IOWA CITY — In three games, Iowa’s defense has allowed 10 passing plays of 20 yards or more.
There are plenty of reasons for the those big plays. There’s cornerback B.J. Lowery’s tight calf and cramps against Northern Illinois. There’s linebacker Anthony Hitchens getting caught on a wheel route, also against Northern Illinois. True freshman Desmond King was beaten for a touchdown pass by veteran Missouri State wide receiver Julian Burton. And there were plenty of miscues in four big plays against Iowa State.
Iowa ranks 81st nationally in giving up passes of 20-plus yards. But there’s not a common element as to why Iowa’s three opponents have rattled off multiple big plays in every game. That’s a good thing, senior safety Tanner Miller said Tuesday.
“It’s nothing that’s a communication-type breakdown where we’re not giving ourselves a chance,” Miller said. “We’re there, we’re in the position to make the play; it’s just a matter of executing and making those plays. It just comes down to being more focused on the technique aspect, going the full 60 minutes and just being in tune each and every play, play in and play out, making sure that those things don’t happen.”
Against Iowa State, there were different scenarios. In single-coverage, ISU wide receiver Quenton Bundrage beat King on a 24-yard post. Bundrage later spun away from Lowery’s tackle attempt for a 67-yard score. There was a blitz that left the secondary exposed.
“Each one is an individual story, if you will,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Sometimes it’s a team thing, sometimes an individual breakdown, what you have. But those are the things we’ll have to get better at. We did a lot of good things, too.”
Everything is correctable, Lowery said.
“Yes, especially on the plays I made,” Lowery said. “The plays we looked over, it was more on my technique so we’re not too worried about it. I’m sure Coach (Phil) Parker will still call blitzes.”
HIGHS AND LOWS
Lowery earned the No. 4 highlight on ESPN on Saturday after soaring for a one-handed fourth-quarter interception against Iowa State.
Lowery, a senior, didn’t see the play appear on ESPN. Instead his phone blew up with texts from friends and a photo of the interception, which was taken by The Gazette’s Brian Ray.
“I actually went to go post it on Instagram until somebody actually told me to, so I finally did,” Lowery said. “It’s doing good.”
The play impressed Miller.
“It was unbelievable,” Miller said. “It happened just a couple of yards in front of me. At first I wondered why he was going up with one hand that way. Then once I saw him bring it in. It was just one of those things that it was an incredible catch. It was sweet to witness.”
Ferentz said cornerbacks Jordan Lomax and Maurice Fleming have a shot to play this weekend against Western Michigan. Lomax suffered a hamstring injury in the opener and has missed the last two games. Fleming suffered an undisclosed injury in training camp and has yet to play.