Iowa football struggles on offense, falls to Wisconsin, 27-7

The Hawkeyes only mustered up 156 total yards on offense Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa wide receiver Charlie Jones walks off the sideline with his helmet during a football game between No. 9 Iowa and Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 27-7. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

MADISON, Wisc. —  In a cramped media room at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday, five Iowa football players and their head coach, Kirk Ferentz, solemnly addressed reporters.

Ferentz and others almost had to duck as they spoke, standing on a raised stage in front of a podium, their heads just inches away from a ceiling that was likely not much more than eight feet high.

Fresh off a 27-7 loss to Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes looked uncomfortable in the small space as they fielded questions from about a dozen media members for no more than 10 minutes each — most of which pertained to Iowa’s lack of offensive production.

The Hawkeyes only gained 156 yards Saturday. Iowa ran 55 plays, averaging 2.84 yards per offensive snap.

“I’m sure our fans are frustrated right now,” Ferentz said postgame. “They want the best for our football team. We appreciate that. We certainly have work to do, and work to continue to do. The biggest thing right now that we’re trying to share with our team is that the season isn’t over. We’ll lick our wounds and go back to work.”

“We struggled offensively today,” Ferentz added. “It was pretty obvious . . . When we turn the ball over and we can’t protect the way we need to, it’s gonna be tough to expect to win . . . Losing is always tough. It’s all about staying together and trying to find solutions. I’m sure we’ll get plenty of suggestions on what the issues are.”

Iowa picked up just 24 yards on the ground Saturday on 30 rush attempts. Junior running back Tyler Goodson led the team in rushing, netting 27 yards.

The Hawkeyes possessed the ball for just 24 minutes — less than half the game. Iowa only moved the chains twice on 13 separate third down plays — a 15 percent third-down conversion rate. In total, Iowa picked up nine first downs on the afternoon — only one of which came in the first half.

“When things don’t go our way, it’s obviously tough,” transfer wide receiver Charlie Jones said. “You know people are upset, but the only thing we can do is look forward to watching tape tomorrow and getting back to it next week.”

RELATED: Twitter reactions to Iowa’s 27-7 loss to Wisconsin

In the pass game, the Hawkeyes picked up 132 yards. Starting quarterback Spencer Petras completed nine of his 19 pass attempts for 93 yards.

Backup QB Alex Padilla — who entered the game when Petras was banged up in the fourth quarter — connected on three of his six throws for 39 yards.

Ferentz said that Petras wasn’t benched in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. Petras’ rear end hit the pine in the fourth period for injury reasons.

Poor offensive line play heavily contributed to Iowa’s problems in the air. On the day, the Hawkeyes surrendered six sacks — five of which were absorbed by Petras.

“That was a problem today,” Ferentz said. “We couldn’t hold up against them. Part of that was one-on-one matchups. Part of it was a guy coming free on a blitz, that type of deal. Just like turnovers are huge, if you get sacked six times, you’re not gonna win.”

Despite the offense’s struggles, Ferentz said he’s still confident in his offensive coordinator’s ability to call plays and help his Hawkeyes move the ball.

“It’s my 23rd year, and I’ve had confidence in our coaches for 23 years,” Ferentz said of his son and play-caller Brian. “We’ll do what we do every time you hit a bump. You pull together. You work hard. We got a good room of people, and a good staff of people. We’ll figure out what we can do to get better. It’ll be a collective effort all week. It is every week. I’ve got total confidence in our staff. We have an outstanding staff.”

Iowa will head to Evanston, Illinois, next Saturday for a matchup with Northwestern at Ryan Field. A start time and television network have not been announced for the Hawkeyes’ next game.

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