Kirk Ferentz sees growth in Iowa football’s offense following Michigan loss

The Hawkeyes scored all of their points in the fourth quarter in a 27-14 loss to the Wolverines.

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Jerod Ringwald

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz moves to discuss with officials during a football game between Iowa and No. 4 Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes, 27-14.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor


Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz saw improvement from his offense on Saturday, despite the Hawkeyes’ 27-14 loss to No. 4 Michigan.

“As crazy as it may sound, from where I stood, I thought our guys played hard and I saw some growth in our football team,” Ferentz said postgame. “Time will tell.”

Iowa finished the game with 281 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras had his best passing game of the year,  going 21-of-31 for 246 yards and one touchdown. He also posted a 145 passer rating.

Most of the Hawkeyes’ growth came in the fourth quarter, when Iowa scored all 14 of its points. Iowa put together a 7-play, 44-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 2-yard rush from true freshman Kaleb Johnson in the opening play of the fourth quarter.

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras throws a pass during a football game between Iowa and No. 4 Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Grace Smith)

The Hawkeyes also scored on their final drive of the game. Sophomore tight end Luke Lachey found the end zone on a 5-yard pass from Petras, capping off a 75-yard drive.

“I think we’re coming together,” Lachey said postgame. “We have better chemistry there, and I think we’re just following the plan of what the scheme has set for us. So, we just have to go and execute. We have to do that in the first half as well.”

Between the two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Iowa turned the ball over on downs two consecutive times.

With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Iowa was five yards away from its end zone. But the Hawkeyes failed to convert a 4th-and-2 play when Petras threw a 1-yard pass to tight end Sam LaPorta, who was immediately tackled short of the sticks.

“It was cover zero,” Petras said postgame. “We ran a sprint play that we liked. I think that certainly was a throw there. I think I kind of pulled up just feeling the contain guy, which, especially in that situation, the thing I can’t do is do that. I have to wear that one, and I didn’t. I pulled up, location was low. I didn’t give Sam a chance. It sucks, but I gotta do better.”

Iowa’s second turnover on downs came when Petras was sacked twice in three plays. Coming up on 4th-and-28 deep in Iowa territory, Petras was nearly sacked again. He got the ball out of his hands for an incomplete pass. 

Despite Iowa’s miscues in the final quarter of the game, senior wide receiver Nico Ragaini is optimistic about Iowa’s offense. 

“I thought that was the best we’ve looked this season,” Ragaini said of the Hawkeyes’ fourth-quarter performance. “So, as the season goes on, good teams continue to get better. We’re 3-2 right now, but the season’s not over and our goals are still there. So, we just gotta push forward and continue to grow every single day.”

Iowa’s offensive performance in the first 45 minutes of the game, however, was uninspiring. The Hawkeyes scounged up just 110 total offensive yards and no touchdowns in the first three quarters.

But Ferentz thinks two nearly back-to-back penalties on Iowa’s offensive linemen in the second quarter hampered the Hawkeyes’ momentum.

Johnson had two rushes, each over 20 yards, in the second quarter, but both of them were called back because of a holding penalty on redshirt freshman Gennings Dunker and a clipping violation on sophomore Connor Colby.

“It looked like a pretty clean play and we gained 20, 25 yards,” Ferentz said. “So, you go from moving the ball down the field 20 yards … it changes the complexion of everything you do.”

Hawkeye center Logan Jones was also called for unnecessary roughness on what Ferentz thinks was a routine block — voiding a play that brought Iowa to Michigan’s 2-yard line.

“That happened to be where the defender was, and he’s finishing the play, and that’s something we really emphasize and teach,” Ferentz said. “I’m a little perplexed by that one, and I don’t know when you’re supposed to know when to stop if your opponent is still going. It’s a little confusing.”

Iowa was called for six major penalties throughout the course of the game, including an offensive pass interference on Arland Bruce, defensive pass interference on Sebastian Castro, and a personal foul on Ragaini.

“To have six major penalties, that’s kind of uncharacteristic,” Ferentz said. “Maybe we were overwhelmed talent-wise or maybe our guys are that sloppy. It didn’t feel that way from the sideline. It is what it is. But it impacted the game, and we weren’t good enough to overcome that.”

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