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The Morning After: All Good Things

Iowa’s offense struggles again as the Cyclones reclaim the Cy-Hawk trophy for the first time in seven years

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2014 the Cy-Hawk Trophy will reside in Ames after the Cyclones topped the Hawkeyes 10-7 in Kinnick Stadium. It was a mistake-filled and — stop me if you’ve heard this one — another offensively bankrupt performance for the Hawkeyes. It had been 2,919 days since Iowa last lost to their in-state rivals. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

I wasn’t able to watch the first half yesterday’s game. For about the first half of the first quarter my family and I were navigating the aisles and crowds of Costo, so I unfortunately didn’t get to experience Iowa’s first touchdown of the season. Quite honestly, I’m starting to think they never actually scored and the world is playing some elaborate trick on me. But if it wasn’t a hoax, and Iowa did indeed make it into the endzone after a blocked ISU punt, I may have spend every remaining game at Costco because apparently that is the only circumstance under which this offense can score.

Frankly, Costco may be more enjoyable than watching this team.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After last week the question many people asked was “Was this the worst offensive performance of the Kirk Ferentz era?” and in retrospect we can now answer, “Nope, this one’s worse.” The Hawkeyes tallied an embarassing 150 total yards, sixteen fewer than they gained against SDSU. Spencer Petras went 12 of 26 for 96 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. The running game wasn’t much better, with a mere 58 yards on 25 carries, but at least Leshon Williams was able to find the end zone.

This game felt like a Greatest Hits of why Iowa’s offense is such a laughingstock around the college football world. You could take your pick of any one of a number of scapegoats as to why Iowa lost this one, but pretty much everything added up to just a sloppy, sodden mess of a game.

Terrible play calling at the worst possible time? Check.

A quarterback who has severely regressed in his third year? Yep.

A coaching staff who continues to throw said quarterback to the wolves every series? Got that too.

Mistakes and lack of execution at the worst possible times? Yes and yes.

The defense held up its end of the bargain for nearly the entire game. Outside of a 2015 B1G Championship-reminiscent 99-yard touchdown drive by the Cyclones, they did nearly everything they could to give the offense an opportunity to succeed and the offense responded with a dismissive “Nope” every time. You could see the frustration from Terry Roberts on his interception late in the game, knowing that a pick-six may have been the only way this team scored more points.

It was still eating away at him, hours after the game ended.

Scary Terry has been one of the highlights of this defense, and along with Quinn Schulte and Cooper DeJean they’ve upheld Phil Parker’s standard of secondary excellence. But it has to be incredibly frustrating to continually make the plays that need to be made only for the offense to flush the opportunity down the toilet time after time after time. Kirk Ferentz loves to preach the gospel of complementary football, and when your offense doesn’t rely on the Big Play that’s perfectly fine. You can win a lot of games when each leg of the stool is reliable and setting the others up for success. However, in these last two games we’ve seen what can happen when one of those phases doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain. A three-legged stool with one leg missing will drop you flat on your face.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, I just don’t know what else to say about this offense. I don’t know what other superlatives can do the job of expressing just how dire the situation on offense seems to be right now. And there are simply no quick fixes to the problems. The most popular rallying cry is to replace Petras with Padilla. He’s the easiest target, especially after a loss. Petras seems like a great kid. He says the right things, has the right attitude, and stands at the podium and faces the music like a leader should. Kirk likes to praise Spencer for being great in practice. But being the best QB in practice doesn’t add a damn thing to the win column, does it? Mentally, and in game action, Petras just isn’t getting it done. Maybe Padilla can do better, or maybe he can’t. But with Spencer at the helm, this offense is not clicking. Kirk stubbornly refusing to change course has now resulted in the first loss of the season, and the first loss of the Cy-Hawk game since the Obama administration. I hope saving his pride was worth it.

Iowa will head into the third week of the season sitting at 1-1 and hosting the Nevada Wolf Pack next Saturday. Last night the Pack lost to Incarnate Word 55-41 and are regarded as the easiest opponent on this year’s schedule. So be prepared for a white-knuckle slog with the result still in doubt well into the fourth quarter.

If anyone needs toilet paper for this offensive shit show let me know. I’ll grab some at Costco next Saturday.