Iowa State Leaves Kinnick Stadium with the CyHawk Trophy
Two blocked punts put Iowa’s offense inside its opponent’s 20-yard line. Two interceptions and a fumble recovery from the defense added to the performance of Iowa’s special teams. Ideally, a victory would be included in a box score with those numbers. However, the offense was only able to supplement those stats with 150 total yards and just a single touchdown. Iowa State leaves Kinnick Stadium with the CyHawk Trophy and a 10-7 victory in Matt Campbell’s first victory against his in-state rival.
The massive discrepancy between the dominance of the Hawkeye defense and its stagnant offense allows for a very limited margin of error. Last week’s 7-3 win was essentially the same performance, but the Hawkeyes squeaked by with a win. For the Cyclones, it just took just one touchdown to get the victory, and it was enough to let the margins swing in their favor. This kind of football is nothing new for the Hawkeyes. They have played this way for much of Kirk Ferentz’s tenure in Iowa City. Iowa plays an opportunistic game, letting its opponent make the mistakes to give the advantage. This is successful when your own mistakes are limited. This year’s offense hasn’t been able to move the ball and limit mistakes to be successful in that brand of football.
Offensive Struggles Continue
The game started fast, with an early blocked punt by Lukas Van Ness that put Iowa inside the Cyclone red zone. It set up a Leshon Williams touchdown to take a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game. It would be the game’s only touchdown until the fourth quarter. The remainder of the first half revealed a similar look to the struggles of last week’s effort offensively. Spencer Petras went five for 11 for 33 yards with a fumble, and an interception in the first half, taking the Hawkeyes to the locker room with a 7-3 lead. The 86 total yards of offense and three yards per play on average surely warranted consideration of change at the quarterback position. The defense was continuing to hum, but the offense clearly needed some sort of spark to get things moving.
Entering the third quarter, it was reported that there was “no consideration” in replacing Petras with Alex Padilla at quarterback. The resistance to change at that position from the staff reveals more than just a commitment to their starter. Either the coaching staff doesn’t want to change their offensive game plan, or there’s a general lack of trust in Padilla. It’s difficult to believe the latter, with him having gone 3-0 as a starter last season. At this point, the push to replace Petras at quarterback is not just a “fan reaction” to a bad performance. The offense is in desperate need of ignition. The unit has just 316 total yards of offense this season.
The game progressed, and the offense set up more roll-out passes to target receivers on the outside. One of the issues with the passing game is the lack of protection in the pocket. Getting Petras outside gave him a clearer window to target his wide receivers. The problem was that on those mid-range outside passes, Petras was five for 12 with 45 yards. The misses came mostly as the overthrow variety, continuing the inability to move the ball. Iowa averaged just under three yards per play on the day.
Defense Defense Defense
Although it’s difficult to look past the static offense, the performances from the defense and special teams against Iowa State were considerably dominant. Van Ness finished his day with two blocked punts, both giving the offense great field position. Cooper DeJean made a handful of great plays including a touchdown-saving interception. The pick immediately followed an Iowa interception that gave the Cyclones the ball inside the 20-yard line. The defense recorded 89 tackles, compared to Iowa State’s 42 total. Phil Parker’s unit was on the field for 38:14 and gave up just 10 points.
The lone Iowa State touchdown came on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown drive. A drive that began in the third quarter. It lasted 21 plays, stretched 99 yards, and took nearly 12 minutes off of the clock. For the Hawkeye defense to be on the field for that long and allow just the 10 total points is quite impressive.
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Iowa State Leaves Kinnick with the CyHawk Trophy
Despite the trudging Iowa offense, Petras was able to move the ball into Cyclone territory with the assistance of a personal foul penalty. Aaron Blom lined up for a 48-yard field goal with a chance to send the game into overtime. It sailed wide left, and Iowa State left Kinnick Stadium with the CyHawk trophy for the first time since 2014. It’s fitting that this team, regardless of their performance offensively, still gave themselves an opportunity to send the game to overtime.
Iowa plays a brand of opportunistic football that is sometimes difficult to watch, but it gives the team a chance to win games, no matter the struggles on offense. With a step up from the offense, the Hawkeyes have the ingredients to win these kinds of games. But right now, there needs to be a spark in the offense to get the team to that next level. The Hawkeyes host their final non-conference game next week against Nevada under the lights.