This year’s Cy-Hawk game took some time to digest after another weak offensive showing. The Iowa offense through two weeks has been truly offensive. Its 7 points were not enough to keep a six-game winning streak over the rival Cyclones alive. Here are five observations from the Hawkeyes 10-7 loss to Iowa State.
Petras on his last legs
Quarterback Spencer Petras is holding onto the starting position for at least one more game, but his play continues to be discouraging.
For a moment, it seemed the senior would find some rhythm. He his Sam LaPorta outside for a first down on the second drive. It was a throw he was off on the week before. Then he proceeded to overthrow Arland Bruce IV later in the drive on third down. It was the first of many overthrows when targeting Bruce.
At this point it is hard to watch the coaching staff stick with Petras knowing the plays being left on the field. The Cy-Hawk game was more than winnable. Petras was not the sole reason Iowa lost but reining in just a couple routine throws would have made a difference. His struggles are not new to this season either. He has just 3 touchdown passes to 10 interceptions over his last 9 games.
Kaleb Johnson made the most of his touches
Running back Gavin Williams was inserted back in the lineup after missing week one with an injury. He did not get worked in to start the game but was worked in for a couple carries in the second half. In his stead, freshman Kaleb Johnson split time with Leshon Williams.
Johnson had just 4 carries for 13 yards but he showed a lot of burst and vision in that time. He recognized his lanes quickly on back-to-back touches, leading to a first down at the end of the first quarter. Iowa rushed for just 58 yards on the day. With a struggling quarterback and offensive line, it is time to grind out the run game and see if something can happen.
O-line struggles against stunts and blitzes
When the offensive line is asked to engage straight up, it has been a competent unit. Not perfect but competent. When defenses start to mix things up at the line, whether it is dropping an end into coverage, bringing a blitz or running a stunt, Iowa does not know what to do.
Like in week one, the center and guards have been exploited for missing assignments or being caught against speed-rushing moves. Technique and recognition are fixable problems, certainly. It will not be a quick fix though.
Iowa is dead last in college football in total offense, tallying just 158 yards per game. New Mexico State is the second worst offense with more than 230 yards per game.
The secondary has been incredible
There is a lot of praise to be thrown around for Iowa’s secondary. In week one we talked about the closing speed of Quinn Schulte, Terry Roberts and Kaevon Merriweather. We have to spread that around even more after this game. Add Cooper DeJean to the list of defensive backs who have done more than flash a few plays.
DeJean’s first big play was a third down stop on a swing pass to Jirehl Brock. DeJean closed quickly on Brock who has been difficult to wrangle in space this season. Next, DeJean made the interception to stop a touchdown before halftime.
Roberts and Schulte had another outstanding game. For Roberts, he made a play on special teams, wrapping up the punt returner inside the 15-yard line in the first quarter to flip field position. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity came on a Roberts interception in the second half. Hunter Dekkers expected his receiver to come back to the ball but instead they cut inside. Roberts recognized the route though, and met the ball where it was supposed to go. He snagged the interception but could not stay on his feet with nothing but field in front of him. He lamented the opportunity later, knowing how difficult points have been to come by in the Cy-Hawk game.
Van Ness needs more snaps
This observation comes as no surprise. Lukas Van Ness is high on our players to watch list for good reason. If Iowa pulled off the Cy-Hawk win, he likely would have been the player of the game. More remarkable is that he made the biggest impact on special teams. Van Ness used his monstrous reach to block two punts, setting Iowa up for its only touchdown on offense this season.
Van Ness is in one of the more crowded position groups but his ability is impossible to ignore. It is time to fully unleash the Van Ness Monster.