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Iowa Football: A Statistical Look at the Offense During the Ferentz Era

We do a deep dive into Iowa’s points and yards on offense during the Ferentz era, how it has changed over the years under various coordinators, and how it compares to the average FBS team. Some of the results may surprise you. Most will not.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

As the dust settles on Iowa’s 2021 football season, we pause to consider the constants in our lives: death, taxes, and underwhelming Iowa offenses.

Fan discontentment with Iowa’s offensive schema is the background ionizing radiation of the program, and the unit of measure is the “Davis.” A “Davis” is an angry Tweet sent within 24 hours after an Iowa football game in which a fan demands either the firing of the offensive coordinator or the benching of the starting quarterback. There is a natural level of this background radiation that is omnipresent in all college football programs, regardless of how good the offense actually is, and for Iowa, it typically runs at about 150-200 Davises in the fall, with a predictable spike each year to a range of 1.0-1.5 kiloDavises (kD) after the Wisconsin game. But, this year, BHGP scientists have observed unusually elevated levels in excess of 2.0 kD for most of the second half of the season.

It turns out that when your favorite team routinely trots out an offense that offers about as much alacrity and excitement as a three-hour traffic jam, you eventually run out of patience. These warts are often overlooked when the team is winning games regardless, but the Hawkeyes ended this season the same way as their last Big 10 Championship run: on a two game slide, including an embarrassing blowout before a national audience in which Iowa’s offensive tendencies provoked befuddled remarks from disinterested commentators about the Hawkeyes’ stubborn blandness and brazen insistence upon doing just enough to fail:

So, it’s not just us.

After the Citrus Bowl, I decided to sit down with my abacus, clay tablet, and a willow reed, and puzzle through the mercurial mysteries of this offensive schema. Is it as bad on paper as it is on television? Is our annoyance justified? Join me on a mathematical tour of the Iowa offense during the Kirk Ferentz era in a three-part video series in which we examine Iowa’s offensive output in both points and yards as compared to the NCAA FBS average, how it has changed over the years through various coordinators, and whether there is cause for optimism in the future.

One production note: in the first video, I brought up a Word document with my notes, which I found distracting while reviewing, plus it has some ideas for future posts that I’d like to keep under my hat for the moment, so I’ve blurred it out. It’s only on screen for a few minutes.

Video 1 of 3

Video 2 of 3

Video 3 of 3

Please let me know if you like/watch/enjoy this type of video/format or if you’d prefer to just have it laid out in writing.