Hawkeyes Dominate Gophers, Again

Minnesota was battered, bullied and bruised in their loss at Iowa last year and vowed that things would be different this time around. Mark Weisman’s 150-yard first half from a year ago served as motivation this offseason in the weight room. We were told that Minnesota’s 4-0 start to this season was better and different from their empty 4-0 from a year ago.

On Saturday in a rain soaked Minneapolis, the song remained the same as Iowa gained 246 yards on the ground en route to a 23-7 win against the somewhat disliked Gophers.

Jake Rudock improved to 2-0 as a starter in road games, including his win at Iowa State. The environments in Columbus and Lincoln will be much more raucous than Ames and Minneapolis, but he’s handled the road environments quite well for a sophomore who played in just his fifth collegiate game. Drew Tate set the standard for sophomore seasons for an Iowa quarterback back in 2004, but outside of that performance, I think Rudock has had the best start I can ever recall for someone so young.

Ricky Stanzi showed a short memory in 2008, but he had taken snaps and was not the starter from game one. He looks more under control than Matt Rodgers did in 1989, but Matt didn’t have much to work with. Then again, it’s not like Rudock does, either. Chuck Long was 157-265 for 2,601 yards and 14 TD passes as a sophomore in 1983. Rodgers was 178-312 for 2,222 yards and 12 TD passes as a sophomore in 1989. Stanzi was 150-254 for 1,956 yards and 14 TD passes in 2008.

Jake is on a pace for over 2,300 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes, which would rank favorably from a statistical standpoint with those sophs. However, he is near the top of the list as far as pocket demeanor is concerned; he’s cool and has a great presence. He also has 128 rushing yards and is a better runner than any of the aforementioned QB’s.

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He threw for 218 yards on 15 of 25 which included at least two drops. He threw one interception, trying to squeeze a pass into Tevaun Smith in the endzone just two steps too late. His TD pass went to the electric Damond Powell who took at tunnel screen 74 yards for a score. Powell’s speed from catch to score is something we haven’t seen from an Iowa player since Tim Dwight roamed the sidelines in Kinnick. His score made it 17-0 and gave Iowa some breathing room.

Mark Weisman led all rushers with 147 yards on 24 carries. He really got into his groove in the second half as the left side of the Iowa offensive line wore down the Gophers.

Iowa finished the game with a 36:01 to 23:59 time of possession advantage and ran a season low 70 plays, but the Gophers ran just 51.

As impressive as Weisman, Rudock and the offensive line were, the Iowa defense stole the show for me.

The biggest offseason question, at least in my mind, was how many strides could the defensive line make this year? Without significant improvement, Iowa’s experience at linebacker was going to be glossed over as they just can’t play cleanly unless the front four are soaking up blockers.

Through five games, nearly half the season, the Iowa defensive line has proven to be much better than they were in 2012 and possibly 2011. As a group, I think they are better than the 2011 group but they had Mike Daniels in the middle.

Iowa was able to get some pressure with the front four today and even if it didn’t result in boat load of sacks, they forced the ball to come out early. Minnesota was challenged in the passing game to begin with and this really helped throw them out of their comfort zone.

Iowa’s linebackers played great again this week and the defense held Minnesota to just 165 total yards, including 30 on the ground. Prior to Saturday’s game, Minnesota had averaged 288 yards rushing per game through their first four contests. Iowa gained 22 first downs to Minnesota’s 11 and the defense held the Gophers to just 4 of 13 on third down while Iowa was 8 of 14.

Dominic Alvis and Louis Trinca-Pasat really stood out to me today, and LTP is getting stronger as the year goes along. Minnesota spent a lot of time looking at Carl Davis and when you add it all up, the linebackers are able to suck it up; Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey combined for 23 tackles on Minnesota’s 51 plays.

Iowa wins its fourth game of the year, matching last year’s win total. They will eclipse it and while I had them at 4-1 at this point, I didn’t think they’d look this good from a physical standpoint, nor did I think the quarterback play would be this good.

Iowa’s play on both sides of the line of scrimmage are starting to harken back to the best of the Kirk Ferentz era.

In the out of season, some asked me if I saw any parallels to the 2007 to 2008 seasons for Iowa. I really didn’t see it because the 2007 defense was a lot better than the 2012 Iowa defense…and I felt it was mostly wishful thinking.

