The Good: The Offensive Line
IMMEDIATE CAVEAT: Calling the offensive line "good" is a relative term. They were good, as in they weren’t as dogshit awful as they had been the past couple of games. They were good, as in C.J. Beathard actually got more than 1.5 seconds to throw the ball. They were good, as in they were not tragically bad.
You probably thought I’d give credit to Iowa’s defense, which did play a good game. But no. I think that had a lot more to do with Mitch Leidner going full Christensen and Minnesota’s wide receivers having the dropsies. Never go full Christensen.
Now, back to the offensive line, Boone Myers is not really a left tackle. His arms are short and he gets blown off the line too easily. The thing that separates him from Cole Croston is that he has better footwork and can adjust and stymie the the pass rush. He’s better in that aspect and if it’s between Croston and Myers, Boone seems to be the lesser of two evils.
Thanks to Ferentz(s) shuffling the line, C.J. Beathard was only sacked once on Saturday. And sure, he was hurried a few times. And sure, Iowa got away with a tremendous amount of holds but y’know what, Iowa fans were happy to see the game get called both ways (as in, holding wasn’t really being called on either side). But the fact that Beathard actually had time on a good number of plays was encouraging. It’s true that he wasn’t able to do much even when he had time but that’s something we can blame on the wide receivers, who can only get better. I think.
The offensive line grinding away is also what opened up Akrum Wadley’s big run. Daniels finished the game only averaging 3.9 yards per carry. If we take away Wadley’s 54-yard-run, he only averaged 4.1 yards per carry. It was a grit and grind kind of Saturday. The tedious dives up the middle lulled Minnesota into expecting yet another boring play and BAM here’s the off tackle and Akrum goes yard.
The Hawkeyes get Purdue this week and if Iowa’s performance against Rutgers is any indication, they’re going to struggle with even the worst teams in the Big Ten. The hope is that Ferentz continues to tinker with the line, likes what he sees against Purdue, and has a stable depth chart for Wisconsin.
The Bad: The Return of Old Kirk
This game was vintage Old Kirk, wasn’t it? Field possession. A game of punts. Lack of common sense decisions. A one-possession game in the fourth quarter. I swear that Kirk Ferentz lives for that type of game. The problem is that he usually doesn’t win them.
Your lack of common sense decision was the field goal attempt by Miguel Recinos. Why Miguel Recinos? Did Keith Duncan do something wrong? He’d made the two field goals he’d attempted previously. Sure, they were only like 25 yarders but why would you put someone in there who hadn’t attempted a field goal all year? If you were so concerned about distance, why not use Coluzzi, who habitually blasts the ball out of the endzone on kickoffs?
Did Iowa punt from inside an opponent’s 40-yard line? They sure did!
Did Iowa get the ball back with just under two minutes before the half, only to get penalized and for Kirk Ferentz to curl up in a ball on the sideline and pray for halftime? YES!
The Ugly: Discipline
Keeping in line with a lack of common sense, what was C.J. Beathard doing out there? Forcing throws, making ill-advised runs, UNNECESSARY SUPERMAN DIVES. I think the offensive line issues are messing with C.J. Beathard’s internal clock. He doesn’t think he has time when he actually does. He starts to protect himself because he thinks the sack is coming, even when it isn’t. The fact that he’s out there taking hits like he did on that slide probably don’t help things. He doesn’t need to get better. He just needs to get smarter and stop turning the ball over.
Oh, Riley McCarron. Why? Two drops? A fumble? Is he really Iowa’s best option at wide receiver? If he struggles to catch MULTIPLE screen passes, why are you still calling screen plays to him? A reminder that not long ago, Akrum Wadley was kicked all the way off the depth chart due to fumbling issues. But apparently, because McCarron is a senior, he’s “earned it” and is above reproach. McCarron is a solid slot receiver but he isn’t a #1 receiver.
Iowa fumbled the ball three times on Saturday but was fortunate enough to only give up one. There were the two C.J. Beathard interceptions. If Old Kirk truly is back they need to take better care of the ball.
New Kirk is dead. Long live Old Kirk.