We’ll always have the first quarter. Let’s recap it so we can all bask in those 15 minutes one more time.
A bolt of lightning kick return to open the game by Kaleb Johnson. 54 yards.
Two plays in - Cade McNamara’s first attempt as an Iowa quarterback and it’s a 36-yard touchdown to Seth Anderson. Transfer to transfer. Longer than any passing touchdown last year. First passing TD to open the scoring for the season since 1991 against Hawaii (I was at that game and it was also super hot that day too!) First time Iowa’s had a passing TD on the first completion of the season since 1983. Chuck Long. You get a cool stat! You get a cool stat!
A quick 3-and-out for Utah State, followed by another touchdown, this time to Erick All. Transfer to transfer again. At this point, texts are hitting my phone about winning the West in a walk, Hawks by a million, and on and on. I am allowing myself to smile watching Iowa’s offense.
Unfortunately, we moved out of the scripted portion of the proceedings - something Brian Ferentz is good at - at the end of the first quarter and into the, “can you call plays in the flow of the game and not telegraph it?” portion of the program and Iowa just, well, lost the script. It all seemingly turned on Iowa’s ill-fated 4th and 1 attempt that was stuffed for no gain. Utah State largely outplayed Iowa after that single moment and now all of Hawkeye Nation is wondering just what the hell that was.
We have to start in the trenches for the offense because - being honest - I can’t handle another season with such putrid output. At some point, we have to accept the fact that Iowa’s pedigree on the offensive line is overrated. Yes, they get a Tristan Wirfs or a Tyler Linderbaum and everything is grand on individual talent, but the line as a whole has struggled for years now and it’s unacceptable.
Yes, I thought they were decent in pass protection yesterday. It’s a development that surprised me. The run game though? 2.4 yards per carry against a Mountain West side? I thought the run game would come together nicely but Iowa would struggle in pass protection. Oops. From Rob Howe:
Heard on Utah State sideline:— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) September 2, 2023
“They’re a B1G team and they can’t run the ball.”
How ominous is that? When Kirk Ferentz said Iowa was rotating on the offensive line late in camp due to competition at certain positions, it should have given everyone pause. The comment didn’t land well in BHGP HQ. This system requires reps together. Chemistry. Continuity. The top group needs the reps together to accomplish that. If there is a rotation occurring, they don’t know the top group and how can the chemistry be built? None of it computes for me.
At least it appears Iowa has a quarterback in Cade McNamara. He was excellent most of the day. He alluded pressure that would have been an immediate sack a year ago. Some of his throws were things we haven’t seen since C.J. Beathard. That lofted pass into the end zone, late first half, to Nico Ragaini? That was a gorgeous throw and it’s a shame Ragaini couldn’t haul that in.
But he also seemed to aggravate his quad in the third quarter - a disaster class of a quarter from the offense - after dodging a sack. That will be something we watch and hold our breath on all year. Deacon Hill is a damn unit - 258 pounds!! - and he got reps in fall camp and that’s great, but McNamara is Iowa’s ticket. Just hope we don’t get a double whammy of McNamara banged up plus awful line play again. Those two things together? Hold the hell on. This could go sideways quickly.
- Xavier Nwankpa - his pick in the 2nd quarter was such an awesome play. My God. That was incredible. Baited the quarterback into that throw and then covered some serious ground to get there.
- Seriously, McNamara looked great. To all of the Football Gods, wherever you are, please - keep this dude healthy.
- After a play is over, maybe don’t go with The People’s Elbow off the top rope, #9 for Utah State? Some of their penalties were just outrageous. They were bad in that department last year, and they’ll be bad in that department again this year. A few of those dumb penalties extended Iowa drives.
- It looked hot and the Hawks lost guys in the heat.
- Drive for 325 - bad start!