The Good, Bad & Ugly 2019: Minnesota

By Mike Jones on November 18, 2019 at 12:12 pm
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: Getting the Ball to Playmakers, Nate Stanley, Defensive Line

It only took 10 games for Ferentz & Co. to realize that “Hey, there are some superstars in the making on this team and maybe we should shape our offense around them” but they finally did. Better late than never, I suppose, as Tyler Goodson and Tyrone Tracy were the straws that stirred the drink for the Iowa offense on Saturday. Goodson rushed 13 times for 94 yards, a robust 7.2 YPC, and scored a touchdown. Tracy caught 6 passes for 77 yards, a 12.8 YPR and had a long of 27 yards. This move right here was a gem:

Are there concerns? Of course! Tracy drops some balls he shouldn’t and Goodson fumbled once so he’ll be labeled as having “ball security issues” for at least the next year or so. They’re also freshmen, one just turning 19, and have all the time in the world to hone their skills. Iowa hasn’t had a running back like Goodson in a long time, if ever. Tracy shows DJK-level playmaking abilities as a redshirt freshman. They are the future and Ferentz was extremely wise to make the future now.

Did Nate Stanley play the best game of his career? I’ll hear arguments. Did Nate run straight backwards when he felt pressure a couple of times? Of course! Did he also make some extremely BDE throws and scramble to keep a drive alive in the 4th quarter that ended with an Iowa field goal, making it a two possession game? Yes, he did those things. 14/23 for 173 yards and two touchdowns isn’t a stat line that jumps off the page to the neutral observer. Yet, statistically, it was his best game by quarterback rating against Big Ten teams not named Rutgers and more importantly, he made plays. Iowa doesn’t win the game without Stanley making those plays.

Speaking of making plays when needed, this defensive line. Now, Minnesota did pass a lot, affording more opportunities to get to the quarterback, but that doesn’t necessarily spell success for a defensive line. In all, the line totaled 4 sacks, 3 pass breakups and a forced fumble. A.J. Epenesa, naturally, was your star:

Notice that Eppy moved to the interior? Yeah, he should be allowed to do that whenever he feels like. As MGoBlog said:

Golston was also very disruptive, batting down two balls and how about Joe Evans, the redshirt freshman walk-on that notched 3 tackles and 1.5 sacks? A group effort from this squad, that stepped up when the game was on the line and shut down the Minnesota passing game.

The Bad: “Parts” of the Secondary

Disclaimer: Minnesota’s wide-receiver depth chart is one of the best in the Big Ten and they were going to get their yards. Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman are absurd football players. The two of them alone amassed over 250 yards and a touchdown on only 15 receptions. That’s good.

With that out of the way:

  1. Jack Koerner cannot possibly be the best option at free safety. (This isn’t a question)
  2. Is Dane Belton the best Cash option? (This is a question)
  3. Where are Kaevon Merriweather and D.J. Johnson?

It was rough watching Koerner play on Saturday. There were flashbacks to the Purdue games, when Brohm would have his quarterback relentlessly target Iowa’s weakest cornerback and there was seemingly nothing the Hawkeyes could do. It was that but they just passed in, near, or immediately around Koerner’s position. And when things were at their worst and he had an opportunity to redeem himself by catching Tanner Morgan’s worst pass of the game (or year)…it casually bounced off his fingertips onto the Kinnick turf.

The Ugly: Nothing That Wasn’t Said Last Week

Iowa was favored in this game. There was an expectation they could win. I think we all knew they might win because again, Iowa plays their best when they don’t have expectations like “winning the division.” They could very well win out and finish in the top 15. Hell, they could somehow backdoor their way into the New Year’s Six if things get wacky enough at the top. That’s a nice consolation for a team that seemingly could’ve had more but:

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