Statistically speaking, it was a decent day for Iowa. The offense rolled up 489 yards, including 296 on the ground. It ran 86 plays and turned the ball over once.
The defense held Missouri State to 70 yards on the ground and allowed just 197 for the game. But the 28-14 win had a listless, uninspired feel to it. Four dropped passes in the first half, a drive stalled at the 2-yard line, a missed field goal and two possessions inside the 40-yard line gave the impression Iowa wasn’t at its best. Eleven penalties for 100 yards pretty much clinched that feeling.
“There were a lot of good things out there, too, but mistakes we made helped hide that,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
But it was a win, something Iowa hadn’t done in nearly 11 months.
“It feels good to get the win again after 300 and 20-some days,” center Austin Blythe said. “But there’s a lot of mistakes we need to clean up, a lot of things we need to get better at.”
“I try not to think of in terms of streaks or losses,” Iowa linebacker James Morris said. “If we win, I’m happy. If we lose I’m not happy. It’s sort of a week-by-week basis for me.”
B – Kinnick cleared out amazingly fast. It was like “In Heaven there is no be . . .”
– Marc Morehouse
B – The last time the Hawkeyes won, the Royal Baby hadn’t even been conceived.
– Mike Hlas
C — It’s kind of like giving up pop for Lent. Forty days later, your first pop has no carbonation.
– Scott Dochterman
BY THE NUMBERS
7 — Consecutive games lost by Iowa before Saturday
58 — Rushes by Iowa, the third-highest total under Coach Kirk Ferentz
3 — True freshman that have played for Iowa this year
4 — Dropped passes by Iowa receivers in the first half
11 — Iowa penalties, the most since 2005 against Michigan
Iowa junior running back Mark Weisman rushed 30 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns in another workmanlike performance. Weisman became the 42nd player in Iowa history to run for 1,000 yards in a career. He achieved the milestone on a 10-yard touchdown run in third quarter.
“I’m not real big on individual things, none of us really are here,” Weisman said. “We’re just all about the team moving forward, getting some wins.”
Weisman has earned the respect of his offensive linemen, perhaps the greatest honor a running back can achieve.
“He’s a guy that’s always going to fall forward,” Blythe said. “Mark’s a tough guy. He’s going to fight for yards and as an offensive lineman we’ve got to give him the holes and have him run up there and get yards.
Sophomore tight end George Kittle provided one of the game’s highlight reel plays midway through the third quarter. Kittle was wide open on a wheel route on the right side and hauled in a 47-yard pass from Jake Rudock to put the ball on the Missouri State 33-yard line. Rudock had solid protection on the play.
“We knew that we had been running a lot of plays and attacking that will linebacker,” Kittle said. “We knew that if we ran a wheel route and act like we were going to block him and go around him that we’d have him beat. aas I soon as I ran outside, he came in and I had him beat on the numbers. Then Jake found me and threw a great pass.”
“I was looking over my shoulder for what it seemed 10 seconds. It was probably like two, but it was a great play.”
Iowa cornerback Desmond King made his first start, the first time since 2010 the Hawkeyes have started a true freshman. Making their debuts were running back LeShun Daniels and wide receiver Matt VandeBerg, who seemingly came out of nowhere to catch two passes for 17 yards on consecutive downs.
“He’s a talented guy,” Iowa wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “A lot of people didn’t see him or know about him. The coaches decided to play him this week. He got in and had a few catches for us. He’s a talented guy and you’re going to see a lot more of him.”
Daniels rushed six times for 30 yards. King had three tackles and recovered one fumble but was beaten for a 27-yard touchdown pass.
Iowa fullback Adam Cox twice made a pair of devastating blocks on consecutive running plays that had Weisman smiling from ear to ear. The blocks helped finish off Iowa’s final scoring drive, which was finished by a Rudock 1-yard run.
“A couple of our best plays today were with the fullback in there lead blocking,” Weisman said. “That’s awesome to see. I love that. I love having the fullback in, being a previous fullback.
“I can’t wait to see that on film.”
Iowa (1-1) faces instate rival Iowa State (0-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones have won the last two hard-fought battles, each by three points.
“We approach every game the same way,” Morris said. “Obviously we go in there wanting to win, preparing and expecting to win. But if there was a game where you say, ‘Hey, maybe this one is … we really want to win this one,’ then Iowa State is definitely one of those. They’re our rivals. There’s no denying that. It’s been a very competitive series the last four years. I’m sure it will be a competitive game, and I just hope that we play well.”