Nobody in their right mind expected the Iowa Hawkeyes to go into Columbus and escape with a win last week. Nobody. Few people thought the Hawkeyes would even cover the enormous 30-point spread Vegas settled on before game time. So why did it feel so bad watching the Hawkeyes do exactly what we all expected and get absolutely trounced by perhaps the best team in the country?
The answer, like that to almost every question so far this season, is the offense. We knew it was bad, but we reached new lows on Saturday. For the second time this year, the Hawkeyes recorded fewer than 200 total yards. For the first time since the “trick or treat Iowa City” game in 2009 and just the second time in the Sports-Reference database, the Hawkeyes turned the ball over six times on Saturday. For the fourth time this season, the Hawkeyes scored 10 or fewer points. That marks the 12th time in the Brian Ferentz era (compared to 19 times over the prior 18 seasons under Ken O’Keefe and Greg Davis). The offense also failed to score a touchdown for the third time this season, marking the 7th time that has occurred in 5 seasons under BF (vs 11 times in the 18 years prior).
Put simply, the day was infuriating because once again the offense was abysmal (as expected at this point) but the defense showed they were actually capable of making things a game if the offense was just remotely competent. They, of course, were not.
And so you might expect some sort of changes going forward. Or at least you might if you were a fan of any other program. As Kirk Ferentz was quick to point out in his postgame remarks, while he was open to finally changing quarterbacks at halftime on Saturday, he is not under any circumstances open to changing anything with his coaching staff until offseason evaluations can be done. Oh, and that part about Brian reporting to athletic director Gary Barta and him being responsible for the evaluation of BF? Yeah, that ruse ended in the postgame comments as well.
So we turn to homecoming week with not change in staff on the horizon and the only real question being whether Kirk will stick with the changes that were made mid-game against the juggernaut that is Ohio State. The Hawkeyes released their depth chart for the matchup with Northwestern on Monday and the short answer at this point appears to be: maybe?
- The elephant in the room is that nice new “OR” listed between Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla. After going just 6 of 14 for an abysmal 49 yards with two interceptions (including a pick six), start Spencer Petras was benched for Alex Padilla in week 8. Padilla promptly fumbled his first snap of the season (ending Iowa’s streak as the last team in the nation to give a second QB a rep this season) before settling in to finish 5 of 10 for 32 yards and an interception. Much like last season, we saw that as bad as Petras was, Padilla wasn’t markedly better. So what’s the upside to changing? Well, with an offensive line as bad as Iowa’s, having someone capable of evading a sloth allows for a glimmer of hope at success when things are off script. Whether Brian and Kirk Ferentz finally opt to give that a shot this week remains to be seen as that OR means about as much as Loui Stec’s weight at this point.
- Elsewhere, Diante Vines officially makes his debut on the depth chart after finally seeing the field in Columbus. He caught one pass for 5 yards in the contest, but notably he makes it a full four for four now in terms of wide receivers listed on the depth chart who are on a scholarship. That’s a first this season. Still no sign of Keagan Johnson...
- Up front, Jack Plumb has taken the place of Matt Fagan as backup right tackle. That checks out given Plumb replaced starter Connor Colby against OSU. Colby had been a literal revolving door in the pass game. Plumb wasn’t perfect, but as with Padilla it’s also hard to say it was worse. He’s now listed as the backup at both tackle spots. Again, we’ll see who actually starts Saturday because there is clearly some competitive advantage to be had in not telling anyone what you are doing ahead of time don’t ya know?
- On the defensive side of the ball, the only real change here is they stopped listing Cooper DeJean in two spots. Sebastian Castro has been the cash with DeJean playing corner in place of the injured Terry Roberts and this week’s depth chart reflects that (he was previously listed as “OR” with CDJ). With Castro at cash, Reggie Bracy is now the backup at SS behind Kaevon Merriweather.
And that’s it for this week. It’s nice to actually see some changes on paper, even if they aren’t necessarily indicative of anything changing on Saturday. If nothing else, there is some mild hope that things could be different. Hope is a dangerous thing.