Sunday morning started off rather well in Roseville, Minnesota. My brother was up from Iowa and we feasted on eggs and a big ol’ pile of bacon. Bacon is always good. There’s just something about bacon after beating the Gophers that makes it “real nice, Clark.”
It was not a pretty football game. Iowa’s offense did just enough and for the second weekend in a row Iowa’s defense missed a number of tackles. Iowa is built to grind out football games and win by the narrowest of margins. It can be frustrating, but I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty. The Gophers doubled up the Hawks on time of possession, 40 minutes to 20 minutes. We had a hard time stopping the run. I’m glad Pajamas Fleck went away from that. Also, the Head Rower kicked a few field goals where I felt they had momentum and we would have had a hard time stopping them. Thanks, PJ! On to our grades.
The Alex Padilla era may have started. Iowa did not allow a sack and part of that can be attributed to Padilla’s ability to move around. I’ve written in the past that he has a little bit of a “wiggle” to him. Normally that’s not a word you would attribute to a quarterback, but I feel like it pertains to Padilla. On the day Padilla was 11/24 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He had a few balls dropped. Padilla did throw two balls that should have been intercepted. He looked confident and made some nice throws. Iowa’s playcalling looks better with Padilla back there than Spencer Petras. I would be surprised if Petras goes back into the starting lineup these last two games.
Tyler Goodson had a quiet day. He rushed 18 times for 59 yards (3.3). His long rush was for 12 yards. Gavin Williams had just one carry for 4 yards.
Charlie Jones and Keagan Johnson have become our top two threats at the wideout position. They both impacted the game in a huge way on Saturday. Jones caught two balls for 106 yards and a touchdown.-
Keagan Johnson went all Superman on two Gophers with the play of the day.
Johnson ended up with 2 catches for 34 yards and a score. It’s pretty exciting that the Hawkeyes have had two true freshmen make plays of the week the past two games (Bruce’s second-effort TD vs. Northwestern). Nico Ragaini caught one ball on a 13 yard play but he coughed it up. Without this turnover I’d have given this position group an A-.
Iowa’s tight end room doesn’t quite have the explosiveness of a George Kittle, Noah Fant, or TJ Hockenson. Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey will be good ones, but Iowa has changed our offense a little more to get the ball in the hands of our younger playmakers including Kegan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV. LaPorta had 3 catches for 34 yards. Lachey was targeted once for no catches. Josiah Miamen hit the transfer portal this week. My guess is that we have some up=and-comers that are pushing for playing time.
The Hawkeye offensive line did not give up a sack. That’s progress. Mason Richman missed the game due to injury. Plugging in a different tackle can sometimes lead to the floodgates opening up for defensive ends. That was not the case against the Gophers. The Hawkeyes rushed 25 times for 71 yards (2.8). That has to be better.
Iowa’s defensive line made some big plays when it mattered. On the day it felt like the Gophers’ offensive line had their way with our front four. Minnesota rushed 50 times for 189 yards (3.8). It felt like the Gophers could pick up 5-6 yards every time they wanted. I was happy Fleck got away from the run a little bit. Zach VanValkenburg had 10 tackles, including 1 sack, 3 TFL’s, and 1 QBH. Joe Evans made a nice play forcing a fumble to foil the chance for the Gophers to convert a Hail Mary.
Logan Lee had a nice game collecting five tackles, a pass breakup, and a blocked field goal (video below).
Jack Campbell, hopefully he has more than 3 games left in his Hawkeye career, continues to be a bad, bad man for the Hawkeyes’ defense. Campbell had 17, yes 17, tackles on the day. Seth Benson collected 7 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and 1 QBH. Jestin Jacobs had 4 tackles. The Hawks uncharacteristically missed tackles that they normally don’t miss. Credit does need to be given to the Rodents, however.
The Hawkeyes got cornerback Riley Moss back. He had a quiet day and that is often a good thing for a corner. Matt Hankins had 10 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Hankins did get beat on a double move that went for 68 yards and a score. Dane Belton made a terrific play knocking down an important two point conversion for the Gophers that would have tied the game at 24.
Special Teams: A
It was another nice game for LeVar Woods’ special teams units. Caleb Shudak hit field goals from 50 and 29 yards; he also was 3 for 3 on extra points. Tory Taylor punted 5 times for an excellent average of 45.6 yards, including 2 inside the 20. Logan Lee made the special teams play of the day blocking a long Gopher field goal attempt.
Next week: Illinois
I’m on the record for being a fan of Illinois coach Bret Bielema. I think he is a terrific Big Ten football coach. He understands big boy football and he will recruit his type of players to make Illinois a tough out in the West. The Hawkeyes will have their work cut out for them to give themselves a chance to make the Big Ten Championship Game. It will be nice to have another home start for Alex Padilla before the final regular season game against Nebby. The Hawkeyes have not had a convincing win in quite some time. Let’s make that happen this week, Hawkeyes! As always, Go Hawks!