After five games, this team is reminding me a bit of that bunch. I don’t think this year’s defense will be anything like the 2008 group, but the offensive line is playing well and the defensive line is getting back to holding its own on the line, which is a must in this league.

Considering how Jake Rudock has played and the skill set he brings to the table, I don’t think eight wins are out of the realm of possibility now, something I would not have written five weeks ago. I am not saying they will get there and if they do, they have to win next week against Michigan State.

That game is going to be incredibly physical and Iowa will be able to lay it all on the line as they have a bye week following the game. Michigan State’s offense is not good, but they will have had this week to work on things as it was their bye.

I think Iowa has a very good chance to get to 5-1, which is what I picked them before the year began. But I had them going just 1-5 on the other side, which included a loss at Purdue. That game looks so much more winnable now than I saw it this summer, so if the Hawks can beat Michigan State, a bowl game would seem likely.

The biggest bugaboo for this Iowa team thus far is finishing. Iowa should have scored 35 to 40 points today without much of a stretch of the imagination. They wound up scoring just 23, which leaves you open to flukes and short fields plus onside kicks. Iowa has got to do a better job of getting points in every trip to the 30 and closer. They doinked a field goal off the uprights today and Jake Rudock threw a redzone interception. Iowa also punted from just inside its own 40 on its first drive of the game after it stalled.

Lastly, place kicker Mike Meyers deserves mention..he made field goals from 49 and 44 yards plus a chip shot.

First things first; enjoy this win, the fact that Floyd returns to Iowa City and that for all of their talk of Hating Iowa and the like, the Gophers fans still must deal with this harsh reality; when it comes to physical play, the Gophers cannot hang with the Hawkeyes.

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  • Joyce Lee

    should have had pass interference in the end zone before the last field goal was made.

  • RealityCheck

    A well officiated game, it seemed, but there were two glaring mistakes:

    Joyce Lee has pointed out one egregious error: How can that be missed wide open in the end zone? Incredible.

    The other was a blatant and extended hold of Damond Powell as he tried to get off the line of scrimmage. He was all but tackled, but no flag. That cannot be allowed to happen.

    And if Iowa could cover kickoffs, they’d have shut out the Minny Golden Haters. Time for some personnel changes on the kickoff team. Or kick it stadium high down to the 20 so they have to fair catch it.

    Anyway, nice to keep Floyd where he belongs.

  • CowardlyLion

    Conservative Kirk kept Minny in the game again. Iowa should have won 41-0. Check the stats. Minny couldn’t do a thing on either side of the ball, yet there the Hawkeyes were, sweating it out at the end again. Please… Someone give KF some courage before next Saturday. He reminds me of the Cowardly Lion: Now where’s that Wizard of Oz to explain to Kirk he’s braver than he thinks?

    • Levi VanderMolen

      Quit whining. If Kirk went for it on 4th down and didn’t get it, you’d still be complaining.

    • Jayme Koerselman

      I unfortunately have to agree. A subtle but clear message is sent to your offense when you take a knee with 41 sec. to go and a timeout before the half. And why in the world are they snapping the ball with 15 sec. left on the play clock on the last drive when you’re trying to milk the clock?!! Easy coaching mistakes in my mind.

      • westsidebill

        Running the clock out before half was fine.

        NOT going for it before the first field goal was a mistake.

        • Jayme Koerselman

          Running the clock is “fine” but again in the long term to me it says, “playing not to lose and I don’t have confidence to even just take a shot down the field”.

    • Optomistic Hawk Fan

      Concur. He seems to be getting better. Maybe he is ready the blogs!

    • Johnnie

      Cowardly Lion, and who are you to cast judgment on a team and coach that just beat Minny that has a defense that was ranked 12 in the nation??? Iowa was favored by 1.5 points

  • louie

    my only negative comment is that we still don’t use play action to TE.with the line we have we should be running play action 10-15 times a game.one of our TES should be first team big 10 this year,but they won’t because we don’t throw them the ball.instead we just throw it up for grabs down the sideline.makes no sense.we need to get bullock out of there ,also.

  • jeffbuck

    Unlike others, I didn’t have much trouble with the coaching in this one. Ferentz made no decision that bothered me much, and Davis is getting into a rhythm with the play-calling for this team…. Rudock continues to impress. Jon covered the main thing: He is one cool customer. Working the pocket, I think he’s going to our best since Chuck Long. Moreover, like Chuck Long, he is fearless on third down…. Footnote re: Powell. Needless to say, we need to use him more. Is the end-around worth a try vs. Mich. St.? The critical thing is that he’s got to be lined up but NOT USED sometimes. If he’s only coming in for a shot at a Big Play, the likes of Mich. St. won’t have much trouble containing him. At any rate, I see no reason to be saving him now. What for?

