The Good: Halftime Adjustments
It might not seem like it considering Iowa finished 7-5 on the regular season but they actually outscored their opponents in the second halves of eight games. Tack on the Pinstripe Bowl and you’ve got nine. That’s not too shabby, considering how Iowa looked in the first half. How bad was it, you ask?
Well, Boston College led 17-10 at the half. They had 13 first downs to Iowa’s 5. BC Quarterback Darius Wade was 10/14 for 127 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and no sacks. Nate Stanley was 4/8 for 33 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 sacks. AJ Dillon was BC’s leading rusher with 126 yards on 18 attempts, good for 7 YPC and a touchdown. James Butler was Iowa’s leading rusher with 24 yards on 4 attempts, good for 6 YPC. Overall, BC had outrushed Iowa 154 to 23 and had a total of 281 offensive yards to Iowa’s 56. Ugh.
Iowa’s problems on offense were twofold. First off, Iowa’s passing game was primarily out of play-action or shotgun. There were very few quick passes. This caused issues as Iowa’s offensive line was struggling with the BC pass rush, their own footing, and Stanley was flat out holding onto the ball for too long. Second off, Iowa tried a horizontal rushing attack with Akrum Wadley playing on an ice rink. Wadley couldn’t cut due to the field conditions and needless to say, Iowa’s rushing attack was inept until James Butler came into the game, ran straight up the field and started getting some solid yardage.
On defense, Iowa was simply getting blown off the line by BC. They couldn’t get any pressure on the quarterback and Dillon was getting 5-6 yards up the middle. I mean, straight up the middle. He wasn’t even having to cut or anything. That was unacceptable. It didn’t help that BC ran a series of crossing/pick routes that had our linebackers chasing running backs/slot wide receivers. Seriously, kudos to OC Scot Loeffler for that gameplan. Or maybe kudos to Jim Reid telling Addazio what type of defense Iowa was going to run on every play and how to exploit it.
And then the second half came. Dillon was held to 33 rushing yards. Wade was sacked twice, including a strip sack fumble recovery by the Hawkeyes. He was also intercepted. Nate Stanley wasn’t sacked in the second half. Iowa continued to struggle to effectively run the ball but Wadley had a much easier time, averaging 4.6 YPC. The Hawkeyes had better push on both sides of the line in the second half, slowing BC’s rushing attack and getting pressure on their QB. The offensive line did a great job protecting Stanley and giving Wadley/Butler and Drake MF’ing Kulick room to run. I’m not sure what was said at halftime but congratulations to the coaches for igniting a fire under the asses of every Iowa player in that locker room.
The Bad: Iowa’s Punting
Listen, it’s not personal. We’ve known it all season and we saw it yet again on Wednesday: Colten Rastetter is not an FBS punter and continuing to field him hurts this football team. With the first half coming to a close, Iowa was pinned deep in their own territory with less than a minute left on the clock. They needed a solid punt from Rastetter to keep BC out of field goal range. Rastetter responds with a 20-yard punt. TWENTY. YARDS. BC got the ball at Iowa’s 42 with 24 seconds left and drove it to the 19. Fortunately, they missed because their kicker isn’t very good but if he was competent, Iowa would’ve taken a 20-10 deficit into halftime.
Rastetter finished the day with 6 punts for 195 yards, good for a 32.5 average with a long of 41. In comparison, Nate Stanley punted the ball once for 33 yards. I don’t subscribe to some conspiracy theory where Rastetter only keeps his job because of his last name but I cannot for the life of me understand how he’s the first option at punter.
The Ugly: The Pinstripe Bowl
Ban this bowl. Ban it. Forget the fact that fans have to go to New York between Christmas and New Years. Forget that it’s freezing in New York in December. Forget that Mack Brown and Booger are the worst color commentators on ESPN. The field at Yankee Stadium was frozen because it isn’t heated and it turned into an ice rink. That’s dangerous. That’s not fun. I saw multiple BC players get injured when their heads hit the turf. Neither team should have to deal with it. I don’t care about the “experience.” And while I know the NCAA and the bowl could care less about player safety, some people do care about the players and it isn’t a lot to ask for the field to be heated. Are the Steinbrenners short on money or something? Heat the field or call the bowl off.