Saturday’s rain-soaked Iowa win over Nevada was refreshing for Hawkeyes fans, if not also frustrating. Suspended play kept everybody in limbo wondering when it would be finished, if at all. By the wee hours of Sunday morning, the Hawkeyes improved to 2-1 and all is well in Iowa City. Here are five things we noticed in the 27-0 Iowa win against Nevada.
Johnson proved us right!
That happened a lot quicker than expected. After the Cy-Hawk game, we highlighted Kaleb Johnson’s burst and vision on just a few carries. Right on cue, the freshman erupted on Saturday. Johnson took 7 carries for 103 yards and two scores. Those touchdowns came on the end of 40- and 55-yard sprints down the field.
Of course we have to temper our expectations coming out of this considering the opponent, but Iowa’s run game needed to taste success almost as badly as the passing game. Johnson, and Gavin Williams for that matter, should be the bread and butter of this offense right now.
Petras can push the ball
When he has the time and the play call that is. Spencer Petras took several deep shots Saturday and they were relatively accurate. No, he did not connect on every bomb, but he put it where only his receiver could catch it. To no fault of Petras or his receivers, there were a couple long touchdown passes left out there. Considering the conditions, the quarterback had a good showing.
We have been critical of the offensive playcalling. Give credit where credit is due: the offense was more varied and modern against Nevada. The best things Iowa did from a scheme standpoint were using pre-snap motion and sweeping receivers in the backfield. Nevada’s defensive backs played a good game when going straight up man-on-man. Iowa’s movement behind the line of scrimmage really made a difference.
The most evident sign of how that motion can be huge came on Arland Bruce’s touchdown catch in the first quarter. At the snap, Bruce ran a sweep behind the offensive line, then wheeled out and up the field. That motion created just enough confusion that nobody picked Bruce up in coverage, leading to the simple pitch and catch from Petras.
If your receivers are not winning straight up, put them in motion or run some natural rub routes.
Iowa is rich at defensive back
Praising Iowa’s defensive backs could be a regular segment here. Again, the cornerbacks and safeties were show stealers on defense. From Cooper DeJean’s sideline interception to pass defenses by Riley Moss, this is a tough group to move the ball on.
Iowa’s second-best special teamer
Tory Taylor is without a doubt one of the most valuable special team players in the country. His fingerprints —and footprints —are all over Iowa’s two wins.
But there is another player who has been huge in the punt game as well: Terry Roberts. On several occasions this season, Roberts has been the first man down the field, downing a Taylor punt inside the 10 yard line. The Taylor to Roberts connection might be the most effective weapon the Hawkeyes have had so far.