the hell out of me. Seriously, newborn downing a mixture of Indian and Mexican cuisine soft. Unreal.
3. A-krum-y Day
OK, I’m not @Adam_Jacobi. Never will be. But that one was too easy not to throw out there. I won’t make a habit of it, promise. Honestly though, that was a crummy day running the ball. Without the Akrum. Wadley got 4 carries. Four. There is literally no excuse for that. Akrum is our biggest game-breaker. The running game looked like garbage the whole day and Iowa’s best shot at breaking one big got 4 carries. The only possible excuse could be that he got his in the passing game. Not so. One catch for 7 yards. I just don’t get it. Iowa’s running game has looked nearly unstoppable all season. The infant fecal matter feel of the offensive line aside, Iowa should have been able to muster more than 34 rushing yards. I good first start would’ve been getting Wadley the rock at least twice as many times as they did.
4. The Defense is Scary
Not scary good, just scary. Mabin got picked on week one and I was a little worried. There was no pressure on Miami’s QB and I kind of wrote it off as playing with a fresh centerpiece in the defense with Jewell out. Things looked much better against ISU and I breathed a sigh of relief. After Saturday, I’m panicked again. Not because the Hawkeyes gave up 23 points, in a normal week I think the offense easily throws up enough points to make up for that. But the way NDSU was able to impose their will on Iowa’s defense scares the living hell out of me for the rest of this year. Iowa gave up 239 yards on the ground Saturday. That shouldn’t happen against a Big Ten opponent. The fact that it happened against an FCS opponent when we heard all week about how the Hawkeyes weren’t taking this one lightly is a scary thought.
5. Fire Ferentz!
I’ve been fairly vocal in my stance that Iowa coaches are worth whatever the hell Gary Barta decides to pay them. Then came the contract extension. I don’t care about the money (again, Iowa has the money, spend it) but I had serious questions about the timing and some of the provisions (the length, the incentive piece, the buyout, etc.). Those questions were put on the back burner when Kirk, for once in his 18 year career, throttled Iowa State last week. I sat here last Monday comparing New Kirk to Old Hayden Fry. New Kirk apparently died over the last week. Old Kirk reared his ugly head again against NDSU and I honestly uttered the phrase “fire Ferentz” at one point. All the aggression we’ve seen over the last year-plus disappeared down the stretch. After the Bison opted to go for 2 to take the win (which was absolutely the right call given what they had to gain vs. lose with being on the road in a game you were projected to lose by two scores), Old Kirk responds by running three straight times. Iowa had 23 rushes the whole game. The running game flat out wasn’t working (partially because they didn’t get Wadley any work or try to test the edges at all) and in a situation where the opponent is expecting you to try to ram it down your throat, you play right into their hand. Three. Straight. Times. I don’t actually know what happened after that point. I turned it off. As soon as Iowa went back into it’s shell, I knew all was lost. if Old Kirk is back for good, I’m back on the fire Ferentz bandwagon. If it was a fluke and the staff learns from that shit show, maybe it is a blessing in disguise and we can step back from the ledge in the coming weeks. But it’s Iowa, I don’t know that we’ll ever be more than a few steps from the ledge.
6. The Big Ten is the Best Conference
It’s not close right now. And it’s just adding insult to injury. With the spotlight on, Iowa crapped down it’s leg, again. Meanwhile, the rest of the conference looked fantastic this weekend. OSU demolished Oklahoma. Michigan throttled Colorado. Michigan State held on against Notre Dame. Wisconsin escaped against someone worse than NDSU. Nebraska knocked off Oregon. Even Northwestern got in the win column. In total, the Big Ten has 6 ranked teams in the Coaches Poll (which is what I choose to go with - I get that most people quote the AP, but it’s as much of a shit show as Iowa football was Saturday; for example, the AP has 2 teams with losing records in the top 25 ahead of Iowa). More importantly, the Big Ten has 2 teams in the top 5, 4 in the top 10 and 5 in the top 20. The SEC has 1 top 10 team. The ACC has 2, Pac 12 has 2, AAC has 1 and the Big 12 has 0. The Big Ten is head and shoulders above the rest right now.
7. The Future is Bright
Saturday was terrible. I’m doing my best to wipe it from my memory. But the future is still bright in Iowa City. Maybe not the rest of this year, at least not in the way most of us imagined, but in the years to come. Iowa added another commitment late last week in 6’4” Texas WR Beau Corralles and the recruiting class is up to #22 nationally. Not quite OSU-level, but a hell of a lot better than what we’ve become accustomed to here. And the guys already in the fold can play some ball. There’s a full recruiting recap coming your way later today, but Iowa commits scored over 16 touchdowns last weekend. And that’s just the ones from Texas. Moreover, only 4 are recruited to play offense and 1 was on a bye. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the future will be bright indeed.
Note: Full disclosure here, I have not and will not watch a second of the game from Saturday. Some family stuff kept me away from Kinnick as well as my TV set. I caught the 4th quarter via Dolph and Podalak, but turned it off during Iowa’s final drive as I couldn’t listen to the inevitable. So maybe I’m way off and Iowa looked great Saturday and the Bison are just a top 10 FBS team. I hope so. But I don’t think so.