The Good, The Bad, The Ugly 2020: Illinois

By Mike Jones on December 7, 2020 at 2:01 pm
© Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
© Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Good: O-Line, Tory Taylor, the Mindset

The first quarter wasn’t great. Saying nothing of the defense giving up two 70+ yard touchdown drives, Iowa’s offense was, in a word, pathetic. But come the second quarter it was like everyone realized “wow, things are really bad, let’s do something” and everything changed. Kudos to the mentality of this team and coaches for not packing it up with a 14-0 deficit like a number of fans wanted to do.

A big part of Iowa turning things around was establishing the run. The team rushed for 204 yards, with Tyler Goodson leading the way with 97, and Mekhi Sargent following up with 54. Most importantly, the Hawkeyes averaged a crisp 5.37 YPC. This was thanks in large part to Iowa’s offensive line getting some good push and Tyler Linderbaum going absolutely HAM on defensive linemen. Entering the season it was Alaric Jackson who was on the NFL radar. He still is, of course, but it’s Linderbaum who should be catching the eye of scouts. Yes, even as a sophomore. He’s been that good.

Speaking of good… give Tory Taylor all of the awards. The stats are good and fine: five punts, 42-yard average, long of 54 and two inside of the 20. That’s great! Yet, he deserves credit because things actually could’ve been worse than 14-0. He played an integral part of the field position game and the turning point came in the second quarter, when Iowa actually managed to pick up a first down. When the drive stalled, Taylor came in and punted to the Illini 13-yard line. They went three and out and punted, giving Iowa the ball at their 48-yard line. The Hawkeyes scored and it was thanks in part to Taylor flipping the field.

The Bad: The First 20ish In-Game Minutes

Iowa’s first two drives were three and outs and they moved the ball a whole seven yards. Spencer Petras was playing so poorly that the announcers were actually laughing at his overthrows. The team looked unprepared and everything was pretty rotten. The corner was turned as Petras settled down (kind of) and they started moving the ball on the ground. Once Iowa got over that hump, it was over for the Illini.

The Ugly: That Purdue Loss

The greatest gift given to Northwestern was not having to play a non-conference schedule this season. Because if they had to play the likes of Tulane and Central Michigan again, who knows what would’ve happened.

Same for Iowa, had they actually beaten Purdue. Not sure what it is but Jeff Brohm has Kirk Ferentz’s number. Unfortunately for Jeff Brohm, he has no one else’s number, as the Boilers lost to Nebraska 37-27 and dropped to 2-4 on the year. In the four seasons under Brohm the Boilers have gone 7-6, 6-7, 4-8, and will likely finish 2-5. Iowa’s loss to this bad football team got them off on the wrong foot and yet again, a silly loss to Purdue is a blemish on an otherwise very fine season.

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