FIVE SENTENCES ON MISSOURI STATE RESULT
1) The Hawkeyes were sloppy, with 11 penalties for 100 yards, and senior players made too many of those mistakes.
2) Even if WR Damond Powell knows, say, 30 percent of the offense, he can run and there is value in that.
3) If a physical running game is going to be the default for the offense, the dance at right guard needs to solidify.
4) Is the offense getting enough out of the “lightning” counter RB to Mark Weisman’s “thunder”?
5) The Hawkeyes received votes in this week’s “Misery Index,” written by USA Today college football writer Dan Wolken. (Don’t worry, you’re no Texas.)
1) Iowa RB Mark Weisman – Grumble, grumble, grumble. Jake Rudock didn’t juggle sharks and throw a ball of fire to Damond Powell while he broke the speed of sound. OK, overstating, overstating. And this is the last time I’m doing this, everything gets the caveat that Missouri State is a middle-of-the-road FCS team. I know this, you know this. Let’s just throw that gauze over everything. OK, that said, the best numbers of the day go to Weisman. If you were there, you felt the heat. Thirty carries on a day like that? That’s a great effort. Applaud it. The fact that it took 30 carries to put away and FCS . . . and dang it, I’m not even listening to myself.
2) LB Anthony Hitchens — OK, he had a late-hit penalty. (Man, those flags are flying faster than they ever have, IMO. That is the new environment. You’ve got to be smart.) He was credited with a sack, Iowa’s first this season. He had another tackle for loss, led Iowa with eight tackles and broke up a pass. Ferentz was very enthusiastic in his praise of Hitchens last week. He punched in and played a game. He wasn’t stressed in coverage. Ferentz said Iowa did play nickel against NIU. I don’t remember it and they didn’t play any last week.
3) WR Julian Burton — Burton caught six passes for 67 yards and a 27-yard TD. He put a double-move on freshman cornerback and gave the Bears their only offensive points. MSU has nice WRs in Burton and Dorian Buford. They seem like the kind of guys you might see push for a roster spot on a future “Hard Knocks.”
1) Kick coverage — This isn’t a huge deal. Or, more accurately, it wasn’t a huge deal last week. Iowa’s kick cover team did leak some leverage on the two kicks that Mike Meyer (three touchbacks out of five kicks) didn’t bury in the end zone. Both Bears’ returns were 28 and 33 yards. Again, not huge. Against level competition, it might mean more than 28 and 33. It was a solid day for special teams, otherwise. Forget punter Connor Kornbrath’s 37.2 average. He downed four of his five punts inside MSU’s 20 and had zero touchbacks. That’s a good day.
2) Drops — I counted four. Senior WR Jordan Cotton had one that was heavily contested, but it hit his hands. Senior WR Don Shumpert had a pair and now has four this season. In the first two games, the pattern has been for WRs to play two series and then switch out for two series, with a few floaters working in. I get questions on Damond Powell. I understand that. He has speed and Iowa needs speed. He had a drop on a WR screen. One thing you need to understand, Ferentz isn’t going to change his process for any one play. Never. You win your time with your performance in practice. Players also are quizzed on what they know. Every week. Coaches know what players know or don’t know. It’ll come. You have to think.
3) Discipline — The Hawkeyes 11 penalties for 100 yards were the most since 2007, when they had 10 for 117 against Northern Illinois. Three false starts, two holds, a delay of game, offsides, two late hits (WR Jacob Hillyer on a kick cover) and an illegal block on kick coverage. That was enough to keep Iowa from putting away MSU.
1) 47-yarder to Kittle — Excellent call, even better execution. On first-and-10 from Iowa’s 20, redshirt freshman TE George Kittle started on the opposite side of the LOS and motioned right. WRs Cotton and Powell lined up right and took off down the seam. Cotton went about 12 yards and ran a square in, occupying the middle of the two-deep zone. Powell kept running. There is a book on Powell and it says “fast.” He took two defenders with him, effectively blowing the top off the defense. Kittle shed the outside linebacker and separated on a wheel route. Rudock could’ve gone to Cotton. It looked as though he took a look and progressed to Kittle. Easy throw. The drive ended in a 3-yard TD by Weisman.
