That’s right, folks. Iowa football, for the first time in what seems like the entire season, is a winner.
It’s hard to remember a more contentious season to date for Iowa football. Currently a middle of the road team, it has been a mighty struggle for Iowa (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) this year. The defense has been very good, despite what 54 points surrendered to the Ohio State Buckeyes suggests. Phil Parker’s unit has kept them in games, and really made every game relatively winnable.
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The problem has been the lack of offense to capitalize on that stingy defense as well as a fantastic special teams unit led by punter Tory Taylor. Sure, this has been a problem over past seasons and the Hawkeyes’ offense was one of the chief concerns heading into the season. Nobody expected it to be this bad, though. What we thought was the floor has dropped significantly, the Hawkeyes’ offense among the worst in the nation in pretty much whichever metric and statistical category that you wish to use.
It has been a long and tense year for Hawkeye fans, but is their luck finally starting to turn a corner?
Iowa came out of their Week 9 matchup against Northwestern looking like real winners, included positively on Paul Myerberg of USA Today’s Week 9 college football winners and losers:
The Hawkeyes scored a touchdown. Actually, they scored once in the first quarter, again in the second, once in the third and added another in the fourth as the nation’s sleepiest and least productive offense stirred to life to beat Northwestern 33-13. Iowa finished with a season-high 393 yards — the best single-game performance since gaining 428 yards against Maryland last October — while quarterback Spencer Petras went over 200 yards passing for the second time this season. – Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports.
Most of that seems like it would be in jest for any other team. Perhaps it should be taken that it was for the Hawkeyes as well, but it really shows just how much better they looked on Saturday.
The offensive woes have been well documented. Lack of creativity, lack of healthy players, and lack of execution have been the backbone of Brian Ferentz’s offensive unit so far this season. However, we saw a massive step up from this season’s norm against Northwestern. Sure, the Wildcats are not the best opponent to get a gauge on how effective you are, but compared to games against other “bad” teams, Iowa looked a heck of a lot more competent.
The offensive line played the best it had all season, providing a pretty clean pocket for Spencer Petras. While the senior quarterback didn’t really take over the game, he looked a lot more comfortable against Northwestern than he has all season. It was his best performance of the season by a country mile.
The offense looked more creative overall, many noting the implementation of the jet sweep as a key focal point of the offense’s success. I will be writing more at length about this, because the use of jet motions has been something I’ve been demanding even before the season.
No matter how you look at it, Iowa football is trending up heading into their clash against Big Ten West division rivals Purdue. Coming off a win where we finally saw some of the changes we’ve been promised all season implemented, Iowa has a massive opportunity coming up this Saturday.
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