College football wasn’t supposed to start this way. Things were supposed to be fun and easy and healthy and in favor of the home team despite having to shut down a soon-to-be top NFL draft pick. But as is life as an Iowa Hawkeye alumni and fan, fun and easy and healthy aren’t luxuries we tend to experience.
As the docile grey skies filled the Jersey Shore with rain to ruin my bike ride up to Browns Doughnuts, Twitter started blowing up with even more bad news. Rumors turned into #facts that left all of us wondering how Kirk Ferentz and his squad was going to fare against a scrappy defense without the likes of James Daniels (lower back issues) and Boone Myers (has been banged up all spring) on the offensive line.
This seemed to be an omen.
The first quarter with two spare wheels, a brand new coordinator and a sophomore quarterback with little experience started off as well as anyone could have guessed. Iowa rushed for 40-yards, threw for a whopping zero, gave up a fumble (Ihmir Smith-Marsette welcome to the DJK Dog House of Doom) and Nathan (he’s Nathan when he’s bad) Stanley threw a weird pick after getting popped in the face after Alaric Jackson, on fill in duty, missed a big time blitz pick up.
Welcome to the big time, kid.
Much was the same in the second quarter despite the appearance of points on the board. It was clear that Stanley had the jitters and still needs to develop the overall feel of pressure in both his face and his backside (another fumble lost, this time by Stanley), but as James Butler and Akrum Wadley instinctively pounded the rock through the Wyoming defense, Iowa started gaining some much needed momentum. Momentum that Brian Ferentz and Kirk Ferentz capitalized on after electing to go for a touchdown on 4th and 1. It turns out that Noah Fant is an exceptional weapon to have around the goal line. Who would’ve known?
I type all of this and I realize that I’ve absolutely buried the lede as the Iowa defense was so stout, so dominant and so aggressive that Wyoming (i.e. future #1 NFL draft pick, Josh Allen) looked rather confused and that was without their top corner.
In fact, Wyoming was so confused that things like this happened:
Greatest qb prospect ever with the awareness rating of 0 pic.twitter.com/tuUhoiKwbm— Josh Mensch (@JoshMenschNFL) September 2, 2017
And, of course, the greatest whiff of all time:
That giant mistake led to Fant’s second (count ‘em, Max) touchdown of the day after he scooted up the seam for the prettiest pitch and catch that I’ve ever seen in my entire life:
Nothing was the same after that. Iowa only led 14-3 at half, but it felt like they were oddly in control (thanks in much part to Josey Jewell and Jake Gervase making plays all over the field).
To start the second half, Stanley threw for another touchdown (Nick Easley is a first team All American on Team Effort). He also fumbled again. Allen finally got a streaker down the field, threw a dime that easily made NFL GM’s and their scouts lose their marbles over that was ultimately bobbled in the endzone (that drive ended with a major Aguayo).
21-3 for the extremely balanced Hawkeyes.
Speaking of Allen, you can see what NFL GM’s and their scouts lose their minds over. But it was hard for me to be overly impressed. Maybe it was the Iowa defense he faced (who has apparently been hanging out in Clark Griswald’s camper together all fall) that made him uncomfortable. Maybe it was his receivers not giving him much help. Maybe it was the play calling that suspiciously kept him from throwing down field; keeping everything in front of the young Iowa secondary. Either way, only scoring three points against what everyone thought would be a suspect secondary is not first overall pick worthy.
Especially when you force things like this:
Josh Allen made this play more difficult.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 2, 2017
Why leave that pocket and throw off your back foot? pic.twitter.com/y4orROgTdi
When it was all said and done, Iowa took care of their business. It wasn’t pretty yet so pretty all at the same time (I know that doesn’t make sense, but I think you all know what I mean). There are PLENTY of teachable moments (someone please give Stanley the remedy for Petey Jones Syndrome) that Iowa should be able to build on before Hate Week begins.
I think we all can agree though that there was plenty of things to get excited over as we all enjoy a few adult beverages.
Keep on campin’, folks. Enjoy the rest of your victory, back-to-football Saturday. May the lines be ever in your favor.