    • jeffbuck

      P.S. – A guy like Rudock is what you want in the cliff-hangers. And there are many to come.

      • westsidebill

        I prefer 2-score wins; KF has proven to be a big dud in close games over his career.

        • jeffbuck

          No argument there, but the better our QBs, the better we’ve done in the close ones. And anyway, there are going to be close ones, whether we like it or not.

    • Tim Schoh

      You said you didn’t have any beef with Kirk and then followed with a plea to use Powell more. You contradicted yourself. Kirk has never coached a perfect game (neither has anyone else) and today he did make some mistakes. Punting in enemy territory when you have the stronger team is usually a mistake. Today though it did not bite them.

      • jeffbuck

        A contradiction? What is this, a freaking examination in rhetoric? I beef about KF all the time, but didn’t have much in this instance.

  • Optomistic Hawk Fan

    Rudock doesn’t have much to work with. An insult to the receiving corps, including that great stable of tight ends that get only a few targets per game. I think that comment was uncalled for, all things considered..

    • westsidebill

      No, Jon was correct. Forget the hurt feelings: WHO is Rudock working with that makes the defense nervous?

      Answer: nobody. No one has proven a thing yet. This is big boy football and you don’t receive respect, you EARN it.

      • Optomistic Hawk Fan

        Hopefully by the end of the season some of them will have earned it. That being said, I have heard/read how good CJF is for the past 4 years… Still waiting. Isn’t he on a “watch list” somewhere?

        • westsidebilltx

          Sure he is. But he doesn’t scare anyone. Nobody Iowa has DOES – except maybe Powell a little bit, and that’s speed-related more than ability right now. I hope that several DO earn some respect in the B1G by the end of the year.

  • goldkey

    One likely TD taken away by officiating, another by int. Poor kick coverage gives mn even a chance for a TD. Not too much of a stretch to have had this a 34-0 game with just continued poor kick coverage the only real gripe.

    How is this looked at as a conservative and bad job of offensive coaching and strategy?

  • FactsAreFacts

    FACT: Urban Meyer, whether at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, or Ohio State, plays to win.

    FACT: Urban Meyer averages going on fourth down three times a game and making it about 80% of the time. Kirk Ferentz has gone on fourth down about three times in 15 years at Iowa.

    FACT: Iowa gave up the last 30 seconds or so of the first half on Saturday, taking a knee and heading to the locker room content with the lead and afraid of making a mistake.

    FACT: Ohio State, with about 30 seconds left in the half and leading 17-14 over Wisconsin last night, kept firing 50-yard passes toward the end zone. One should have been intercepted around the five. A play or two later, with one second left, touchdown Ohio State.

    FACT: Ohio State wins by a touchdown, but do they if they play it safe and take a knee right before the half?

    FACT: Ohio State will have a nation’s longest 18-game winning streak on the line when Iowa visits in mid-October.

  • MoreFacts

    FACT: Who are YOU, Johnnie, to question my right to say whatever the devil I want? This is still a somewhat free country.

    FACT: Kirk Ferentz has led Iowa to 14 losses of three or fewer points over the last several seasons. Among those who have vanquished Iowa would be Western Michigan (twice), Central Michigan, and Minnesota (twice).

    FACT: CJF is the most over-hyped Hawkeye since Willie Guy. (Ever heard of Willie, Johnnie boy?)

    FACT: Iowa has much-needed speed in Damond Powell, so he spends most of the game on the bench. (If the offense is so complicated you have to be a pre-med major to grasp it, perhaps that’s a coaching problem.)

    FACT: Albert Einstein, you’ve heard of him, right, Johnnie? He said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible.” Of course, he was only a physicist, not D-1 head football coach, so what the heck did he know? After all nuclear physics and the relationship between space and time are one thing–running fast down the field and catching a football is a whole different animal–although it does involve both space and time.

    • Optomistic Hawk Fan

      Your facts are right on the money. It baffles me to think how a 3.8 million dollar man can’t see that…

  • Robert Boyd

    “somewhat disliked Gophers”. Beautiful

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