Purdue set to throw challenge at Iowa’s secondary

The Hawkeye defense looks to shine against Purdue’s air-raid offense.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defensive back Michael Ojemudia runs back an interception during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

Fifteen points, 308.5 yards of total offense on average, and two games later, Iowa went from undefeated on the season to 4-2 as it reaches a critical stretch of Big Ten games. 

The Hawkeyes celebrate homecoming on Saturday against Purdue, a team Iowa can’t afford to look past despite its 2-4 record on the season. The last time Purdue came to Kinnick Stadium in 2017, it beat Iowa, 24-15. Last year in West Lafayette, Indiana, the Boilermakers were victorious, 38-36. 

One week ago, Purdue put up 30 first-half points on its way to a 40-14 win over Maryland, with 420 of its 547 yards coming from the hand of Jack Plummer, a redshirt freshman quarterback who won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday following the performance. 

“With Purdue, you never know what they’re going to do,” cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “They might throw it to the boundary, they might throw it to the field, but they’re just trying to get easy points.”

Plummer completed 33 of 41 passes, good for a new Purdue completion percentage record of 80.5 percent. 

With wide receiver Rondale Moore questionable for this game with an injury, freshman David Bell poses a threat at receiver that will keep Iowa’s secondary on its toes. Bell had nine catches for 138 yards against Maryland, setting career-highs in both with another career-high two touchdowns. 

With the high rate of passes that Purdue shows and has put on display throughout the years, Iowa’s secondary will have its moments to prove that it can keep up with its own performance from the past two weeks. 

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“We haven’t been getting a lot of as many turnovers as we wanted, so this is definitely going to be a statement game for us to get turnovers,” Ojemudia said. 

While the defense looks to increase turnovers, Iowa’s offense is looking to improve on its drop in production the last two weeks by limiting those turnovers. 

Through the first four weeks, the Hawkeye offense turned the ball over only once. Against Michigan and Penn State combined, Nate Stanley threw four interceptions, and there was one fumble for a turnover. 

“We’ve turned the ball over more times in the last two games than I can remember in over a two-game span,” Stanley said. “It’s huge. We gave [Michigan] a couple short field with turnovers last weekend, and we know that to be successful.”

Stanley has also taken a lot of big hits in the past two weeks, putting the offensive line at the forefront of the offensive troubles. 

The running game has tallied only 71 yards total in the past two games, a testament to the sacks and pressure that defenses have put on Stanley and that Iowa will need to improve on against Purdue. 

“We’ve been in this situation before,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The only thing I’d throw out there, we’ve played two pretty decent defensive football teams. History or time will bear that out. What I saw with my own eyes, I believe it. We have prepared for our opponents. We’ll respect the process and try to get better here.”

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