Game Rewind: A play-by-play look at the offense vs Rutgers

By Eric Ponto on September 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm
LeShun got LeShunned
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

I plan at some point to go back and do this for the NDSU game, but for now we're moving on to Rutgers. The running game looked a whole lot more like it did against Miami (OH) using power plays and tosses. The passing game looked...well, bad. Just really bad. It was not like Week 1, which was all screen passes and full Greg Davis "horizontal offense." The receivers were running deep routes a lot, but either weren't open or Beathard couldn't find them. As a result, the offense as a whole really struggled. They managed to get it together for a good 2-minute drill drive to end the first half and then in the 4th quarter Iowa finally gave up on the pass and was able to get Wadley a TD and then run out the clock with Daniels.

Drive 1

1-10      IOWA 6      12      2 TE, Twins         |    pass  3 yards

Iowa fakes the inside zone to the right, and Beathard bootlegs to the left. He tucks and runs quickly and gains a couple of yards.

2-7       IOWA 9      20      I-form, 3-wide      |    pass  14 yards

Beathard checks at the line, goes back to pass. The protection is fine but he doesn't see anything he likes and takes off again. Daniels and Smith turn into blockers on the outside and Beathard gets out of bounds past the sticks.

1-10      IOWA 23     11      base 3-wide         |    run   4 yards

McCarron motions in tight, which should tip the defense off to the toss. Daniels and Croston pull and the get on their blocks, but the play is run to the shortside of the field and Wadley runs out of room.

2-6       IOWA 27     21      I-form, twins       |    pass  6 yards

It's play action. Ross fakes like he's going to be the lead blocker, then escapes to the flat and Beathard lobs it to him. Ross kind of bobbles it, but is able to control before running out of bounds. He gets the first down.

1-10      IOWA 33     11      base 3-wide         |    pass  0 yards

Iowa is sticking with the pass and Beathard audibles at the line. He's looking VandeBerg's direction, but it isn't there, so he checks to McCarron and then just chucks it away.

2-10      IOWA 33     21      i-form              |    pass  0 yards

Beathard half-heartedly fakes the handoff and drops deep. He tries to hit McCarron on a deep out, but he's covered and the throw isn't accurate.

3-10      IOWA 33     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  0 yards

Rutgers send six rushers, and while Iowa does manage to at least get a body on everyone, the pocket quickly collapses and Beathard tries to escape up the middle but just gets back to the line of scrimmage. He needed to find VandeBerg (who was open) right away, because the nickel back covering him blitzed.

Drive 2

1-10      IOWA 32     20      I-form, 3-wide      |    run   1 yards

Iowa blocks like an inside zone to the right, but Wadley is aiming outside the left tackle on a counter play. The OL doesn't get to the second level and Wadley is met at the line by a linebacker.

2-9       IOWA 33     21      I-form              |    run   5 yards

Daniels and Boettger pull with Ross also leading the way on a pin-and-pull outside zone run. Boettger gets tangled and and falls right in Wadley's path, but he hurdles him and keeps going. After the hurdle, though, he's unable to turn the corner and only turns upfield for a few yards.

3-4       IOWA 38     11      SG, 3-wide          |    pass  0 yards

VandeBerg runs a skinny post and is bracketed by the nickel corner and a safety. There isn't any room for Beathard to try to fit the ball in and he's lucky it isn't intercepted. Instead it's just batted away.

Drive 3

1-10      IOWA 8      21      i-form              |    run   10 yards

A standard outsize zone with the fullback as a lead blocker. Croston gets his guy deep and wide opening a big hole. Meyer and Kulik take out linebackers and LeShun makes it through the box untouched but gets taken down by the safety.

1-10      IOWA 18     12      trips bunched tight |    pass  5 yards

VandeBerg just kind of jogs across the formation and has a defender shadowing him. Beathard completes the 2-yard pass and VandeBerg is able to fall forward for a few extra yards.

2-10      IOWA 18     12      2 TE, Twins         |    pass  12 yards

After a false start, it's 2nd-and-10. Smith runs a comeback route and has a big cushion along the side line. It's an easy pitch and catch, but Smith's momentum carries him out of bound before he can try to turn upfield.

