Some weeks I feel like I was right on with my picks for the key factors. But this week was not one of those weeks. Basically nothing I said on Friday mattered at all. Iowa was terrible in almost every aspect for the middle 40 minutes of the game or so. The tackling was as bad as I’ve seen out of an Iowa defense. Iowa had three turnovers (a fumble after a nice completion, a muffed punt that would have given Iowa amazing field position, and a horrendous pick-six that pretty much doomed Iowa). The pass protection, including the protection from Brandon Scherff, was 2007-level bad. Somehow, Iowa scored 31 points and only lost by 7. But this was a terrible, terrible effort.
Run the Ball - Build on Last Week
Mark Weisman was having a great day. He had 78 yards on 10 carries and 2 TDs. And then he wasn’t used the entire fourth quarter (which was played into the wind). Jonathon Parker was used on a zone-read type of look (which probably would have gone for a big gain if Jake Rudock had kept it) for a 5 yard loss. There was also one sweep which he took for 13 yards. After that the sweep and even the fake sweep vanished. Iowa’s most successful look over the past few weeks was used just one time.
If you take out the sacks, Iowa had an okay day rushing the ball (157 yards) before it abandoned the run and went to a pass-only fourth quarter, which led to 10 points, but also a pick-six….
Avoid the Deep Pass
The pass defense, though not great, was not the problem. There was only one long pass, but it wasn’t a deep shot…just a poorly defended screen. But where has the run defense gone? Once again, Iowa’s defense was shredded apart by the run game. Maryland entered the game in the bottom quarter of the country in rushing yards per game, but put up 217 on Saturday. Tackling was a big problem. Play recognition was really poor. The defense is just very out of sync right now.
Don’t Get Beat on Special Teams
Not too bad here either, minus the huge mistake of King's fumble on the punt return in the third quarter. Iowa made a critical field goal…converted an onside kick (!!)…had a really nice kick return by Parker (which is becoming pretty commonplace and is kind of exciting)…didn’t give up a long kick or punt return… The punting still needs work and thankfully Iowa finally reopened that competition. But overall, Iowa didn’t get beat on special teams on Saturday.
Continue Red Zone Success
The TV announcers obviously haven’t followed Iowa football very closely as they were SHOCKED that Iowa would go for it on fourth-and-5 inside the red zone. Of course, all Iowa fans knew that was coming and it was successful. A play later Iowa scored a TD and went up 14-0 and looked like they might roll (hahaha). Iowa was successful in the red zone over the rest of the game as well. In five trips they came away with four touchdowns and a field goal. So they did great very well when they were in a red zone offense… unfortunately, they were only in the red zone once in the fourteen drives between the opening two drives and the final three drives of the game.
Iowa has a lot of things that need to be fixed before November. They need to go back to the basics on defense and figure out how to tackle and how to stop the run. On offense, they need to get the offensive line figured out and find a way to consistently run the ball. They need to make a commitment to throwing the ball deep and draw up more plays to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers.
They need to figure it out, because the West is still winnable and the month of November could still be an awesome month of football. But not if Iowa plays like they did on Saturday.