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Hawkeye Football: Kirk Ferentz to Blame for Iowa’s Offensive Issues

While Brian Ferentz has proven a poor offensive coordinator, Kirk Ferentz is the head coach in Iowa City.

Iowa v Penn State
The buck stops with the man in charge.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The tone amongst the Iowa Hawkeye fanbase has been remarkably bearish since Iowa was blasted 31-0 by Penn State in week four. Understandably so as the Hawkeyes were held scoreless in a game for the first time in more than two decades. With just 76 yards of total offense, it was a boring, abysmal game to watch.

Had it been just the one instance, perhaps the tone would be different. But last week’s showing marks the ninth time over the last 25 games Iowa has played where the offense failed to top double figures. That’s an absurdly high number for a power five team and part of why the Hawkeyes now rank 91st nationally in scoring offense.

With the offensive woes yet again, we wanted to know where Hawkeye fans are laying the blame. A season ago, we asked similar questions and the answer was largely that there was plenty of blame to go around, but offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz deserved most of it. This week, the results were a bit more mixed.

Brain is still getting his fair share of the blame, as he should, but fans are starting to turn their attention to head coach Kirk Ferentz with more than half of respondents saying he is most to blame for the current issues. After all, he is responsible for hiring and firing of the offensive coordinator. While Brain has been bad for some time, he’s been allowed to hang around for seven seasons.

He’s also operating under the philosophical guard rails laid out by Kirk. Ferentz the elder has long valued ball control, lack of turnovers and the idea that punting is winning (no, no, in the literal sense - getting to a punt means you didn’t turn it over and that’s a win, not a joke) over just about everything else. That’s hampered every OC we’ve seen in his 24 seasons and it’s difficult to recall a time when fans didn’t want a new offensive coordinator.

Perhaps it’s time for fans to want a new head coach?

Whether they want a new OC or not, Iowa may be getting one next season (don’t get your hopes up, Hawkeye fans, Kirk again reiterated that no changes to the staff would be made in season, while also reiterating he ain’t changing his philosophy over one bad game - or two years’ worth). With the season now a third of the way done, Iowa is averaging just 21.3 points per game.

It’s a national punchline rather than a secret, that Iowa needs to average 25 points per game on the year for Brain’s contract to be renewed next season. The donut hole in the scoring column against Penn State really crushed the numbers for the Ferentzi. Now, Hawkeyes fans are as pessimistic as ever about Iowa reaching that low bar of 25 points per game with less than 5% of the fanbase expecting Iowa to get there.

I’ve got to pause here, not for dramatic effect, but just to absorb that number for a second. Less than 5% of Hawkeye fans think Iowa will average 25 points per game for the full year. That’s a low number. The bar was set low to begin with and confidence in this offense has got to be at an all-time low.

Put simply, watching Iowa football is no longer fun and expecting it to continue to be miserable to watch is not helpful for the program long term.

As miserable as it is to watch, the majority of the fanbase still has faith in this TEAM to win. More than two-thirds of respondents expect Iowa to win this weekend as they play host to Michigan State. Defense and special teams surely have a lot to do with that.

It’s worth noting that the very nice 69% of fans expecting a win is down from nearly 85% before the season started. So at least 15% of the fanbase is calling for the offense to cost the Hawkeyes at least one more win this year.

We’ll know soon enough as Iowa and Michigan State are set to kick off at 6:30pm CT Saturday night under the lights of Kinnick. After a white out in Happy Valley a week ago, the Hawkeyes are hosting a black out in Iowa City this week. The matchup will be broadcast nationally on NBC.