1-10      IOWA 30     12      trips bunched tight |    pass  0 yards

Kittle settles in the void in a cover 2 between the corner and the safety, but the defensive end comes in on a delayed rush and knocks Croston back into Beathard right as he is throwing the pass. The ball is way short and probably should have been picked. To make matters worse, Ferentz the younger gets a sideline interference penalty.

2-25      IOWA 15     11      base 3-wide         |    pass  0 yards

Beathard audibles and must think Smith is going to have single coverage. He runs a skinny post, but has like four defenders around him. Beathard actually gets the ball there and Smith maybe had a chance to catch it, but it was well defended.

3-25      IOWA 15     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  9 yards

They set up the screen to Daniels, but really only one of Rutger's defenders bites hard on the rush. Other Daniels is out there to block but can't really find anyone and LeShun has no real chance of getting the first down.

Drive 4

1-10      IOWA 20     11      base 3-wide         |    pass  0 yards

Scheel motions in tight, signaling the toss sweep, and Iowa fakes it pulling the linemen and everything. Beathard sprints out the opposite direction and has a defender in his face. Scheel is very open crossing the field, but Beathard has to just throw it away. Love the play call, unfortunately the DE didn't bite on the fake, otherwise it is probably a 20+ yard gain to Scheel.

2-10      IOWA 20     12      2 TE, Twins         |    run   5 yards

Beathard changes the playside and it is a stretch play to the left (the short side of the field). Pekar takes out the DE, then Kittle manages to hit the OLB and the CB which gives Wadley a clear path on the edge. However, Wadley runs out of room and goes out of bounds.

3-5       IOWA 25     11      5-wide, bunched     |    pass  6 yards

VandeBerg is part of the bunch of three receivers. He runs a smash route as Kittle goes deep and Scheel runs a shallow cross. It's a nice combination of routes and Beathard hits MVB right at the sticks for the first down.

1-10      IOWA 31     21      I-form              |    run   10 yards

Another check at the line and it is just an inside zone. Welsh and Boettger double the tackle and push him six yards down the field, then Welsh gets on the MLB, which opens a huge hole for Daniels.

1-10      IOWA 41     21      I-form              |    run   0 yards

Iowa goes back to the same play. This time Daniels tries to follow Meyers, who got a good block, but both Daniels and Croston stalemate with their guys and LeShun is met at the line.

2-10      IOWA 41     21      Offset I            |    pass  0 yards

It's a rare offset-I look from Iowa and Beathard drops deep to pass. Protection is good and Beathard tries to hit Smith on a post. The defender is all over him. It is probably good defense rather than a pass interference penalty and the pass isn't great. Smith has no chance to catch it.

3-10      IOWA 41     11      SG, 3-wide          |    pass  24 yards

Beathard quickly recognizes Rutgers is blitzing and in a cover 1 so has single coverage on the outside. He throws to Smith's back shoulder on the fade and completes it for a big third down conversion.

1-10      RUTG 35     12      Ace                 |    run   6 yards

There is barely a hole, but there is a sliver opened by Daniels taking his guy down to the ground. Wadley cuts back and squirts through for a few yards.

2-4       RUTG 29     22      I-form              |    run   14 yards

Iowa runs a power-O play with a pulling guard and the fullback as leading blockers for Wadley, who gets to the outside and gets Iowa into the redzone.

1-10      RUTG 15     12      2 TE, Twins         |    run   4 yards

It's a zone play to the 2 TE side and the line gets a good push. For a second it looks like Wadley could take it for a TD as he has a big cutback lane, but he doesn't quite get there and it ends up a short gain.

2-6       RUTG 11     12      2 TE, Twins         |    run   -2 yards

Kittle motions across the formation and they run it to his side. If Daniels makes it through the hole that Kittle and Boettger have opened up, the blocking downfield is great and he might have scored. However, he trips over Beathard's foot while taking the handoff and loses yards.

3-8       RUTG 13     11      base 3-wide         |    run   3 yards

Another outside zone. The announcer on TV says it is a conservative playcall, but it is the opposite. Iowa is clearly going to go for it on 4th down. KF has been doing this since before "New Kirk" was a thing. They run it on thrid trying to catch the defense off guard hoping to get the first, but settling for a 4th-and-short. The D is ready this time and Daniels doesn't get much.

