Being that it’s a bye week I’d like to look back at the Illinois game and review what I thought were two things that would carry Iowa to victory. Believe me, taking even the quickest of glances back at that train wreck is not something I would freely choose to do, but as I’ve mentioned, I get paid millions of dollars to write these articles so I have no choice. With that being said, we’ll keep this weeks article short and sweet and continue to allow all of you to recover before next Saturday.
Let’s quickly review what last weeks “Stat Watch” was all about. If the Hawkeyes could go into Champagne and play a nice, discipline game, they would head back to Iowa City as victors. No need to be extraordinary on offense or defense, just discipline, which for Iowa is a usual occurrence and for Illinois, a rarity. The statistical categories that would be used to monitor how discipline the Hawkeyes were during the game were penalties and turnovers. So how did both teams stack up against one another?
Iowa: 1 (INT)
Illinois: 3 (2 Fumbles, 1 INT)
It should be disturbing to Hawkeye fans that Iowa won this component of the game decisively and still lost the ball game. Illinois did exactly what they always seemingly do in big games, attempt to give it away. Still, each Illini turnover was forced.
- The muffed punt is the result of Jack Campbell hustling his tail off down field to make a tackle and therefore being in the right spot at the right time. If I were the kick returner and I saw Campbell running full steam and unabated towards me, I would have both fumbled AND soiled myself, so let’s give that kid a brake for doing just one of those.
- The fumble leading to an Iowa field goal was a great play by Riley Moss. Moss laid out Illinois’ best receiver and Seth Benson put on a clinic on how to recover a fumble. That play should have in the end resulted in six points but it only yielded three.
- Lastly, the pick by Shulte inside the 10 yard line was a result of mainly a horrible decision by the Illini QB, but also a descent pass rush put on by Van Ness. In total, those turnovers should have led to at least a ten point swing with the fumble recovery leading to a TD and the pick saving at least a field goal.
However, Iowa only mustered a field goal off the fumble and that was a sequence you could look at and say, “thats where Iowa lost”. Iowa’s only turnover came when Spencer Petras had the ball jostled in his hand while releasing it down field late leading to a pick. I’m not going to sit here and say he should have stepped up more, we all know at this point he is who he is.
Iowa: 8 Penalties for 67 yards
Illinois: 7 Penalties for 56 yards
This was so disheartening. A football team does not win on the road when surrendering 67 yards to its opposition through penalties. And to have eight in the game is horrendous. Each and every one of them seemingly came at the worst possible moments. False starts and holding calls continue to be killing momentum (if you call it that) on offense. I understand that some of these holding penalties have been atrocious but if you stink as bad as Iowa’s o line does at the moment, it’s going to look weird if a back all of a sudden has ample room to run or the defense fails to get a pass rush. In baseball great pitchers get the benefit of the doubt while young guys and bad performers hardly get any calls. The same seems to apply to this years offensive line.
I won’t force you to rehash that pathetic performance any longer. It’d be best for all of us to probably just flush it from our memory and move on. Hopefully our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes do the same. I don’t know what the strategy is during the bye week. It’s not enough time to revamp the offense the way that is necessary to see success. I would assume the fundamentals will be preached all week. Will that be enough to beat Ohio. St? Heck no. But at this point, if the Hawkeyes can go into Columbus and just play a clean football game, maybe that can be something to build off of.