After looking lost for most of the season, the Iowa offense got a get right game on Saturday as they demolished the Northwestern Wildcats in their most impressive offensive outing of the season. The Hawkeyes put up a season-high 33 points - all from the offense - while amassing almost 400 yards of total offense, also a season high.
A big part of the success can be attributed to the offensive line looking improved. However, it’s hard to know just how much credit goes to the the Hawkeyes and how much should be attributed to playing a struggling Northwestern defensive front that has been giving up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.
Iowa got close to that mark on Saturday with 178 yards rushing, while averaging a season-high 5.1 yards per carry. It was the first time the Hawkeyes have topped five yards per carry this season and regardless of the opponent, that’s a winning number.
The ability to run the ball helped the Hawkeyes finally see some success through the air as well. Iowa’s 21 completions tied a season high while Spencer Petras’ 70% completion percentage was a season high. He threw a touchdown for just the third time all season while tossing for 220 yards, second most this year.
It was the type of game this team needed 6 weeks ago to build confidence and rhythm, but instead they faced off with several top-10 defenses and were squashed. Now, after getting back into the win column on homecoming, the Hawkeyes are set to hit the road again as they travel to West Lafeyette to take on our most hated rival: Purdue. Ahead of the matchup, the Hawkeyes released an updated depth chart on Monday with a few key differences from a week ago.
- Well, let’s start with the most obvious one. I said a week ago when we learned Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla were splitting reps in practice that it mean Padilla was not getting a shot. That played out on Saturday as Petras took every snap from scrimmage. He had his best game of the season and the offense looked, dare I say, sharp. All the caveats of Northwestern apply, but the end result is that “OR” we saw a week ago is ancient history. Don’t expect it to come back this year.
- The other big change on offense this week is on the offensive line and also reflects what we saw on Saturday. Jack Plumb took over at right tackle and looked markedly better from what we have season season to-date. He’s now got that spot locked down with Connor Colby sliding over to left guard. That puts Nick DeJong as a backup now at both RG and RT.
- One change we haven’t seen on the depth chart is at running back. Despite Kaleb Johnson being the leader in carries and the clear leader in yardage (7.2 YPC last week!), he is still listed third with Gavin Williams remaining the starter. He saw just one carry for -2 yards against the Wildcats.
- On defense, we have a few updates. Starting up front, the Hawkeyes have had Yahya Black back for two weeks, but he finally returns to the depth chart behind Logan Lee this week. that drops Louie Stec off.
- At linebacker, we have Seth Benson sliding to Leo with Jay Higgins, who led the team in tackles last week, moving into the WLB spot. Jack Campbell remains the rock in the middle, but the move puts a more laterally quick Higgins into the lineup and drops Logan Klemp out of the depth chart. Sebastian Castro remains the starter at Cash with Cooper DeJean still at CB filling in for Terry Roberts.
As always, take these with a grain of salt given the staff seems to use them as a reflection of the prior week rather than a true forecast of what to expect. Tune in Tuesday as head coach Kirk Ferentz addresses the media and likely answers questions about injuries. We’ll have a full recap of those comments on Wednesday morning.