The Worst Result: Hawkeyes Lose Opener

What would have been worse; getting blown out at home by Northern Illinois or actually showing a semblance of an offense for one half and then looking just like 2012 in the second and losing on a last second field goal?

Yeah, me too. I think what played out in Iowa City on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium was very, very tough to take.

Here are some quick takes with more to come through the night and weekend….

-Jake Rudock looked good in the first half. In the second half, he looked less than good but I might toss a little blame to Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis. Iowa had 3rd and 1 in the fourth quarter and Davis dials up a passing play and Rudock goes to Damon Powell deep down the middle. The throw was there and Powell slowed down a bit, otherwise it was six. Powell had to slow down in the first half when he caught a 49-yard pass from Rudock, otherwise that was six. Rudock also under-threw Jordan Cotton on a flea flicker that went for a lot of yards. There’s 14 hidden points for Iowa that it didn’t get. But dialing up a deep play like that on 3rd and 1 when you have Mark Weisman and a future NFL left tackle? Didn’t make sense to me. Then on Iowa’s last real possession, with the game tied and under 1:40 to play and Iowa in great field position, Iowa calls a pass play on first down, a down and out in the flat and the corner jumped the route. That was the game. I don’t blame Rudock here, I blame Greg Davis. Why do you put your quarterback in that position given the QB has never taken a snap in college before? He made mistakes, doesn’t have a big arm but he shows a lot of poise and has a good grasp of the ‘system’, whatever that is.

-Iowa had over 300 yards in the first half. They ran 47 plays! Iowa scored 24 points in the first half (the offense scored 17 of those points). They ran several different speeds and they went five wide at times and really showed a semblance of actually looking like an FBS offense. Then came the second half and it looked a lot like how things looked for Iowa in November of last year; clueless, hopeless, horizontal and horrific. Iowa did amass 458 yards and ran 80 plays for the game…those are numbers you would have felt better about if Iowa won. Iowa also had a 3rd and 1 where there was a false start on a quarterback sneak, which is also on the ledger.

-OK, now that I have the most predictable post game criticism (play calling) out of the way and will probably look at things somewhat differently after watching the game again tomorrow, let’s move on to the fake punt….yeah, good times. That led to a field goal. Iowa’s three turnovers led to points for NIU. That doesn’t happen to good teams and Iowa is by no means a good team. It’s just frustrating to see another letdown in that phase of the game yet again.

-The further into this item I go, the more frustrated I get because there really were some good things out there today, just things that were very inconsistent. Rudock shows promise (21-37, 256 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs), the running game looked as good as I expected it to look (202 yards, Weisman with 100 and Bullock with 76), the OL was paving the way at times and the offense did show some imagination in the first half and the result was 300 yards. I just didn’t get the feeling watching the game that NIU out-schemed Iowa in the second half. Iowa had some execution miscues and some play calling that just seemed to be playing with fire or being too cute by a half. Whatever the case, thing were humming in the second quarter and Iowa had some rythym. Perhaps the half broke it up and Iowa could never find it again. I don’t know and if I did I’d probably be a coach.

I do know this; the second half looked way too much like what we saw last year, which was the worst offense in the Kirk Ferentz era and one of the worst in the modern era of Iowa football….or at least since 1981, which I can say from the perspective of having followed Iowa football since then.

The defense showed a pulse against a good offense and arguable the best quarterback they are going to face this season and one of three or four best offensive lines they will see this season, at worst. The pass rush showed some promise but only in the form of sending Chris Kirksey on blitzes. Jordan Lomax was abused early, but he has talent and at this stage he is too confident in his athleticism and needs to rely more on his technique.

The team will undoubtedly rebound much easier and faster than will the fans, as the season is still young and Iowa has underclassmen all over the place. Once you allow the pain of the loss to pass, you will remember some of the good things and some of the things that will help you see things look better than one year ago. But still…it’s going to be tough to get there.

I picked Iowa to finish 6-6 and that included a win against NIU in the home opener. It also included a loss at Iowa State and a loss at Purdue. I could see Iowa winning one or both of those games or losing one or both of those games, although Purdue looked atrocious in their loss against Cincinnati today.

