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View From The Cheap Seats: Enervated

The Iowa Hawkeyes are weakened, debilitated and deprived of strength and vitality after a blowout loss to PSU

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Iowa at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time this season, I’m really struggling to find anything that hasn’t already been said about the Iowa Hawkeyes loss on Saturday. Hell, I’m struggling to find the will to write anything at all about what may be the worst performance I’ve witnessed from Iowa in the last 20 years (fear not, dear reader, I’ll find the strength).

I’ll be honest with you, I stopped watching this game about halfway through the 3rd quarter, and I had already switched the bulk of my attention to Diablo IV coming out of halftime. I had the game up on my second monitor, but I was far more interested in silencing some whispers in the hopes of picking up a unique Ancestral sword for my flurry/rapid-fire Rogue than in whatever was going on in Happy Valley.

As soon as that ball caromed off of Brendan Deasfernandes’ left shoulder, I knew this game was over. Okay, that’s a lie, I knew the game was over about 2 minutes prior to that when the refs retconned an obvious lateral/backwards pass and a 14 yard loss into an incomplete pass. I mean, the ball was thrown at the 19 yardline and scooped off the ground inside the 18 yard line, and it wasn’t hard to see, AT ALL. It was not the first call that went PSU’s way (and no I am not blaming the refs for this loss), nor would it be the last, it just felt like a harbinger of doom.

After PSU went up 17-0 I turned off the stream and paid scant attention to the BHGP chat (Editor’s note: if you’re interested in joining the chat, sign up for the free trial here) for the rest of the game, at which point I cracked open a new bottle of Bourbon that I had acquired the previous evening. Candidly, I had considered writing this column from the perspective of someone who has selective amnesia and just pretending that Iowa played a foorball game on Saturday. Kirk Ferentz’s postgame comments changed all of that, as it convinced me that our head coach doesn’t even seem to see the trees while he’s missing the forest.

Q: What is the concern level, for you, with offense?

A: Tonight we didn’t score points, you know and we didn’t stop them on defense. So, it’s not a good night. My concern levels, I don’t know, I don’t have a concern level if that makes any sense. Other than we got shut out tonight. There’s not much good about that.

Really? Really coach? Are you seriously going to stand at the podium and tell us that this loss is, in any way, on Phil Parker’s defense? The defense that spent 97 plays on the field and still only gave up 4.1 ypp? The defense that played almost the entire 1st and 2nd quarter with no breaks? The defense that kept PSU out of the end zone after All’s fumble? The defense that forced a 3 & out on the following series? A defense that PSU could only beat after a seriously unlucky play left them with an incredibly short field? Because through 2 quarters that defense kept you in the game. Iowa’s longest offensive drive in the first half lasted 2:10, and that was it’s first drive, and yet, somehow, the defense is equally at fault?

Look, I get (and even appreciate) Kirk Ferentz’s refusal to throw any individual player/position group/coach under the bus, but to stand behind that podium and attempt to gaslight the press and the fans into thinking they just witnessed a “team loss” is, frankly, despicable. Anyone, and everyone, that subjected themselves to that game knows where the problem is, and it is not the defense, not Saturday night, not any night.

Tonight was disappointing. We played a really good football team. We’ll keep it in perspective. We’ll evaluate things over the course of 12 games. We’ve got eight to play. We’re not just going to start over again in any phase. - Kirk Ferentz

I’d like to request an explanation as to what, in the name of all that is right and good in this world, is left to evaluate. We don’t need 8 more games of this season to evaluate Brian Ferentz’s performance as the offensive coordinator. We’ve got a helluva lot more than 12 games worth of results on that one, and it’s pretty damning.

But sure, let’s look at what the Iowa offense has averaged over the last 12 games (starting with last year’s 7-6 loss to Bert in Champagne):

  • 253.5 yards per game
  • 13.6 first downs per game
  • 1.67 td’s per game

We shouldn’t forget that the 5 td’s against WMU (including Max White’s garbage time td) skew that average by almost 13 of a TD (over a 12 game span). Over the last 12 games Iowa’s offense has scored 0 touchdowns 25% of the time. 3 times in 12 games the offense has been unable to score a single point. Tell me again how the defense is the problem? Those 12 games also include wins against last year’s 1-11 NW squad (in which the Offense managed 2 scores) and a drubbing of a pretty average Purdue squad (where the offense scored thrice).

Last year this offense averaged 256.6 ypg of total offense. Through 4 games this offense is averaging 245.5 ypg. Yes, somehow, the offense is actually worse, even with a former B1G Champion at QB, a load of new receivers, and veteran help along the OL, the offense has regressed.

Listen, I know that Cade is hurt, and that we didn’t have 2 of our top 3 RB’s, but based on what I saw Saturday night, it wouldn’t have mattered. A healthy Cade McNamara still needs more than 1.5 seconds to make a drop, get a read, and throw a ball. Kaleb Johnson and Jaziun Patterson wouldn’t have any better luck at getting through non-existent holes in the line than LeShon Williams or Kamari Moulton did. The fact that Cade created 23.6% of the teams total offensive output on a single scramble is reason enough to have left the OC and the OL Coach on the tarmac in Philadelphia.

I’ve defended Kirk Ferentz in the past, I’ve defended Brian Ferentz in the past (and I still think he’s one of the better position coaches Iowa has had in recent memory) but that time has passed. In the span of 18 months Iowa has gone from a dark horse pick to win the B1G west, to a literal laughingstock. The “Drive for 325” has gone from an amusing meme to national talking point, and the Iowa fanbase’s hopes have come crashing down through the ceiling like a drunk uncle that missed a beam in your attic (and no one has any idea why he was in the attic in the first place).

Now, do I expect to see a whole new offense this Saturday? No, this isn’t Ted Lasso. The Iowa football team doesn’t have heavy, heavy, plot armor. I do, however, expect there to be consequences when one unit is sinking the other two like a flagstone. If this offense can’t produce against an MSU team that is in almost complete disarray, then I’m not sure what else is left to do and if Kirk Ferentz refuses to change for the betterment of this team, and these players that he claims to love, well, then I don’t want to root for someone who’s that selfish.

One last thing, every damn one of us should rejoice in the fact that Phil Parker is apparently in posession of more patience, and grace, than any human being that has ever lived. His defense (that just couldn’t stop Penn State) is STILL ranked #8 in ypp, #27 in points allowed, and has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. Could someone let Kirk Ferentz know?