4-5       RUTG 10     11      SG, 5-wide          |    pass  0 yards

They try to get it to Smith in the corner of the endzone on a fade, but he doesn't get through his defender clean and is maybe held up a step, though he is open. Beathard overshoots him and Iowa gets no points.

Drive 5

1-10      IOWA 1      22      I-form              |    run   13 yards

Following the Josey Jewell stand, Iowa starts on its 1-yard line. They fake a run to the left and Beathard bootlegs to the right. It is a run the whole way for him and he gets Iowa some breathing room.

1-10      IOWA 14     22      I-form              |    run   3 yards

Kittle motions to the right and the play follows him. It's an inside zone and there isn't anywhere for Wadley to go.

2-7       IOWA 17     22      I-form              |    pass  20 yards

Kittle goes in motion again. Rutger's safety was injured the play before so Iowa immediately attack down field. It's play action and Kittle runs an out and is open. Beathard finds him for a big gain.

1-10      IOWA 37     11      SG, 3-wide          |    run  12 yards

All of a sudden, Iowa's no longer in trouble and is on the move so they switch to their hurry-up offense. Beathard drops back to pass from shotgun, has time but doesn't see anything, so takes off and and runs for the first down.

1-10      IOWA 49     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  8 yards

Iowa's running 4 verts with three wide receivers and a tight end, but then just checks down to Wadley who has a little bit of room in front of him. He gets eight yards and importantly gets out of bounds.

2-2       RUTG 43     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  7 yards

Kittle runs a smash route from the slot and Beathard zips it in too strong. It bounces off of Kittle's hands and Iowa is super lucky that VandeBerg is there to catch the tipped ball.

1-10      RUTG 36     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  0 yards

Beathard tries the back shoulder throw again to Smith, but this time Smith isn't quite able to turn back around and haul it in.

2-10      RUTG 36     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  26 yards

Following a timeout, Greg Davis has drawn up a nice play. They fake the jailbreak screen to VandeBerg and Rutgers bites hard. Kittle sneaks out and is wide open down the field. He catches it, makes the safety miss, and scores.

Drive 6

1-22      IOWA 13     11      SG, 4-wide          |    run   7 yards

Iowa opens the half what should have been a TD, but was called back for an illegal block (that was questionable). Anyway, Iowa now spreads it out and then runs a QB draw. Initially, Beathard runs into his own guy, but then finds a hole and makes the first man miss.

2-15      IOWA 20     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  30 yards

It's second and long, so it's time for a screen. It is set up really well. Rutgers has its safeties deep and Iowa is able to get Croston and Daniels out in front of Wadley as blockers. It turns into a big gain.

1-10      50          21      I-form              |    run   11 yards

They don't switch the camera in time to get a good look at what happens on this play. From what I can tell, it's an inside zone and James Daniels gets to the second level and opens a hole for his brother, who gets a first down.

1-10      RUTG 39     21      I-form              |    run   8 yards

An inside zone to Wadley this time and it look awfully similar to the previous play. There is a good push right up the middle and he gets a good gain.

2-12      RUTG 41     11      SG, 3-wide          |    pass  0 yards

There was a kind of bogus holding call, and then a missed late hit out of bounds, but anyway, Iowa gets backed up 10 yards. On second down, Iowa tries a wheel route to Daniels. Like the fade in the endzone earlier, Beathard overthrows his touch pass and it falls incomplete.

3-12      RUTG 41     1       SG, 4-wide          |    pass  0 yards

Rutgers blitzes, but Beathard still has plenty of time. He doesn't like what he sees though and takes off without anywhere to really go.

Drive 7

1-10      IOWA 14     21      I-form              |    run   15 yards

The inside zone with Daniels continues to work. The offensive line does a great job getting push at the point of attack and Daniels easily gets the first down.

1-10      IOWA 29     21      I-form, twins       |    run   2 yards

They try an outside zone with Daniels this time and there isn't a hole. He just falls forward for two yards.

2-8       IOWA 31     21      I-form, twins       |    pass  3 yards

Beathard drops deep, takes a quick survey of the field, and then starts to feel some pressure. He does well to avoid the sack and get positive yardage.

