Welcome back to matchup to watch. Last week? DOA. Hale Motu’apuaka was Utah State’s lone returning starter on defense and was held out with an injury. Logan Jones appeared to progress from last year but Iowa’s telegraphed run game put no offensive lineman in a good position. The lone sack of Cade McNamara came from a blitz up the gut which is a bit of a demerit for Logan Jones but overall, I thought he played well. He seemed to show progress from last year (he said he’s calling the protections now instead of left tackle Mason RIchman...WOOF) but Iowa’s telegraphed run game puts no offensive lineman in a good position. That’s my official stance on Iowa’s offensive line right now.
Onto Iowa State...
The Iowa State Cyclones had a strong-for-them showing against UNI by adhering to a well-known-to-Hawkeye-fans script: exceptional defense, exploiting the edges on special teams, and a wet blanket offense. The scoring was jumpstarted by safety Jeremiah Cooper’s interceptions (his first was returned for a touchdown and his second was converted into a 56(!!!)-yard field goal just before half) and they never really looked back.
One overlooked player, perhaps by design, was preseason all-conference corner TJ Tampa. He had a quiet game with just a tackle and a pass breakup as the Panthers threw everywhere else. His ascent has been well-founded and his decision to remain in Ames, IA is a heartwarming one. As Mike Hlas detailed, playing this season in the NFL or at a college football powerhouse was very much a possibility for the 6’2” 200 pound corner but he opted to stay and do what he could to turn around Iowa State.
While he has just one interception to his name, he’s defended plenty of balls, including four against Oklahoma where he also notched a career-high seven tackles.
It’s a big “opportunity” for Iowa to show they’ve diversified their passing game. Last week wasn’t necessarily it as just four of Iowa’s 33 passes were caught by Hawkeye wide receivers. Seth Anderson, though, took advantage of the biggest opportunity as racing behind a DB who slipped hasn’t always been a guarantee in Iowa’s passing attack.
On that note, Iowa was quite successful down the field. Three of their four passes past 25 yards were completed, including Anderson’s. The biggest area for opportunity is in the space between 5 and 25 yards, though: they went just 1/8 on passes within that range. Those are passes ISU will allow the Hawkeyes to make and they’ll need to do it.
The last two times out, Iowa has thrown for less than 200 yards COMBINED against the Cyclones. Seth Anderson is a guy who can stretch an opponent defense now that their is a steadier hand guiding the ship. He faces a tall task in that effort in TJ Tampa.