All is not lost but I don’t blame you if you feel as though it is. This was the longest offseason for Iowa fans since 1999-2000 from a figurative standpoint and Iowa just lost the season opener on a last second field goal when the offense was showing more than just signs of life in the first half and went into the bag in the second. We’ve seen that movie before and Iowa is now in the midst of a seven game losing streak, it’s longest since the 2000 season, in Year 15 of the Kirk Ferentz era.

It’s painful.

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  • louie

    we are so poorly coached its unimaginable .a special teams coach who should of been fired 3 years in a row is still costing us.shumpert drops another and should never see the field to begin with.hard work doesn’t matter.who are the best players?On the bright side we threw a TD to r 6-8 TE that I’ve been calling for 3 years.Then we refuse to throw to him again.We set Ruduck up to fail in end with terrible offensive sets on final 2 drives.What were we doing in spread throwing when we are averaging 5-7 yards/carry?where is the TE?I hate are offense because we have really good line,but we refuse to run play action.We could of run the ball down their throat and mixed in play action for huge plays,but we are clueless.We have no feel for the game on the offensive side.I like are defensive concept for the most part.Are biggest problem there is are safeties can’t cover my mom.I thought Rudock played good and are Def has alot of promise.The biggest positive was that Meyer looked great.

    • westsidebill

      louie, this was Chris White’s first game. Darrell Wilson/Lester Erb left last spring.

      • louie

        good call westside.my bad.looked like wilson’s coaching.

      • Thomas Wenndt

        I don’t care how many games he’s had – that was (in my opinion) the key to the loss – AGAIN. Ferentz even admitted that the staff KNEW NIU would be trying a fake punt (that’s what they do). And we had our unit in that was supposed to prevent that. … You’ve heard the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” We are now up to being fooled (on special teams) for about the sixth time – what does that make us now? More to the point, when will Iowa fans get to see the HAWKS execute a fake punt or on-side kick against a key opponent in a key situation – I am SO beyond tired of seeing it done against us.

    • A C

      It pains me to even read your post. Please, please, please learn proper grammar before you represent yourself as a Hawkeye fan.

      • Zach Clary

        Not everyone is an English Major. Give him a break and quit acting like you’re a member of the Internet Grammar Gestapo.

    • Zach Clary

      What angered me the most was the second to last drive where it was 3rd and Long and they called (I believe) a wide receiver screen. The NIU defense had it sniffed out before the play was even started. Terrible call and it just showed the atypical conservatism that seems to plague Kirk Ferentz.

      What Ferentz needs to realize is that modern college football is not three yards and a cloud of dust. It’s not playing to protect single possession leads and letting the defense do all the dirty work. He needs to show some faith in his young guys for once. I really think that 3rd Down decision lead to the one major mental mistake from Rudock on the last drive of the game where he threw that terrible interception right to the NIU defender.

  • IsThisHeavenItsIowa

    The biggest disturbance in the Ferentz era the past several years has been the amount of costly mistakes his Hawkeye teams have had. Every school has to deal with youth, so for Ferentz to continue to act as if his players are just young guys and, “hey we all make mistakes” type attitude from the head coach has gotten beyond frustrating. I don’t really care to hear much from Ferentz after these losses because it will all be the same. At some point our (currently way overpaid) head coach of our public University of Iowa is going to have to stop using the “Hey, that’s football”, and start teaching ‘his’ kids (and himself) what many of us parents teach our children everyday, that making the mistake once does happen but then learn from it and don’t make it again. Many examples over the past several years – one that sticks out like a large wart on a nose – is versus the Gophers 2-3 years past when Ferentz did not have his team ready to accept the possibility of an onside kick. Gophers recovered their own onside kick with only two Hawkeye players even in the area of the ball. Gophers went on to win that game against a Hawkeyes team that was more talented at every position. Iowa had a very disappointing season that year. Three yeas past the Badgers also won a game by one point versus Hawkeyes in which they successfully ran a fake punt. Ferentz used to have all phases of the game played well but the past 2-3 years areas such as special teams have been well below acceptable. Can only hope the remainder of the season the Hawks are able to not defeat themselves. They haven’t been good enough to overcome their own mistakes the past few years.

