Of Course Wes Lunt is Back
After missing a month, Wes Lunt was back, and looked like he had missed a month. There was some definite rust there. He was well below his season averages in yards, completion percentage, etc… He finished the game 14/25 for just 102 yards and a TD. Really beside the 31-yard TD pass (which was a nice ball and a great catch), Lunt was very ineffective. A good part of that was the Iowa defense. The stats don’t really jump out with just 1 sack, 1 QB hurry, and two pass breakups…but the defense was more disruptive than that. Illinois really didn’t move the ball at all until their final drive of the game during junk time, and by then Lunt was sitting on the bench.
The Offense Has To, HAS TO, Go Deep
It took Iowa a quarter to start taking shots, but once they did, the offense really opened up. On the first play of Iowa’s fifth drive, Jake Rudock hit Jake Duzey for 44 yards that set up the offense’s first score. On the next drive, again on the first play of the drive, Rudock went deep, this time to Kevonte Martin-Manley, for 39 yards. But a fumbled snap and a brutal 1-yard pass on 4th-and-2 killed that drive. When C.J. Beathard came in, he also threw it deep to Duzey and had a beautiful touchdown to Damond "Diamond" Powell. Iowa finished with 9 plays of 20+ yards.
I have to give Greg Davis some credit here. Iowas has scored at least 30 points in 4 of its last 5 games (though the defense is responsible for a few of those points). There is still a lot of progress to be made, but I like the combination of attacking the edges with the Parker sweeps, going up the middle with Mark Weisman, using the tight ends over the mid range, and getting down the field with the receivers. It’s much better than only trying to attack the edges over and over with Weisman on outside zones and short passes to the receivers.
Take Care of the Football
This game started out and looked like a carry-over from last week. A fumbled snap gifted Illinois great field position and an early lead, and stopped another drive (the one with the 1-yard pass on 4th-and-2). As Ross wrote in the recap on Saturday, it was Iowa beating themselves, and once they stopped, the rout was on.
Against Purdue in Iowa’s 10th game last year, Iowa put up 318 rushing yards, Rudock was 12/20 for 192 yards. The defense held Purdue to 266 yards, and after scoring an early TD in the first quarter, the Boilermakers didn’t score again until junk time in the 4th quarter to make the final score 38-14. If Iowa hadn’t gotten stopped on 4th down on the goal line, the score would have been basically the same…the rushing yards were just 14 yards different, Rudock completed two more passes for an extra 18 yards. The parallels are there.
Now what is Iowa to do with this game? Last year, Iowa used the Purdue game to springboard a successful final two games. The offense was completely dormant, averaging just 17 points per game in the B1G before the Purdue game. Iowa closed out scoring 38 points, 24 points, and 38 points. This year, the offense (besides the Minnesota game) has already shown the ability to score points, so I don’t see a big bump in scoring average coming up. But the offense needs to keep it up. 30 points against Wisconsin might not be enough…
The Hawkeyes are in the hunt. Now to stop Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah…