Reader Beware: I write these recaps in real time. As I’m sure you can imagine, this WILL read like an emotional diary of one of the best El Assico’s in the history of El Assico. I need a drink.
For the second week in a row, the Iowa offense looked sketchy on their opening drive under new Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz. With the Cyclones selling out to overload the box (go figure), the Hawkeyes tried to power their way through it; that plan worked as much as Jacob Park’s perm.
After the quick three and out, Iowa State stretched out the Iowa defense with Park hitting Marchie Murdock on two straight plays for 45-total yards to put the Cyclones in the redzone. You know where the ball went from there. Park hit Allen Lazard on an end zone fade that was well covered (by well covered, I mean that Manny Rugamba looked like a toddler compared to the future NFL wideout and defended him as such).
The feeling I got from this drive was one I thought I suppressed back in 2014. The way Park moved the ball so effortlessly, it looked like the Hawkeyes were going to be playing in a 7-on-7 game the rest of the day.
Iowa doesn’t normally win 7-on-7, Big 12 type games. More on this way, way later.
BUT BF made a major adjustment on the second drive of the game, working the outside of the Cyclone defense with quick strikes and zone blocking plays (we even saw Akrum Wadley in the slot). Nine plays later, Nate Stanley found Nick Easley on a bubble screen for a score.
Everything was right in the world again.
The first half went back and forth but not in the scoring touchdowns sense. Instead, both teams seemed to have decided it would be fun to play football Simon Says. When one team took a step forward, so would the other. When one team decided to take two steps back, the other followed suit.
Despite the return of BF’s “Do what we do” offense and the defense giving Park all the time in the world on first and second down (Seriously though, why isn’t the third down lineup with Maui playing more? They’re the only ones that seem to get pressure through the first two games.) Iowa managed to hold Iowa State to a field goal on a drive that looked destined to end with six on the board (That PI against Rugamba was trash. The only person that had a shot at catching that ball was a Cyclone cheerleaders).
With a little over six minutes left in the half, Iowa desperately needed to put together a long drive to keep Iowa State on the sidelines. BF scrapped the “Make Dad Happy” offense and went back to what worked. Despite Nate Stanley missing a streaking Noah Fant on the left sideline, there was no stopping the two-headed monster in BUTWAD:
The offensive line really came together for this drive (despite the hold on James Daniels) which allowed Stanley to deliver what just might be one of the prettiest balls he’ll throw all season:
Three years playing against Iowa State and three total touchdowns for the Meerkat. Bravo sir.
14-10 Hawkeyes at the half.
Coming out of the break, BF went back to the “Playbook that Shall Not Be Named” (I told you it was one foot forward, two steps back) and with the Cyclones on the ropes, Iowa was forced to punt after going three and out.
I’m going to touch on this here, because it seems like the perfect place to do it. While, yes, I do still believe in BF as a play caller, it was a rollercoaster ride watching him train on the job today. All of Iowa’s touchdown drives had similar play calling that looked pretty and effortless. Why go away from those concepts?
Anyways, Iowa of course came out ready to roll after taking a giant dump on the field the drive before and capped off (yet again) a beautiful 94-yard drive with this:
You know what happened next.
Iowa State scores on Lazard’s second score of the day (damn), BF and the Iowa offense sputter on offense, the Cyclones score after going for it on 4th-and-1 ANDDDDDD on Iowa’s fourth possession of the quarter, they go three-and-out for the third time.
24-21 at the end of the third.
It was ugly in every single phase from there forward. The Iowa defense got zero pressure on first and second down (Park had all day, all day long), the coaching staff didn’t make any adjustments to change that (As SMA and I discussed on Twitter today, why not just put all four of your defensive ends along the line on all three downs and see if that works?), the defensive backs couldn’t cover Matt Campbell on or off Advocare (How bad was Wyoming’s play makers?) and everyone decided that solid, form tackling would give them dysentery.
Iowa couldn’t even punt right... THEY COULDN’T PUNT GUYS!
To start the fourth, much was the same. David Montgomery looked like a carbon copy of UNI’s David Johnson, bowling over wimpy Iowa defenders (including The Outlaw) when he didn’t straight up juke them out of their cleats. For a team that faced Wadley day in and day out during spring camp, Iowa seemed skittish when it came to getting a body on this dude.
Speaking of, Wadley, not to be out done by anyone, decided to raise Montgomery all in on yet another 90-yard drive that ended with ISM proving why he was never long for the DJK-House:
Things went into overdrive from there.
On the next Cyclone drive, Park threw a pick to Parker Hesse. Of course, Iowa couldn’t punch it in and elected for a field goal to tie the game at 31-a piece. A pissed off Park went banana’s on the Iowa secondary (again) for a 74-yard touchdown pass. And then Stanley (on third and loooooong) missed a wide open Noah Fant for the third time in the game.
After burning all three of their remaining timeouts and forcing the Cyclones to punt themselves, Iowa was looking another 89-yard drive right in the face. Luckily for them, they have Akrum Wadley and Akrum Wadley can do all things that are good:
This is where things get fun for me and not so fun for whatever Iowa State fan who has read this far. Iowa wins the toss, they chose to go on defense, force Iowa State to settle for a field goal... and YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT...
WALK IT OFF, ISM:
I need to take a walk with a stiff drink.