That … that wasn’t fun.
Iowa was thoroughly outclassed in just about every facet of the game, dooming fans to ring in another new year by watching the Hawkeyes get embarrassed on national TV for the fourth time in a row.
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over several minor things that built up to one major stink bomb of a game—poor officiating, putrid play-calling, decision to keep a clearly unhealthy C.J. Beathard in the game—and all those things considered, Iowa was lucky to still be within two scores of the Gators going into the fourth quarter.
Is there anything good to glean from this performance? Not really. Is the sky falling? Probably not. But maybe! All in all, this was a bad game and Kirk Ferentz and Co. should feel bad. Unfortunately all seats on the staff seem to be as cool as the other side of the pillow at this time.
What went right
Starting the game on the right foot: Iowa’s defense didn’t get hit square in the mouth to start the game, and forced a turnover on consecutive possessions. As opposed to getting kicked in the groin right away in whatever bowl we played in last year, this year’s start was preferable. Iowa’s bowl preparation was a much talked-about topic leading up to this game; obviously there’s still some work to do there. At least it looks like Iowa’s defense came ready to play. That leads to our next takeaway …
The defense: I’ve seen a lot of comments directed negatively towards Phil Parker, and I don’t really understand it. His unit bailed Iowa out countless times over the past couple years, and I believe he’s largely to thank for Kirk Ferentz’s cemented status as Iowa’s head coach. The defense—which played a couple of warm bodies in the secondary—is the only reason Iowa had any chance throughout this game.
Akrum Wadley: Yeah, he’s pretty good. This was only the second game all year where Wadley saw 20+ carries. The other game was Michigan. How Iowa hasn’t established him more in its offensive gameplan is nothing short of roster malpractice. Wadley accounted for over 60 percent of Iowa’s offense, amassing over 140 yards on the ground and through the air. We better hope he sticks around for next year.
What went wrong
The playcalling: this was bad and Greg Davis should have been left in Tampa for the effort he put on the field. Seriously, you have a month to practice for this game and you come up with the exact same stuff that you’ve been running the past four years? The goal line play call on fourth down is a fireable offense in itself. That was telegraphed from the start. Iowa is 0-4 in its bowl games under Davis and is averaging just 15 points in those contests. Something has to give here.
After the game, Florida coach Jim McElwain even said they knew the call on that fourth down run. That’s not great.
Keeping CJ Beathard in the game: listen, I love CJ as much as the next guy, but keeping him in after he got lit up on a scramble to set up Iowa for the aforementioned goal line-stuffing was a hazard to not only his health but also Iowa’s chances to win the game. I understand he told Ferentz he wasn’t going to leave his last game as a Hawkeye, but that’s not his call to make. There are coaches for a reason. Kirk has been around long enough to know when someone is a danger to his own health by playing. Really just a bad look all-around.
Lots of other things: the offensive line play wasn’t great, and I mean can we have a receiver get any sort of separation? The run game was working early on, which one might assume would lead to Iowa opening up its playbook, but nope! There were definitely some questionable moments in officiating, but nothing so bad as the 2006 game. Also this:
Florida players said they felt Iowa quit after pick in the 3Q. Second time we've heard that about Iowa this year (PSU). How could they tell?— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) January 2, 2017
We can only hope that quote lights a fire within Kirk the way
Bo Pelini’s Shawn Eichorst’s comments about the state of Iowa’s program after the 2014 Heroes game, but who knows.
Was this season a failure? I’m not sure. This is a team that beat an excellent Michigan squad and thumped Nebraska. It also lost to an FCS school, Northwestern and got absolutely shellacked by Penn State. I think a win over the Gators might have left a sweeter taste in our mouths when recalling this year’s campaign, but all in all I think it’s safe to say that 8-5 is not our standard.