Much has been said and written about Gary Barta’s “Brian Ferentz 25 points/game” contract clause. And here’s a little more kindling and dry leaves for the fire. We saw a glimmer of hope early against Utah State, and then we saw, for the most part, what Iowa football has looked like the past number of years. For this blog, I’m going with a 3, 2, 1 list of comments, observations, rants, game balls given out, etc... It’s gonna be a grab bag of Hawkeye stuff.
3: Rush Yards / Pass Yards / Sacks
Iowa football has been known for having stout offensive and defensive lines. The past few years, our offensive line has been, well, offensive. I looked at 3 stats from Saturday’s game against Utah State and compared that to Iowa’s season averages from last year. The numbers were eerily similar.
On Saturday the Hawks rushed for 88 yards (2.4) and passed for 196 yards. Last season Iowa ran for 94.8 yards/game (2.9) and passed for 156.7 yards. Certainly an uptick in passing yards. Looking more closely at the yards per completion and attempt from Saturday to last year shows that Iowa’s offense is Iowa’s offense. Against Utah State the Hawks averaged 10.9 yards per completion and 5.9 yards per attempt. In 2022, Iowa averaged 10.6 yards per completion and 5.8 yards per attempt. It was just one game, but the numbers are pretty telling. Long story short, our offense is going to hold us back. Again. Our offensive line looked pretty decent pass blocking, but being Bullies of the Big Ten and moving people with our O-line feels like it 100 years ago. The Hawkeyes allowed just one sack to Utah State; in 2022 Iowa allowed 38 sacks (2.9).
2: Jack Campbell and Jay Higgins
We knew Jack Campbell was a ballplayer. We may not have known just how dominant he was. On the year Campbell had 128 tackles (9.8), 5.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions and 1(2) touchdown [he didn’t step out against Minnesota]. The 6’5” linebacker seemed like he was everywhere, and the stats show pretty much that.
Jay Higgins waited his turn. In an era of “What have you done for me lately” and an instant transfer portal, Higgins brought his lunch pail to work day after day after day. Higgins and the Hawkeyes were rewarded with 16 tackles, including 12 solos. Higgins also had one pass breakup. I wrote about The Tackling Machine three years ago. When Higgins gets his paws on someone, they are more than likely going to the ground. It’s fun to watch a good human being play really good football. The Iowa Hawkeyes have done an excellent job over the years of developing both football players and quality people.
1: What I’d like to see against Iowa State
Ok, so this will end up being more than one thing, but whatever. Iowa State possesses a better defense than Utah State. Also, the Hawks have to travel to Ames. The Cyclones allowed 164 yards passing and 106 yards rushing (2.9) against the Panthers. The Hawkeyes have their work cut out for them to establish the run. Iowa State also sacked UNI quarterback Theo Day five times. Cade McNamara looked good, but he also seemed to reinjure his leg while escaping a Utah State pass rush. The Cyclones will be bringing the kitchen sink at him. Hopefully Cade Mac hits a few wide open passes over the top to soften up the Cyclone defense. After that, Iowa’s offensive line needs to put hats on people. Too often there is miscommunication and/or whiffed blocks and Iowa’s ballcarriers are tackled for a three yard loss. These plays hurt any offense, but they incapacitate Iowa’s offense under Brian Ferentz. Oh, and Hawk receivers, please catch the football. Thanks. There were way too many dropped balls against the Aggies.
So there’s my first 3, 2, 1 for the season. I took some liberties with the numbers, but everything is allowed on the worldwide web. As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye!