Numbers trump the hype

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The Daily Iowan

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley attempts to avoid a tackle by North Texas defensive back Kishawn McClain during the Iowa-North Texas game in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mean Green, 62-16. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

By Blake Dowson

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Five games into the season, it’s now fair to say the Hawkeyes are not, and probably won’t ever be, the team we had thought they’d be.

The overwhelming favorites to repeat as Big Ten West champions, the Hawkeyes now look as if they might struggle to become bowl-eligible.

There are different instances that go on during the season that derail teams. That Desmond King is no longer a captain on the team, coupled with his comments about how his team was out-coached against Northwestern, have raised eyebrows.

Numbers don’t tell the full story, but they help to understand where Iowa has gone awry in the past three weeks.

Here are three stats from the Northwestern loss that highlight what is going wrong with the Hawkeyes.

Team rushing yards: 79

It’s beginning to sound like a broken record — the Hawkeyes can’t run the ball.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke after the loss to the Wildcats about how his team needs to find its identity. He was more than likely referencing the running game, or lack thereof.

Iowa rushed 41 times for a grand total of less than one whole football field, averaging 1.9 yards per carry against a team that had given up 158 yards per game.

LeShun Daniels Jr. did almost all of the damage for the Hawkeyes on the ground, gaining 72 yards on 17 carries. But neither he nor Akrum Wadley had a run longer than 9 yards, and that cannot happen if the Hawkeyes expect to win games.

Iowa wants to grind defenses down until it can pop off a couple big runs in the second half to put games away. C.J. Beathard had Iowa’s longest run of the day (12 yards), which doesn’t bode well.

Northwestern sacks: 6

Beathard probably had rain in his eyes on numerous occasions with the amount of time he spent on his back on Oct. 1.

Watching the offensive line give up 6 sacks to a Northwestern defense that had registered 6 combined in its first four games was painful.

If it were one positional group that was at fault, it would maybe be possible to watch the tape, make a correction, and keep Beathard on his feet. But it was a multitude of things.

The receivers weren’t getting separation, the offensive line wasn’t staying in front of the defensive line, Beathard was holding onto the ball for too long and/or not feeling pressure, and the coaching staff didn’t make the necessary adjustments.

George Kittle: 1 catch, 18 yards

Pro Football Focus rates Kittle as the second-best all around tight end in the country.

Because it was the first game without No. 1 receiver Matt VandeBerg in the lineup, the wise assumption would have been that Kittle would be more involved in the passing game.

That obviously wasn’t the case, because Kittle completely disappeared against Northwestern besides his one grab.

Ferentz praised Henry Krieger-Coble time and time again last season for how much he meant to the offense, because he was so reliable each week. That hasn’t been the case with Kittle this season.

It seemed like Iowa found itself in approximately 20 third and six-or-sevens, and without VandeBerg or Kittle getting open to move the chains, the offense will continue to struggle.

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