The Monday Breakdown — Iowa vs. Rutgers

Iowa+running+back+Akrum+Wadley+runs+in+for+a+37-yard+touch+down+during+the+Iowa-Rutgers+game+at+High+Point+Solution+Stadium+at+Piscataway+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+24%2C+2016.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Knights%2C+14-7.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FMargaret+Kispert%29

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley runs in for a 37-yard touch down during the Iowa-Rutgers game at High Point Solution Stadium at Piscataway on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. The Hawkeyes defeated the Knights, 14-7. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

Jordan Hansen, [email protected]

In Iowa’s 14-7 win over Rutgers, many of the same issues that harassed them against North Dakota State popped up once again.

Namely, rushing defense and consistency on offensive drives. These are major problems and not easily fixable. However, against Rutgers the Hawkeyes did just enough to win the game and moved to 3-1 on the season. That’s not insignificant and shouldn’t be overlooked. Iowa may have not played the best, but they got the win.

Let’s take a look at a few plays, shall we?

Before we start, yes, the official missed a pretty egregious holding call on Iowa’s Desmond King (No. 14). That does not, however, negate a good play call that thoroughly confused linebacker Bo Bower (No. 41). There’s a nice pull by the Rutgers right guard, who comes down on Hawkeye defensive end Parker Hesse (No. 40). The tackle goes after Desmond King and the star cornerback can’t disengage himself. The running back (No. 7, Robert Martin) had an excellent day, toting the ball 21 times for 106 yards.

This was his longest rush of the day and put the Scarlet Knights in prime position to capitalize on the drive. Another thing to note here is how fast Rutgers got off plays and the effect the pace had on Iowa. The Scarlet Knights were getting off plays with 20-26 seconds left on the game clock and more often than not, the Hawkeyes were still shifting when the ball was snapped.

Struggling against spread teams isn’t anything particularly new for Iowa, but it continues to be disconcerting. For reference, the Scarlet Knights ran 77 plays to Iowa’s 61.

Uhhhh…

Before we get into this play, a quick history lesson. Before the forward pass was developed, football looked more like modern-day rugby than anything else. Basically every play was a massive pile of humanity smashed against one another and the biggest and strongest brutes pushed everyone else out of the way. That’s pretty much the only way the ball was moved. Running the football up the gut can take a thousand different formations and schemes, but at the end of the day, whoever gets leverage and “push” is going to move the pile.

On this play, the Scarlet Knights offensive lineman push the Iowa defensive line backwards. Now, some of this comes from the running back, who on this play is Justin Goodwin (No. 32). He keeps churning his legs and moving forward, which is exactly what you want out of a bigger running back. The Hawkeyes were still shifting a bit as the ball was snapped and didn’t look like they were in great position on the play.

This was not the case every play, but there are times each game where Iowa’s getting beat at the line of scrimmage and it’s happening much more often than Ferentz would like it too.

Why, is that a pass rush?

One thing sometimes missing from the Hawkeyes’ defense over the first couple of week is a pass rush. This was not the case against Rutgers, where Iowa totaled four sacks.

This is a great defensive play. The receivers downfield aren’t open immediately and both Hawkeye defensive ends are putting pressure on the quarterback. Chris Laviano (Rutgers No. 5) feels it, but can’t really do much. Also, Jaleel Johnson (No. 67) makes a quietly good move at the end of the play. He slams the Rutgers offensive lineman into himself, breaking free. If Laviano wouldn’t have tripped, Johnson probably gets a tackle before the quarterback can get free.

It also wasn’t the only pressure the Hawkeyes were able to put on as the RAIDER package made an appearance.

All the raider package really does is add an extra linebacker on the field and makes things a little more flexible. Iowa only rushes four players here as everyone else goes back into pass coverage. Parker Hesse (with a lot of patience) then makes a play, pushing Rutgers out of field goal position. It’s a very good play by Hesse and a critical to make early.

One last great defensive play:

Joey Jewell was directly involved in all four of Iowa’s plays on this goal line stand.

How good is he? (Really good)

To the offense

I’ll readily admit, watching this live, I did not realize this was a fake wide-receiver screen. This play takes place at the end of the first quarter and Iowa still has enough timeouts to do basically anything it wants. A little tunnel screen to Matt VandeBerg (No. 89) would have actually made quite a bit of sense. It’s not something the Hawkeyes have run much this year and would have been a perfect time to throw it out there.

Instead, it was a beautiful pass to George Kittle (No. 46) who finished the game with two receptions for 56 yards on three targets. An efficient day from him means good things for Iowa.

Here’s a lucky play

Honestly I had to throw this in here for the sheer ridiculousness of this tip drill. Iowa’s actually pretty lucky this wasn’t picked.

C.J. runs it!!!

Beathard had 10 rushes for 37 yards (and two sacks that counted against his yardage totals) and ran the ball more than he had at any other point during this season.

There were, however, mixed results to him rushing.

The good:

The not-so-good:

The first video is from late in the first half. It’s the first play of the series and Beathard is simply trying to get away from the 1-yard line. A bootleg play is called, Beathard keeps it and all the sudden he has a bit of green in front of him. He’s able to get out of bounds and the Hawkeyes get out of danger, eventually scoring a touchdown on the drive.

The second, however, is a third down play. There’s not a good reason for Beathard to put himself in that position. He’d be better off just throwing the ball away.

The takeaway

First, Iowa won the game. As I said early, that’s the important part.

Having guard Sean Welsh and center James Daniels back on the offensive line was important. Both players were sorely missed against North Dakota State last week and it’s no small deal they returned to the lineup.

Beathard did not have his best day (12-23, 162 yards) but made the throws when it mattered most. After the game, Ferentz noted how well Iowa played in the last few minutes of the game and he was right. Safety Brandon Snyder forced a critical fumble late in the game and Iowa running back Akrum Wadley scored a touchdown seconds later. There were good moments, but consistency remains on of the teams biggest issues.

This week is homecoming against Northwestern and the stakes are high. It’s the teams first divisional matchup and a game Iowa can’t afford to lose.

Will the offense click better this week? Will the defense actually be able to stop the run?

Iowa better hope so.

Follow @JordyHansen for Iowa football news, updates and analysis.

 

 

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