One Defining Moment: Iowa vs Minnesota

By erut17 on November 16, 2020 at 11:42 am
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Each week, "One Defining Moment" will dive into the game's most important moment and break it down in all its glory, or in unfortunate cases, its horror. This week: a 60-minute domination summed up by Goodson's big run.

A Friday game is a risky undertaking. If your team lays an egg on Friday, the entire weekend is tainted. Washing the taste of a bad game takes time and without any NFL until Sunday afternoon (or even Monday for Bears and Vikings fans), there was a real risk of an entire weekend spent stewing over a poor offensive showing and a lost trophy. 

All of that is to say, Gopher fans probably had a rough weekend. The school that chants "We Hate Iowa" in the middle of games against Rutgers and employs a coach with the same shtick as a used car salesman (apologies for the shot at used car salesmen) had to sit with a sixth straight loss to the Hawkeyes all weekend. Beating Minnesota always feels good and when it's a dominating victory, it just makes everything that much better.

Iowa jumped on the Gophers from the get-go Friday and never looked back. The running game ran rampant over an overmatched Gopher defense, imposing their will for 60 minutes. The Hawkeyes had a collection of highlight run plays, but it was Goodson's longest run that showcased everything that went right for the offense in a game where next to nothing went wrong.

The Moment

Late in the 3rd quarter, Iowa started a drive at their own 20. The score was only 14-0 at the time, but the game felt one-sided. On the first play of the drive, as they should have done on every play of the game if we're being honest, Iowa handed off to Tyler Goodson. Goodson broke loose for a 45-yard gain thanks to perfect blocking by the offensive line, multiple broken tackles, and some extra effort from Brandon Smith.

A few plays later, Ihmir Smith-Marsette found his way into the end zone, snuffing out any chance at a Minnesota comeback.
 

 A Closer Look

Iowa established dominance at the line of scrimmage early on and even the 18 throws Petras attempted felt like too many. Iowa ran for over 200 yards, Goodson contributing 142 of those on his own. You could have picked almost any run from the game and pitched it as the Defining Moment, but this was Goodson's best run of the night and encapsulated the full package of Iowa's running success.

The offensive line moved Minnesota off the ball at the snap and created a clear cutback lane for Goodson. By the time the first Gopher defender touched Goodson, he was already 7 yards downfield. These untouched runs were a theme throughout the night. It's been a few years since Iowa truly had the run game to back up their reputation, but so far this season they have looked every bit the maulers at the point of attack they're known to be. Rushing for 200+ yards a game might be a lot to ask, but it should be clear to the coaches now that a run-pass balance closer to the Minnesota game is going to prove far more successful than the 50 passes Petras attempted against Northwestern.

Goodson shrugged off the first attempted tackle and from there he was free for the next 20 yards. He then spun out of the next Minnesota defender's attempt to wrap him up and carried the pile another ten yards once he was finally caught. Goodson has a unique combination of strength and quickness that allows him to make the most out of every run. Combine that with the patience he's shown in waiting for the holes to develop (his touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation earlier in the game is a perfect example) and you've got the perfect back for Iowa's system. 

Brandon Smith deserves a shout-out on this run too. He was in front of Goodson the whole way trying to block. Smith and the entire receiving corps haven't been unleashed in the passing game the way we may have hoped, but they're still finding ways to contribute in their limited opportunities and even without the ball in their hands. Smith has been a strong blocker his entire career (a quick way into Kirk's good graces) and the benefit of having receivers interested in blocking is huge for a team that wants to win with the run. It won't always show up in the stat sheet, but it's an important part of being a complete player.

Impact

It's hard to claim that a single play won the game Friday, partially because Iowa was in control from the opening kick. Goodson's big run did jump-start a scoring drive, one which felt like the decisive blow and calmed the fears of ever-pessimistic Hawk fans. 

Iowa was a boa constrictor Friday, wrapping the Gophers up and slowly squeezing the life out of them. There wasn't a knockout blow, but Iowa methodically overpowered Minnesota in every phase. They leaned on their run game against the worst run defense in the B1G and Tory Taylor continued to be Iowa's best player, which is not an indictment on any other player, but rather a compliment of the highest order. The best development of the day, though, was the continued strong play from the defense. Bottling up one of the best rushing attacks in the Big Ten and all but shutting out an explosive offense is no small feat. The defensive line is getting contributions from a different player every week and the team is creating turnovers and short fields. The offense will have its struggles against stronger defenses, but if the other two phases can carry some of the load, it takes some of the pressure off of Petras and the offense to be perfect. Combine it all with a strong running attack and Iowa may soon find those two early losses far in the rear view mirror. Iowa's found a winning formula, we just have to hope they continue to lean on it.

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