This kind of felt like a first game of the year-type of game. The opponent was clearly overmatched. Iowa didn’t seem to want to do much outside of their base offense and defense. And Iowa kind of shut it down at half time and still won by 16.
Shake off the Cobwebs
Iowa didn’t do much shaking of anything on Saturday. And it didn’t have any business with cobwebs. It was one of the more conservative outings we've seen this year. The playcalling was much more base offense. It was more zone blocking and less pulling. It was the same handful of passing plays… They ran that deep flag route to Matt VandeBerg several times, but had a hard time connecting. Those screen passes, though (other than that first bubble), have been a real threat this year. And, really, that was enough in this game.
Iowa’s defense played so well early that Iowa was able to put it on cruise control. The Hawkeye defense was absolutely dominant on 3rd down, allowing the Terps to pick up just one conversion on ten tries. Maryland’s only scoring drive of the game was heavily aided by two facemask penalties. So Iowa didn’t really need to do much. It was a just win and move on type of game.
Roll Down the Hills
As the game wore on, Perry Hills started to do a little damage in the second half. Maryland started going heavier on the tempo and had a lot of designed runs for Hills. He also picked up the Terps’ only 3rd down conversion with his feet. But for the most part Iowa did a great job of keeping Hills contained. They registered two sacks and held Hills to his lowest rushing output since he re-earned the starting spot last month.
As far as the passing game, though…Iowa’s secondary just abused Hills when he tried to throw. Desmond King had yet another interception. This one he returned 88 yards for a TD. He's now tied for first in the country in picks with seven on the year. Jordan Lomax had an interception and should have had another and Miles Taylor got his first pick of the year. At the end of the day, Hills only had 74 yards passing and didn’t complete a pass for longer than 14 yards.
Don’t Get Tricked
The Terps didn’t do as many things differently with their offense as they did the week prior against Penn State. They did try to get William Likely in there once, but Iowa was all over it and tackled him behind the line. Their wildcat personnel was only used when Hills looked slightly shaken up and had to sit out a couple plays. So, much like the offense, Iowa was mostly able to sit back in its base defense on standard downs and the raider/nickel packages on passing downs. It was good ol’ keep the ball in front of you and wait for them to screw up -- and it worked like a charm.
Don’t Turn Over in Your Grave
C.J. Beathard is clearly not 100%, but he’s doing what he needs to right now. He’s making smart throws and not turning it over. And his job of late has been a lot of make the right call at the line, turn around, and hand the ball off. The good news there is that the running backs haven’t been putting the ball on the ground. With Akrum Wadley starting his first game, he had a solid outing and hasn’t had ball security issues since the first week. Keep that up and Iowa will be in good shape in November.
This could be the most important month of Iowa football in a long time. It starts with what looks like might be the toughest test remaining, at Indiana. The Hoosiers have a potent passing attack and while they’ve found creative ways to lose over the past month, they started the season finding ways to win. Iowa hasn’t been in a shootout so far this year, but with all the ways that Iowa has won, I don’t see any reason why shootout can’t be added to that list.