2) Same drive, third-and-6 — At first, I thought this was a quick snap. Maybe it was a little hurried, but TE Ray Hamilton shifted late and wasn’t set, so it was a false start moving a third-and-1 back to third-and-6 at MSU’s 19. You’ve seen this one before. Last week, it was a quick snap and Iowa did get a false start and the drive died. This week, the offense grew up a little bit. TE C.J. Fiedorowicz ran a terrific smash route. He got inside position toward the sideline on OLB Jeremy Springer and then pivoted back to the middle and was wide open. Easy pitch and catch for 12 yards and a first-and-goal at MSU’s 7. Springer didn’t contest the route like Iowa State linebackers will this week, but it was a step toward improvement for the Iowa passing game.
NEXT — IOWA STATE (0-1)
– Iowa State fell to UNI, an FCS perennial power, 28-20 at Jack Trice two weeks ago. The Cyclones had last week off.
– Northern Iowa rushed 33 times for 228 yards and two TDs against the Cyclones. That’s 6.91 yards a carry. Linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott were incredible for ISU during their careers and last season, helped the Cyclones hold Iowa to 2.43 yards a carry.
– UNI QB Sawyer Kollmorgen completed 22 of 29 against the Cyclones (75.9 percent) for 229 yards and two TDs.
– ISU QB Sam Richardson averaged 5.96 yards on 53 plays against the Panthers. Iowa has allowed 4.67 yards a play in its first two games.
– Kickoff is 5 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. Iowa is 2-5 under Ferentz at Jack Trice.
Closing the deal (Red zone TDs/possessions)
Iowa — 4 of 6 (NIU: 2-for-3)
Missouri State — 0-for-1 (NIU: 0-for-2)
This is what you’d expect against an FCS team. Iowa rushed for 296 yards. There wasn’t a lot or any wiggle, just power, especially when the space closed.
Setting the tone (defensive three-and-outs)
Iowa 6 — The big play was Tanner Miller’s interception. That wasn’t a three-and-out, but it stopped the momentum MSU built after back-to-back scores 30 seconds apart. (NIU: 6)
Missouri State 3 — We’re going to count Rique Bentley’s pick 6 on a first down. (NIU: 3)
After adjustments (second-half yards and avg. yards per play)
Iowa — 285-6.47 (44 plays) (NIU: 156-47, 33 plays)
Missouri State — 130-5.2 (25 plays) (NIU: 234-4.77, 49 plays)
Iowa got off to a fast start with 302 yards on 47 plays in the first half. Last season, the Hawkeyes averaged 310.4 yards a game. Mistakes doomed the offense in the second half, while Lynch played err0r-free football.
Game-changers (offensive plays of 20-plus yards)
Iowa 4 — Iowa’s big plays were more organic this week. Really, they were as simple as it gets: Hand the ball to Weisman and let the OL block. Weisman had runs of 21, 37 and 26. Also, the pass to Kittle was a play and not a flea flicker. (vs NIU: 3)
Missouri State 2 — Two big pass plays against the Hawkeyes. That’s six against in two games, including four TD passes of 20-plus. (NIU: 5)
Two-minute magic (points, final two minutes of half)
Iowa 0 — The Hawkeyes were close, scoring a TD with 2:12 left before halftime. Weisman’s 3-yard run capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Half credit? (vs NIU: 7)
Missouri State 0 — Iowa had two stops in the last two minutes of the first half. (NIU: 3)
Iowa big plays (going by OC Greg Davis’ definition of 12-plus yard run and 16-plus pass)
6 — Weisman accounted for three of these. On Iowa’s first scoring drive, Weisman had a 21-yarder and Rudock completed an 18-yard pass to TE Jake Duzey. Rudock’s feet produced one with a 14-yard scramble. RB Damon Bullock had a 14-yard rush that set up Rudock’s second TD run. Is Iowa getting enough out of the second RB position? What does Iowa want that position to be, a change-of-pace (Bullock or Jordan Canzeri) or a Weisman light (true freshman LeShun Daniels)? (vs NIU: 5)