MSU Roughs Up Hawkeyes

Michigan State and Iowa entered the game with bruising reputations and most felt this game would be decided by the defenses and which offenses stayed out of the way the most.

In the end, the Spartans lived up to their defensive billing, the Iowa offense looked like it did in 2012 and the Hawkeyes lost the game in convincing fashion 26-14.

The Iowa offense looked lost for 55 of the 60 minutes.  It didn’t gain a first down until there were less than six minutes left in the first half and then the Hawks went on back to back scoring drives, primarily via the air and led 14-10 at the break.

MSU came out and scored a touchdown to start the second half and the Iowa offense didn’t make it out of the locker room.  Well, they did literally make it out of the locker room, but had they not, they would have scored the same number of second half points; zero.  Iowa had 161 yards in the first half thanks to those two late drives and when they got the ball back with under five minutes to play in the game, they had gained just 210.

The defense struggled on this day, allowing Michigan State QB Connor Cook to get off for nearly 300 yards, but the Hawks were still within shouting distance when the game moved into the fourth quarter.  The Spartans were just past the Iowa 40 yard line and were lined up to punt.  They snapped it and took off with the fake; nothing fancy, just the punter running for the longest rush of the day for either team.  You know, the stuff that happens to Iowa a lot.  How many fake punt conversions is that against Iowa in recent years?

Today’s fake punt conversion would be the 7th attempt and 7th successful conversion on Iowa since the start of the 2010 season.  Repeat:  Seven attempted fake punts, seven successful fake punts on Iowa in the last three and a half seasons.  I would hazard a guess that many coaches don’t have seven successful fake punt conversions against them in a career, much less three and a half years.

That fake was as backbreaker as it led to a field goal, which extended Michigan State’s lead to two possessions.  Iowa’s offense didn’t have any answers and that was your ball game.

Here are some quick takeaways from this one:

THE OFFENSE:  Not as good as we thought it was but I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.  They played against one of the Top Ten defenses in the nation and the defense that came into this game number one in the country against the run AND pass.  Jake Rudock threw the ball 46 times, which will likely be his career high.  This happened because Iowa could not run the ball; they managed 23 yards on 16 attempts.  Michigan State will make a lot of teams look silly this year so I am not yet ready to give up on this offense.

THE DEFENSE: They were on the field a lot in this game as the offense didn’t gain a first down until nearly halftime.  That said, they didn’t get any real pass rush with just the front four.  They had to dial up blitzes and those didn’t get home and Cook looked great, which he had yet to look in his career.  This group is going to be stout against the run, which you have to have.  However their troubles against the pass could help to contribute to a bowl-less 2013 season, too.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  Just a fail on the fake punt.  Seven fake punt attempts that have been converted in three and a half years is squarely on the shoulders of Kirk Ferentz.  Something is broken and he doesn’t know how to fix it.  If he did, he would have done it by now.  Iowa’s scheme appears broken; it’s a failure.  Regarding the fake, Ferentz said the following on the radio after the game when asked about the fake punt by Ed Podolak:

“We may never return another punt.  It’s just one of those things.  That cost us three points and time off the clock. ”

With all due respect, it’s not just one of those things.  Not when it’s the seventh time it’s happened to you in three and a half years without your team stopping it once.

HEALTH: At some point in this game Iowa had lost Brandon Scherff, Mark Weisman, Carl Davis, Kevonte Martin-Manley and Dominic Alvis to injury.  Weisman barely played, KMM never saw the field in the second half and Alvis disappeared, too.  Christian Kirksey also limped off the field late in garbage time.  Iowa needs the bye week as this was a physical contest.  Their games against Michigan State have exacted a heavy physical toll dating back to 2009 when Colin Sandeman and Dace Richardson were knocked out, among others.  Ferentz said in the post game that he feels they dodged a bullet with Kirksey.

There will be plenty of time this bye week for midseason report cards and we’ll do that with every positional grouping.  We learned a lot about this team on Saturday and most of it is concerning; they are not out of the woods yet and the second half of the season sees Iowa play four of six games against teams who are currently ranked.  Michigan State was not a ranked team and neither is Wisconsin, who is also on Iowa’s schedule.

Here we go again?  I’m not ready to write that yet but with a bye week and Iowa’s next game looking at The Shoe, it’s tough to find shreds of optimism.

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Game Notes Provided by Iowa Sports Information:

QB Jake Rudock completed touchdown passes to Damon Bullock (47 yards) and C.J. Fiedorowicz (10 yards). He has eight touchdown passes this season, five of which have been for 20-plus yards.

After starting the game 1-4 for 5 yards, QB Jake Rudock finished the half completing 11 straight passes for 138 yards.

RB Damon Bullock’s 47-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter is the longest play Michigan State has allowed this season. It is also the longest reception of Bullock’s career.

Three Hawkeyes finished the game matching or setting career highs in receptions and yards. WR Tevaun Smith caught a career-best six passes for a career-high 59 yards. Smith’s 36-yard reception in the second quarter was a career long. RB Damon Bullock matched his career high with five catches for a career-high 71 yards. WR Matt Vandeberg caught a career-best four receptions for a career-high 36 yards.

LB James Morris and LB Anthony Hitchens led Iowa with a game-high 12 tackles. Senior LBs Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey rank third and 11th, respectively, among Big Ten leading tacklers. Morris has been credited with double-digit tackle games 16 times in his career, while Hitchens has 11 double-digit tackle games. Morris moves into 13th place on Iowa career tackles list. He has 336 career stops, trailing Melvin Foster (337), Aaron Kampman (342), and Dave Haight (346) for a spot inside the top 10.