3-5       IOWA 34     11      SG, 3-wide          |    pass  0 yards

VandeBerg motions in tight over Kittle and then runs a shallow cross…like, really shallow. He somehow ends up behind the line of scrimmage and Beathard throws it to him anyway and he is tackled immediately.

Drive 8

1-10      IOWA 33     22      I-form              |    run   4 yards

Iowa goes heavy this time and runs a power blocking look to the left, but pitches it to Wadley going right. The defensive end reads it very well and Wadley can't make him miss so it is just a short gain.

2-6       IOWA 37     21      I-form              |    run   4 yards

It's a stretch play to the left. There is a hole there initially, but it is quickly closed and Wadley is stopped a couple yards short of the first down.

3-2       IOWA 41     11      trips bunched wide  |    run   0 yards

It's a really long two yards for the first down, but I would have still expected heavier personnel to try to run for it. Instead they try an inside zone play and Croston completely whiffs on the defensive end, who meets Daniels in the backfield.

Drive 9

1-10      IOWA 48     12      ace                 |    pass  -9 yards

Rutgers had just tied it up so Iowa is looking for a big strike right away. It is play action and Beathard is looking deep. He decides not to throw it though and Pekar isn't able to keep his guy blocked long enough and Beathard takes a sack.

2-19      IOWA 39     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  0 yards

VandeBerg is running a cross and is open between the linebackers and the safeties but the throw is tipped at the line.

3-19      IOWA 39     11      SG, 4-wide          |    pass  -7 yards

Daniels doesn't handle the blitzer that well, but Beathard also is holding on to the ball a long time and just sitting in the pocket. The pressure mounts, the pocket collapses, and Beathard takes another sack.

Drive 10

1-15      RUTG 26     21      I-form              |    run   26 yards

Following a turnover Iowa doesn't waste any time. On an outside zone Wadley finds the smallest of cracks, sneaks to the ouside, tip toes the side line, and stays in bounds for the touchdown. A beautiful run.

Drive 11

1-10      IOWA 19     21      I-form              |    run   6 yards

This was not Iowa's traditional 4-minute offense. Maybe after the NDSU game they decided to change it up a little. Anyway, they run an outside zone to the right with Daniels and he gets six yards.

2-4       IOWA 25     21      I-form              |    run   6 yards

The exact same play with the same result. Daniels gets six yards and the first down. The clock is bleeding…

1-10      IOWA 31     21      I-form              |    run   0 yards

I really liked this play call…they run an end around to Scheel. He gets strung out too wide and never cuts up field and gets tackled for no gain. Kittle actually provides a nice block and a cutback lane, but Scheel doesn't see it.

2-10      IOWA 31     22      I-form              |    run   3 yards

Iowa finally goes to its traditional 4-minute offense play… a power run out of 22 personnel with a pulling guard and FB as lead blockers. Rutgers has nine guys in the box, and Pekar doesn't do a great job on his block and Daniels just gets a couple yards.

3-7       IOWA 34     11      trips bunched wide  |    run   12 yards

Beathard sees movement pre-snap from Rutgers and changes up the play call (likely just changing the direction of the run). It is a pin-and-pull play. Kittle seals the defensive end, Croston pulls and takes out the WLB, and Daniels pulls and gets the MLB. LeShun has a step of the OLB and drags him past the first down marker to seal the win. The Daniels bros. are quick to congratulate each other after the play...kind of cool to see brothers celebrate together.

Some interesting stuff

  • Personnel wise the 11 was still the go-to formation. However, we saw a whole lot more two tight end looks in non-running situations this week and the fullback was used more as well. They tried to be balanced out of the two tight ends formations with five passes and four run plays, but they weren't super-effective. Running out of the 21 personnel with the fullback as a lead blocker was really successful, though. 103 of Iowa's rushing yards came out of that personnel.
  • They used a lot of 4-wide looks this week with Kittle lined up in the slot rather than with his hands in the dirt. That was the go-to look during the hurry-up offense and it was successful.
  • Iowa is missing its balance on first down from earlier in the year. They have been defaulting more to always running on first down. There were twice as many runs on first down as passes (18 to 9) in this game. Against Iowa State that ratio was 50/50.
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