THE GOOD, BAD & UGLY 2017: WISCONSIN

By Mike Jones on November 13, 2017 at 4:58 pm
Easley Looking Up the Field

© Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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The Good: Josh Jackson

Who were you expecting? Dr. Livingstone? 

Jackson continued his absurd performances at cornerback with two pick sixes. Here they are in all their glory. #1:

And #2.

Jackson leads the nations in interceptions per game with .7 (which is a crazy statistic), passes defended with 23 and interceptions with 7. NCAA.com doesn’t rank interception return yards or interceptions returned for touchdowns but Sports Reference does and yes, Josh Jackson leads the nation in those categories as well. 

Sports Reference also keeps track of fun stats like single season records and career records for interceptions returned for touchdowns, yards, passes defended, etc. They only credit Jackson with 15 passes defended as they don’t count the interceptions (even though the NCAA credits him with 16 passes defended) but that places him at 8th on the list of Big Ten single-season leaders since 2005. He only needs eight more to take the lead. 

Iowa’s defense played a respectable game until they were simply worn down by Wisconsin. Jackson was not only a defensive star but he also played the role as Iowa’s entire offense. He scored the only points for the Hawkeyes on the day and for his efforts, he was named...wait, what? CO-DEFENSIVE player of the week? LOL. If that isn't going to win you the defensive player of the week award, what is?

The Bad: Discipline

Well, here we are again. 

Iowa committed five penalties for 32 yards, three turnovers and dropped one pass. Actually, the box score indicating that only *one* pass was dropped is just wrong, as there were at least *three* by my count. Penalties weren't killer but turnovers hurt the most. It was 14-17 in favor of Wisconsin before the early snap and fumble was returned for a touchdown to give the Badgers a 10-point lead. Later, when Iowa actually put together a few first downs and moved into Wisconsin territory, their drive was halted by a T.J. Edwards interception. With only a glimmer of hope remaining, down 14-31, Nathan Stanley flat out fumbled (read: dropped) the football (calling it a sack is bullshit) and gave the Badgers back the football at Iowa’s own 26-yard line.

Iowa went into this game a 10-point underdog. They needed to play a game with minimal mistakes to have a chance. Instead, they made some of the worst mistakes they’d made all season, nearly on consecutive drives. Of the four times Iowa had the ball in the third quarter, two were punts and two were turnovers. The schizophrenia this team shows home vs. away is worthy of a clinical study. 

The Ugly: The Entire Offensive Gameplan

Listen, you can tout Wisconsin’s defense all you want but when Ohio State hangs 50 on them in the Big Ten Championship I’ll be standing back here saying I told you so. The Badgers defense looked like 2011 Alabama because Iowa burned the Ohio State game tape, decided they could go back to playing Cro-Magnon football and somehow win a dogfight against the #8 team in the country.

Here’s the problem: Paul Chryst has Iowa figured out. Paul Chryst coached under Barry Alvarez and after that, Bret Bielema. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonard played for Alvarez. Chryst and Leonard learned football from guys who know how to beat Iowa because they modeled their program after Iowa and somehow made it better. Kirk and Brian Ferentz attempting to turn back the clock to 2005 to beat a team that plays an evolved brand of Iowa football is not a recipe for success. 

Against Ohio State, Iowa threw the ball on first down 11 times and rushed six times in the first half alone. Against Wisconsin, they threw the ball three times and rushed four times in the first half. Yes, the stats are skewed because Iowa recorded multiple first downs against Ohio State. Just consider that until the fourth quarter against Wisconsin, Iowa rushed seven times on first down and threw the ball four times. Yeah, I can't believe it didn't work either. 

Iowa has better success against teams when they come out throwing the ball on first down. I think we've known that all year. It certainly worked well against Ohio State when they put together sustained drives by passing on first down. Iowa reverted to their old gameplan of running on first down, passing on second and ????? on third against Wisconsin. The result was five first downs and 66 yards of total offense.

If Brian Ferentz was supposed to do something different than his predecessor, he isn’t doing it consistently. If he was supposed to do something different than his predecessor’s predecessor, he isn’t doing it consistently. The constant of the Kirk Ferentz offense is being able to run the ball. But if you can’t run it, what do you do? You make adjustments. Brian Ferentz was so successful against Ohio State because he gameplanned and his team executed. He didn’t gameplan for Wisconsin and failed to make adjustments when it didn’t work. He tried to run the same tired playbook. And we got the same tired result of another loss. 

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