K Mike Meyer made two PAT attempts, increasing his streak to 102 consecutive PATs, which is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation and ranks fifth best all-time in the Big Ten.
LB James Morris recorded his third interception of the season today. The Hawkeyes have recorded nine interceptions through six games. Iowa has 92 interceptions since the start of 2008. Entering today, the Hawkeyes’ 91 interceptions over that period rank seventh in the nation.

TE C.J. Fiedorowicz caught three passes today to extend his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 24. WR Kevonte Martin-Manley saw his similar streak end at 23 games. Martin-Manley left the game in the second quarter with a right leg injury and did not return. Fiedorowicz has 70 catches for 666 yards over the last 24 games, and has caught all six career touchdowns during the streak.

CB Desmond King and SS John Lowdermilk both recorded career highs in tackles. King made 11 stops, and Lowdermilk finished with nine tackles.

Iowa held its opponent scoreless in the first quarter for the fifth straight game.

Iowa outscored Michigan State 14-10 in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 86-20 in the second quarter this season.

Iowa lost the turnover battle for just the second time this season. The Hawkeyes are 0-2 in those games (Northern Illinois (Northern Illinois, -2; Michigan State, -1). Iowa is 4-0 when winning turnover margin.

The Hawkeyes have converted on 103 consecutive PATs without a miss or block, and 36 consecutive games without a missed or blocked PAT, the seventh-longest streak of any school in the nation.

Michigan State won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Iowa has started the game on offense in 146-of-180 games under Kirk Ferentz, including three times this season. The Hawkeyes started on offense against Northern Illinois (L, 30-27), at Minnesota (W, 23-7), and against Michigan State (L, 26-14).

Iowa will be idle next Saturday before returning to action at Ohio State on Oct. 19 (2:30 p.m. CT). The contest in Columbus, Ohio, will be televised by ABC.

  • Joyce Lee


    • fred

      Very Disappointed, I will not be making the trip now for the Michigan game.

    • westsidebill

      So pretty much the way you’ve felt for a majority of Iowa’s games since the beginning of 2005?

  • jeffbuck

    The special teams play is terrible. The fake punt is on Ferentz. What is up here? How hard is it to tell the receiving special team to expect the fake every time the other team punts? This will not lead to spectacular blocking on the return, but as against first-downs for the kicking team? Also, who was it that didn’t try and catch a punt at about the 30 and watched with the rest of us as it trickled down to like the 10? Also, what’s up with the consistently crappy coverage on our punts and kickoffs? We never stop the runner with the first group. They’re slithering through to the second wave almost every time, resulting in a lot of good field position for the opposition. Boy, hard game to watch. The next few weeks set up terrible too. We mull this over for two weeks, then we get clobbered by Ohio State in Columbus, then another week to lick our wounds till we have some kind of a chance vs. Northwestern and Wisconsin, two teams that are clearly better than us. We look like 4-5 going into Purdue, and 5-7 looks likely. Will Ferentz weather this?

  • Hi there

    Didn’t they stop a fake punt @ Purdue in 2011?

    • westsidebill


  • Steve

    Technically iowa did stop a fake punt against Purdue in 2011, but the Purdue punter fumbled it himself so they kind of stopped themselves.

  • louie

    the fake punt is beyond ridiculous.First off,our returner was in there to just fair catch the ball.he had no intention on ever catching and running with the ball.secondly,I believe they were punting on our side of the field.There is no way there would of been a return even if Manley was in there.The ball is fair caught inside 20 or goes into endzone.also,if you’re not going to Play Daniels why did you pull his redshirt?to play him 10 carries vs high school teams.lastly,do we even scout our competition on the offensive side?the first quarter on offense of every game has been a train wreck.

  • Sam

    Not going to get season tickets next year again. Rather watch us lose in HD. Maybe Fran can coach football too?

  • Rockies50198

    The team had their head up their butt, poor play, poor coaching and poor play calling.

  • Rockies50198

    The coach better get his butt in gear and win games or he will be looking for a job soon. My guess he is going to feel the heat, resign and look for a broadcast career.

    • westsidebill

      Apparently you’re new to the Ferentz contract situation…

  • Rockies50198

    With the talent Iowa has there is no excuse! it’s all about coaching here. all the coaches are failing to get the team ready for the game, the team heads are elsewhere, they are not fired up, not prepared in all aspects.

  • Rockies50198

    The miss call by the refs were not scoring miss calls so coach what is your excuse? It’s time you take the blame here. to watch this game from the stands was very painful and sit there and watch the team do stupid things. The athletic director needs to take a serious look at the coaching staff. You sir are not doing your job to let this university fall behind on athletic performance in the football program.

  • Bill Roederer

    Rockies, I’m guessing Coach Ferentz isn’t going to be reading your post anytime soon, so really no need to call him out on the missed calls utilizing this venue. Now, if you want to visit with the coach in Ames, you may have something there. I’ve heard that coach may react differently, as compared to the classy individual that resides in Iowa City. So, lighten up Francis, and lets hope we can get to 6 wins this season and get to a bowl. 6 – 6 would be decent this year with a Sophomore QB playing for the first time and will only improve the next two years. Keep the hope alive Rockies. It’s great to be a HAWK!!!!

    • westsidebill

      Classy and a highly mediocre record since 2005.

  • Rockies50198

    What’s going to cost the program more his contract or tickets sold, students attending, not to mention other income to the program, like loss of bowl income. TV coverage, and it it gets worse with much more and to the local economy in Iowa City, IA. OK you were saying!

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