THE GOOD, BAD & UGLY 2017: MINNESOTA

By Mike Jones on October 30, 2017 at 12:27 pm
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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The Good: Joshua Jackson

Remember before the season when we were all like “Manny Rugamba is the real deal but what about the cornerback on the other side of the field?” Instead, through eight weeks of football, it’s the exact opposite. Josh Jackson is the best cornerback (if not defensive back) on the field and it’s his opposite that is struggling. True enough, Rugamba was suspended the first game of the season and is battling through injuries but at the end of the day, Josh Jackson’s improvement has been something to behold.

Just how good has Josh Jackson been? From Pro Football Focus:

I understand that Minnesota’s quarterback is…not the best. Still, Jackson has been stellar in coverage this season, and now leads the nation in passes defended, averaging 2.1 per game. He has a total of 17, with two interceptions. The next closest player Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson, who is averaging 1.8 per game. Just check out his coverage that leads to the Gervase interception in the end zone.

Jackson’s ascent reminds me of Amari Spievey’s junior year. The difference was that Spievey never really stood out or put up numbers because no one tested him. The opposite is true for Jackson. Quarterbacks keep testing him and he keeps passing the tests. If Jackson continues to play at this high level there’s going to be a serious discussion of him foregoing his senior year for the NFL Draft.

The Bad: Third Down Offense

Looking at the final score you could probably get away with just saying that Iowa’s offense was bad in general. But, to their credit, they at the very least eclipsed 300 total yards for only the second time in Big Ten play. There were also turnovers on big plays. Had Ihmir Smith-Marsette actually caught that beautiful deep pass from Stanley, he probably would’ve scored. Had James Butler not fumbled, Iowa was inside Minnesota’s 25-yard line and would’ve at least had a field goal attempt before the end of the half.

Those excuses aside, Iowa’s real problem on offense is their inability to convert on third down. The Hawkeyes are ranked 79th in the nation in third-down percentage, only converting 38% of the time. Their 3/14 performance against Minnesota was even worse than usual. 

It’s true that the Hawkeyes often face third and long thanks to inefficient calls on first and second down. Consider that of the 14 third downs Iowa faced on Saturday, 10 of them were 5+ yards. This offense usually goes something like: run for 2-3 yards, incomplete pass, and now it’s third and 6-7. It would be easier for Iowa to just get better on first and second down. Unfortunately, we’re now into the final days of October and Iowa continues to not be good on first and second down so the offense should focus more on the money down. 

The Ugly: The Brian Ferentz Thing

If you weren’t on social media during the game (LOL WHO ISN’T ON SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THE GAME) you probably didn’t hear about this:

That Iowa assistant turned out to be Brian Ferentz, who was upset at the replay officials in the press box following the review of the James Butler fumble late in the second quarter. How bad was it, you ask?

There are unwritten rules of etiquette for coaches and reporters in the press box. It’s an office setting, so you’re expected to act in a professional manner. Reporters aren’t supposed to cheer for teams (unless you’re Randy Peterson). So Brian Ferentz going on an explicit tirade within earshot of everyone because he was upset about a call is not a good look. Yes, it would’ve been totally acceptable if he was coaching from the sideline. But he wasn’t on the sideline. Ferentz is already under fire because his offense is playing Cro-Magnon football. Let’s not give people other reasons not to like you, okay Brian?

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