Welp... a win is a win. Iowa earned their first victory of the season (and their 13th straight regular season win) over Miami University on Saturday. It wasn’t always pretty, but at the end of the day, there are no pictures on the scoreboard. The most upsetting development from Saturday: Josey Jewell’s targeting call and subsequent ejection is going to make it extremely difficult for me to get him elected President of the United States. Admit it: you still want to vote for him anyway.
On Friday we discussed the keys to this game. Before we look forward to Iowa State, it’s time to look back to see what we learned in the Hawkeyes’ Week 1 matchup with Miami.
Make Plays or Die
Opposing teams are going to have trouble stopping Thunder (LeShun Daniels) and catching Lightning (Akrum Wadley) when the Hawks come to town. Iowa has found a tandem of running backs that should give opposing defenses fits for the rest of the season. Wadley and Daniels combined for 204 yards on the ground on only 22 carries and four total touchdowns. Splitting the reps should help each of these guys stay healthy and fresh throughout the new nine-game B1G season. And who doesn’t love a good thunderstorm?
Iowa had a couple of players with good statistical days (Beathard was 13/20 for 192 yards, while VandBerg caught 4 passes for 99 yards), but I am still left wondering who is going to stretch the field. Jerminic Smith hauled in a 38 yard toss off a flea-flicker, but that was the only notable attempt that Iowa made at throwing the ball down the field. I expected WR Jay Scheel to be the deep threat for the Hawkeyes, but he was held out with a pulled quad as a precautionary measure. The deep threat is still a work in progress—let’s just hope Iowa has one.
Iowa Runs on Munchkin
The Hawkeyes had to break-in a new kicker on Saturday—true freshman Keith Duncan. My first observation from watching Duncan was how little he is!! He looks like a 5th-grader who got thrown into the game with all the 8th-graders. After seeing this video of Penn State’s starting kicker, Joey Julius, putting a hit on the Kent State return man, I’m positive that Joey Julius could eat Keith Duncan.
Duncan had a nice day, connecting on all six extra points that he attempted, while also knocking in a field goal from 22 yards. He seemed confident and clearly wasn’t shaken by the thought of playing in his first game at the collegiate level. We’ll find out more about Duncan as the season progresses, but so far, so good.
A Few Great Freshmen
As we hoped, several freshman managed to see the field on Saturday. Of the 14 freshman listed on the depth chart at the beginning of the week, there were two notable performances (with the exception of Duncan).
Anthony Nelson should be under consideration for B1G Defensive Player of the Week. He stepped up huge for in his first game as a Hawkeye, earning 2.5 sacks and forcing 2 fumbles. He showed good speed off the edge and excellent technique, using his hands on multiple occassions to swipe blockers out of his way. Nelson was an encouraging sign on a day that the rest of the defensive line struggled to put pressure on Miami quarterback Billy Bahl. The coming weeks should tell us just what we have in Anthony Nelson, but right now the thought of Nelson on one end and Hawkeye commit A.J. Epenesa on the other end has me smiling.
One other freshman of note was Manny Rugamba. Both the coaches and players had positive things to say about Rugamba prior to Saturday’s game. While he didn’t see a significant amount of playing time, it was interesting to see Rugamba sub-in for Greg Mabin on a Miami series in the fourth quarter. In the nicest way possible... Mabin didn’t have his best day. If Rugamba continues to progress, it’s not out of the question that he could overtake the starting cornerback spot opposite of Desmond King by season’s end.
What Quarterback Controversy?
WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW. I know I said that I wanted to see Nate Stanley get some game reps on Saturday, but I didn’t actually expect to see him play. Watching Stanley lead the offense onto the field late in the fourth quarter put me in a state of disbelief. It was a power move by Kirk Ferentz. He might as well have walked out to midfield, doused Nathan Stanley’s redshirt in gasoline, and set it on fire while Tyler Wiegers watched. We likely won’t see much of Stanley for the rest of the season (if we see him at all), which is why the decision to put him in the game just to hand the ball off the Derrick Mitchell can only tell us one thing: Say goodbye to your former quarterback of the future and give a big Hawkeye welcome to your 2017 starting quarterback... Nathan Stanley!
My Hits from last Friday:
“I see LeShun Daniels plowing into the endzone for the first score of the game. Akrum Wadley will add another touchdown on the ground.” Technically wrong—Wadley didn’t score just one touchdown, he scored two.
“Beathard eventually gets pulled from the game, and the Kinnick faithful erupts as the future of Iowa football, Nate Stanley, takes the field for the first time as a Hawkeye.” Called it.
“Beathard will connect with Jay Scheel for a touchdown through the air.” This would have happened if Jay Scheel wasn’t a china doll.
“Desmond King intercepts Billy Bahl (still a great name)
two three four five times.” I owe an apology to Mr. Billy Bahl.
“Keith Duncan will tack on two field goals to give the Hawks a 20-0 lead at half.” Duncan was only presented one field goal opportunity (which he made) and Iowa led 28-7 at half.
Predicted score: Iowa 37, Miami 10
Actual score: Iowa 45, Miami 21