    • westsidebill

      KF has proven to be a horrific in-game manager/strategist/tactician. That’s why it’s really disturbing that so many fans have become so willing to be mediocre – i.e. “competitive”. That’s a losing attitude and that culture will continue around the state/program until around 2020.

      • Hawk Fan(atic)!

        I love the Hawks, but you hit the nail on the head. Complacent. Losing attitude. Accepting mediocrity for a number of reasons. We have accepted the way things are and instead of looking forward to a better team, in both coaching and talent level, we look forward to next year and easier schedules. Pathetic.

  • Joyce Lee

    why throw on 3rd and one?

    • westsidebill

      I liked the call – too bad it didn’t work. Liked the call.

    • Zach Clary

      It was damned near a big play. They stacked the defenders in the box and for once Ferentz/Davis took a risk. It was a smart move, as I believe it was Powell who had a step or two over his defender(s) and was just barely overthrown.

      Had they called a running play into an eight man box everyone would’ve cried about Ferentz/Davis being too conservative. It was a good call given the circumstances, and it just didn’t work out as we all would’ve hoped.

  • Dalton_IA

    I couldn’t disagree more with some of these comments in terms of what is wrong. The x and o coaching, in my opinion, is fine. There just isn’t transcendent talent anywhere on the field to overcome mistakes. No big plays, few huge sacks, few big hits. Remember how often special teams used to decide a game in Iowa’s favor? I can’t even remember the last punt or kick return for TD, or the last blocked punt. It’s a lack of talent (recruiting), not a lack of quality coaching of the talent on the field.

    Result is still the same either way, unfortunately.

  • Scott

    Kurt could’ve got a sweet deal in the NFL five years ago after he beat Georgia Tech but now he’ll have to retire nobody

  • Scott

    Iowa Iowa St. There both played great today so next week who cares!

  • Mike Andreski

    When you accept mediocrity, you get mediocrity. In any other industry, Ferentz would be fired without a dime.

  • Victor

    Gee I wonder if you whined as much about your team last year, when Iowa beat Northern at Soldier Field, by a point in the fourth quarter on one of the final plays. You probably felt that was a great comeback win. Only one thing matters today…….NIU – 30, Iowa – 27. Oh, and it was a home loss as well. SMACK!

    • Zach Clary

      I’m assuming you’re either an NIU fan or an ISU fan?

  • Pat Furiouser

    I had faith in Ferentz until Vandenberg took every snap last season despite the worst QB play I’ve ever seen at the D1 level, and the fact Greg Davis continues to draw a paycheck from this university is only confirmation that KF is no longer the strong, astute leader that he used to be. Whatever toughness–whatever swagger or moxie this program used to have–is long gone, and Bob Sanders isn’t walking through that door. I don’t feel angry about the game–I just feel a great deal of sadness over what our once proud program has been allowed to become since the Orange Bowl win.

    • Zach Clary

      I completely disagree with the comments in regards to playing Vandenberg. Iowa lost a lot of talent last year and brought in a new offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. Vandenberg lost the best receiver Iowa had ever seen and ended up with guys who were trying to learn a new offensive system and as a result were committing a lot of mental mistakes.

      Last season was not Vandenberg’s fault to say the very least. It was a combination of injuries, unfamiliarity with the new offensive system, and the loss of great talent at important positions.

      What I will say is that Ferentz needs to stop with the protect the lead conservative mentality that’s obviously not working for this team. He’s content with 3-7pt leads and puts too much pressure on the defense to try and maintain small leads for extended periods of time. He also isn’t helping his young offensive players when they show no faith in them by calling a screen on third and long when the game is tied.

      I think this team is much improved from last season. The offense looked miles ahead of what it did last year. We’ve also got a bit more speed with guys like Tevaun Smith and Damond Powell so it can create more opportunities for big plays down the field and also open it up for guys like KMM and CJ Fiedorowic underneath.

      Our team is young and we barely got beat by a team that played in the Orange Bowl last year. It could’ve been much worse. While a W would’ve been preferred, I’m still encouraged by the improvement I saw on the field over last year’s team.

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