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The complementary football scorecard: Utah State

24-14 is hardly inspiring but there were some marked improvements in certain areas.

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

The Iowa Hawkeyes’ offense ground to a halt after two immediate touchdowns. Brian Ferentz has shown solid scripts in the past and this one also benefitted from a 54-yard kickoff return to open the game. The start of the game felt akin to the 2021 game versus Indiana where fans had such pent up emotion that the early touchdown on a fairly routine play was cathartic. (though to be fair it’s been awhile since we saw a receiver leave his man in the dust and receive an on-the-money pass)

Now, that game also featured two Riley Moss Specials and Iowa missed out on the non-offensive scoring Saturday. The playbook also seemed fairly closed off, in terms of Cade McNamara staying inside the pocket, which is something to monitor, to be sure. But three offensive touchdowns matched the season high from last year. There’s stuff to build.

But other areas (particularly yards/carry) felt borderline dire. It feels like Iowa makes just about every defense comfortable defending the run game. I do think there was some good in there but it remains a boom-or-bust situation and overly telegraphed.

Quick reminder on how this is all calculated: we take the week-to-week rankings of various stats, put them into a percentile and math them up. Winning being 50% really thumbs the scale on this thing but the name of the game is winning, after all. Iowa typically lands in the .60-.70 range across a season.

Here are the stats from Saturday via Team Rankings.

Last week in complementary football

(Reminder of the weightings here)

50% - Win or loss: Got the dub. Felt weird in that fourth quarter, though.

33% - turnovers, time of possession, & offensive touchdowns: 0 turnovers despite a couple shaky throws from Cade McNamara and a catastrophe (two!) avoided in the punt game but this is ultimately what one would like to see and #1 along with 31 other schools this past week. Iowa finished time of possession with 32:12 (4 minutes better than last year’s average!) and good for 30th. 3 offensive touchdowns was where Iowa topped out in gets Iowa to 38th. Some may say the 4th down call was a way for Iowa to get some points in the bank but it was absolutely the right call to make at the time.

17% - 3rd down conversion, yards/carry, completion percentage, QB sacks: The Hawks converted 35% of their third downs (57th), another step up from last year (28%), and that included a sterling 10/12 from McNamara. Having a competent Checkdown Charlie goes a long way in this offense. 2.4 yards/carry, though, is a rough number and places Iowa 75th. Iowa had a number of drops place their completion percentage at a gnarly 54.6% (71st) and it honestly past due to wonder if Brian Ferentz’s offense has a ceiling of 60%. 1 QB sack (24th). A good number but still not something I like seeing with McNamara nursing his quad injury.

All together, that gets Iowa’s complementary football score to ... (.50 * 1) + (.33 * (1 +.69 + .61)/3) + (.17 * (.41 + .23 + .27 + .75)/4) = .82.

It’s a solid place to start with these stats.