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IOWA 45, ILLINOIS 16: THE MORNING AFTER

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What went right and what went wrong.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve woken up on a Sunday following an Iowa win. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

And while the Hawkeyes should feel pretty good about their performance on Homecoming, there’s still some work that needs to be done as Iowa heads into the bye. For a thorough recap of the game, our boy HelloJerry has you covered. Right here we’ll just go over what worked, what didn’t, and some other musings.

What went right

  • The defense, for the most part. Holding any team to 16 points is no small feat, the skill-level of the opponent be damned. Josey Jewell had 10 tackles (1 for a loss) despite missing a series with an injury. Bo Bower had 10 stops as well, and Amani Hooker had himself a GAME. Hooker, making his third career start, had 6 tackles, an interception and a friggin’ converted fake punt

The interception, really, could not have come at a better time. Illinois was driving and had a touchdown called back on the previous play. It helped keep the wind out of Illinois’ sails and provided a spark for an Iowa offense that needed a whole bunch of fire-starter at that point in the game.

  • The offensive line probably played its best game of the season. One certainly has to take into account the competition, but the Hawkeyes made some major adjustments prior to the game and they should hopefully pay dividends in the long-run.

Sean Welsh finally has moved back to his natural spot on the interior, and true freshman manchild Tristan Wirfs is at right tackle. There’s gonna be a learning curve, but I think we should be impressed with what we saw, especially in the pass-blocking game. Iowa had just under 200 rushing yards, and Wadley ended the day with 115 yards on the ground. Again, we have to be looking at the competition here, but with the way Iowa had been running the ball I think we’ll take this as a win.

Iowa’s pass-blocking continued to be the strength of the unit. Nate Stanley got sacked once, and that was due to a missed block by Wadley. I don’t recall him getting pressured too much, especially in the second half. I do remember Stanley running out of the pocket despite decent blocking more than once. The results of Stanley throwing on the run were not good.

  • And welcome back Brandon Snyder! The vocal leader of Iowa’s defensive backfield returned for his first game back after tearing his ACL in April, and was a bright spot alongside Hooker.

We are glad to have him back.

What went wrong

  • The defensive line really seemed to struggle to get any pressure. Iowa had just one sack, and that was due to Anthony Nelson just being really good. When Iowa tries to bring pressure with just a four-man rush ... man. Not great. AJ Epenesa is getting some solid time, but it’s still not enough.

As a result of the poor pressure, Iowa’s corners were getting picked apart. Jeff George Jr. was able to carve at will; luckily, turnovers and Iowa’s elite overall defense stopped any significant blood from being drawn.

  • What are we gonna do about the punting situation? Ryan Gersonde got his redshirt pulled for this game and ... he averaged 37.7 yards on three punts. One punt went for 31 yards. He doesn’t seem to be an improvement over Colton Rastetter at this point. Is it time to give Recinos a look? Nate Stanley averaged 40 yards a punt in high school. That’s obviously an overreaction, but I mean I just don’t see Iowa’s punters getting any better.

Musings

  • Nathan Stanley had one or two overthrows, but he also had some real pretty passes. One overthrow led to an interception, just his second of the year to go along with 15 touchdowns. There were calls for Wiegers to go in after Stanley’s arm-punt, and while those people did get their wish, it was under different circumstances.
  • I’m not sure how to file this, but I don’t like the attitude the Iowa players and coaches exhibited early in the game. Iowa’s offense was sluggish early on and didn’t seem like it wanted to be there. Then, Iowa pulls out a fake punt and an onside kick. That’s the kind of stuff huge underdogs whip out against superior competition. Iowa’s talent is so much greater than that of Illinois’ that it shouldn’t have to bring that garbage out.
  • Overall, I would say I was pleased with Iowa’s play-calling.
  • I just don’t understand exclusively using Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin on the first drive, and then putting them in a drawer for the rest of the game. I know IKM had the fumble, but Young is the perfect change-of-pace to spell Wadley. I was glad IKM got the garbage time TD. Shows he probably isn’t in Kirk Ferentz’s Doghouse Brought to you by Jonathan Parker.
  • The bye week is coming at a good time. This team has a lot of work if it wants to assemble any sort of run in the West, and I think a lot of it is fixable in practice. Plus we should be getting James Butler back in two weeks.
  • Where is Ihmir Smith-Marsette?

What did I miss?