clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stat to Watch: The Hidden Yardage

Special Teams Looms Large Again

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Bryon Houlgrave/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Has anybody else felt as though the lead up to this years rendition of the Cy-Hawk game has been quiet? I completely understand the last two match-ups have been featured on Gameday giving them more media time, but this game has the possibility of being an all timer! Partly because the Hawkeyes do not look to have the ability to pull away and Matt Campbell doesn’t win this game anyways. So with a game expected to have margins as tight as Saturday’s, “Stat Watch” will be focused on the hidden yardage that recently has played a huge role in the Cy-Hawk game.

This decision also allowed me to put Tory Taylor on the cover of my article for the second straight story so the former punter in me is pleased. I may try to do it the rest of the year. Anyways, let’s jump into these hidden yards.

When I use the term “hidden yards” I’m referring to those which the box score at the end of a game will not outwardly recognize. Interception yardage, fumble yardage and what will be more pertinent to Saturday, and the focus of this article, special teams yardage. People are quick to point to the 4 turnovers for Iowa State as the primary reason for last years triumph in Ames. I agree that it played a huge factor but remember, all of those turnovers resulted in the Hawkeyes getting the ball in Cyclone territory. Why? Enter Tory Taylor.

As mentioned in countless stories, memes and Gifs, the Aussie Sensation is a main reason the Hawkeyes won 10 games last year. He and the punt unit along with the punt return team also are a primary reason the Cy-Hawk trophy resides in Iowa City. Taylor has averaged 47.9 yards/punt in 10 kicks this year! Thats absurd! So while total yards wise it may look like Iowa is being out gained significantly in a football game, Example, last years Cy-Hawk game (IA.ST 339 yards - Iowa 173), once punting and punt returning are added in you see where Iowa makes up the margin and where victory will be found on Saturday.

Here are the special teams numbers from last years Cy-Hawk game.

2021 Cy-Hawk Hidden Yardage


Punt Return Yards = 53 yards

Punt Avg. * (6 Punts): 51.1*6 = 306.6 yards

“Hidden Yardage” = 359.6 yards

Net “Hidden Yardage” = +94.8 yards

Iowa St:

Punt Return: 11 yards

Punt Avg. * (6 Punts) = 42.3*6= 253.8 yards

“Hidden Yardage” = 264.8 yards

Net “Hidden Yardage” = -94.8 yards

2021 Iowa vs Iowa. St Total Net Yards:

Iowa: 267.8

Iowa St: 244.2

Now before I get crucified for my math skills let me explain. I understand that subtracting Iowa State’s hidden yards is odd. They still grabbed 264.8 yards from special teams. Understand though that in the context of special teams, these hidden yards directly correlate to field position. Last year, Iowa snatched an entire football fields worth of yards away from Iowa St in the punt game which resulted in the Cyclones starting deep in their half seemingly every drive. This rotten field position led to almost every one of the turnovers equaling points for the Hawkeyes. After seeing the wretched performance on offense against SDSU, our Hawkeyes are going to need every advantage they can get to muster up some points. Thankfully for Iowa, Tory Taylor is plenty capable of delivering.

So “Stat Watch” says hidden yardage in the punt game is what you need to pay attention to this week. Iowa certainly isn’t going to open up the offense so if you you begin to notice Iowa with the ball in Cyclone territory, all credit should be given to special teams. Now before I check out, I forgot one last vital stat related to Saturday’s game...

31 inches tall and 19 pounds of pure bliss. Here’s to 7 in a row and Go Hawks!