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The Morning After: Purdue

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A much needed win but unanswered questions still remain.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Iowa
Mekhi Sargent (10) rushes for a touchdown to clinch an Iowa win.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After back-to-back frustrating losses against Michigan and Penn State, Iowa gets back in the ‘Win’ column with a 26-20 victory over Purdue yesterday at a soggy Kinnick Stadium. With the win, Iowa improved to 5-2 overall and while there are still many issues that we’ll discuss below, a win in the Big Ten isn’t always easy to come by. As you probably know by now, #6 Wisconsin lost on the road to Illinois yesterday 24-23 in one of the biggest conference upsets in a long time.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Illinois
Illinois Head Coach Lovie Smith has the best beard.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Duncan made all four of his field goal attempts and the defense was just good enough to overcome some questionable play calling and a costly turnover. Coach Phil Parker was noticeably upset with his defensive backfield and I’m confident that there will be improvements there over the rest of the season.

Parker was upset that Purdue WR David Bell, a true freshman and incredible talent, was able to get behind the defense and make play after play. The defensive line needs to be able to get more pressure on the quarterback and keep containment so that talents like Bell don’t have time to do damage. Perhaps more blitzes are the answer.

As for the offense, they are still perplexing and I’m not as confident that there will be improvements here like I am the defense. Iowa attempted a balanced attack with 33 passes and 32 runs but the timing and sequencing of those attempts didn’t always make sense. Often, the play was either too predictable, like running left on a third and two, or too questionable, throwing incomplete down the field on first and ten with less than five minutes to play and with a two score lead. It’s been discussed ad nauseam, but the Ferentz’s need to honestly evaluate their offensive scheme and in-game adjustments. Being stubborn is not a way to raise up a program.

Late in the game Iowa was finally able to break the 100 yard rushing mark after a Mekhi Sargent plunge into the end zone. We were then treated to the statistics on how often Iowa wins when getting to 100 yards vs. how many times they lose when they don’t. I didn’t write it down, but I think it was something like 40-0 when getting 100 yards and 0-15 when they didn’t (slight embellishment intended).

Other things to note:

  • The severity of injury to Brandon Smith is going to be a big factor going forward. Smith had a great game with nine catches for 106 yards before getting hurt.
  • The only sack of the game was recorded by John Waggoner, his first of his career. The Purdue line kept A.J. Epenesa pretty silent.
  • Geno Stone likes to hit people. He may not be the “hitman” but within the rules that are now in place, he hits about as well as he can.
  • Excellent pancake block from Mark Kallenberger. Hopefully this is a big confidence boost for him.
  • Horrible false start call on Iowa on fourth and two when Purdue made contact with Tyler Linderbaum’s helmet. A correct call there and the final score is probably much more realistic to how the game was playing out.
  • What games will Iowa be favored in moving forward? My guesses: Northwestern -2, Wisconsin +10, Minnesota +3, Illinois -7, Nebraska -4? Does this make sense? That would put them at 8-4 (like usual) but I could see anything from 9-3 to 7-5.