Defense succeeds, offense struggles, Iowa moves forward

The Hawkeyes beat themselves in Ann Arbor on Saturday, but the focus now is on Penn State.

Iowa+offensive+lineman+Alaric+Jackson+prepares+to+block+during+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Michigan+in+Ann+Arbor+on+Saturday%2C+October+5%2C+2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa offensive lineman Alaric Jackson prepares to block during a football game between Iowa and Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

If Iowa had even a quarter of the yards it posted against Middle Tennessee a week ago, its game against Michigan on Oct 5 would have looked a lot different.

The box score negates the need for any type of replay watching. The offense couldn’t get moving, the defense held the Wolverines when it needed to, and Michigan walked off the field at the end of the fourth quarter with a Big Ten win over the Hawkeyes.

After the defense held Michigan to 3 points following a turnover at Iowa’s 18-yard line, it was clear who would be caught in battle. On Michigan’s next drive, it scored the only rushing touchdown allowed by Iowa all season.

A combined three fumbles and two interceptions later, the first quarter was over, and Iowa brought the game a back within one score with a field goal on its first drive of the second.

As the defensive battle got stronger, Iowa’s offense continued to struggle for one of the worst games of quarterback Nate Stanley’s career.

“Both teams played hard on both sides of the ball, but the defenses really kind of controlled the game, certainly,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We didn’t help ourselves with some costly errors, especially in the first half, that made the hole a little bit harder to climb.”

Stanley threw 3 interceptions for the first time in his career and the first for an Iowa quarterback since its Outback Bowl loss to Florida his freshman year.

The question now for Iowa is how to bounce back against a Penn State team that put up 21 first-quarter points in a 35-7 win against Purdue.

“Obviously, there are a lot of learning opportunities,” Stanley said. “Just make sure everybody’s brutally honest with what is on the tape and then make sure we don’t lose any focus on our ultimate goals.”

Improvements will ultimately come for the offensive line in the next week following Alaric Jackson’s start at left tackle after being sidelined since the season-opener against Miami (Ohio). He dressed against Middle Tennessee but didn’t see any action until this week.

The holes in the offensive line led to Stanley being sacked eight times for a loss of 65 yards, leading to the team’s total of 1 rushing yard in the game. Three of those sacks came in the fourth quarter.

“That’s on me. I played a guy who hadn’t played in four games, and he’s going to be a little bit rusty, he’s not going to be quite as sharp as he would have,” Ferentz said. “You think about Tristan [Wirfs], who’s been practicing since August uninterrupted, it makes a big difference.”

Stanley and Company went 1-for-8 on third-down conversions in the second half, which led to the loss. Iowa’s only red-zone chance to score came in the second quarter when it put points on the board but didn’t get that far downfield again.

The passing game was there for the Hawkeyes when the rushing game wasn’t, but unfortunately for Iowa, it couldn’t make up for Michigan’s defense and the turnovers. Interceptions aside, Stanley completed 23 passes on 42 attempts for 260 yards.

Iowa’s game had high points in freshman Tyler Goodson, who recorded a career-high 6 receptions for 62 yards. The kick-return game looked stronger, as well, as Ihmir Smith-Marsette brought one 37 yards back to the 50-yard line. Geno Stone also hauled in his first interception of the season.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they’ll get a little bit of that Kinnick magic back next weekend as they kick off against the Nittany Lions at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 12.

 

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