Well……what did we learn? Let’s take a look back at the Hawkeyes 24-3 victory over Wyoming to see
what we can take away moving forward and also look ahead to the CyHawk matchup with the Cyclones
in Ames on Saturday.
To me, this game was very reminiscent of the 2003 Iowa game against Miami (Ohio) led by a young Ben
Roethlisberger. The offense didn’t look all-world by any means, but they were serviceable. However,
the defense was stifling from start to finish. The captain of the defense was by far the standout on
Saturday. Plain and simple, Josey Jewell is an absolute monster at linebacker. He was all over the field
and earned himself B1G Defensive Player of the Week honors after racking up 14 tackles and 2 sacks
against the Cowboys.
Future NFL 1st round draft pick Josh Allen certainly did not look the part on Saturday in Iowa City. The Hawkeye defense swarmed early and swarmed often. Defensive coordinator Phil Parker rotated in a number of defensive lineman to keep fresh legs out there to keep up with the Wyoming up tempo attack. True freshman AJ Epenesa more than held his own in his first career game with 1 tackle for loss and a sack. The secondary was solid against Allen, holding him to a very pedestrian statline of 23/40 for 174 yards and 2 interceptions. Josh Jackson was the standout of the secondary, as he was targeted numerous times and made it very hard on the Wyoming receivers to get behind the defense. His interception late in the game was a thing of beauty.
Wyoming had been running out routes all day and Jackson’s length and athleticism showed for him to plant, break on the ball, and make the interception. Not only did the defense keep Wyoming out of the endzone, they didn’t even allow them in the redzone. Looking to this weekend against Iowa State, the defense must continue to do what they do best. Sound, smart, physical football. Keeping a good rotation upfront on the d-line will be a priority, as ISU likes to play fast. Fresh legs will lead to better pressure on ISU’s Jacob Park, who can sling the ball around to multiple talented receivers. This will be the key matchup of the game, can Iowa’s defense contain Allen Lazard and the stable of skill position players the Cyclones have to offer? We shall see.
The Nate Stanley era got off to a shaky start, going 0-4 with an interception on his first 4 passes. However, after that we saw what the coaches have been talking about since he arrived in Iowa City last year. A calm demeanor and a short memory. All three of his touchdown passes were perfectly thrown balls, one of which was on a crucial 4th and goal situation early in the 2nd quarter.
Two of the TD passes went to sophomore Noah Fant, who could become Iowa’s next great tight end. At 6-foot- 5 and 232 lbs, Fant is a matchup nightmare. Too big for defensive backs, and too fast for linebackers, Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz would be smart to keep featuring Fant in the passing game. Junior College transfer Nick Easley had a solid showing in his first game as a Hawkeye wide receiver, corralling 4 passes for 77 yards including a 45-yard catch and run for a touchdown. While the passing game is still a work in progress, you saw glimpses of what could come to pass moving forward.
As for the Iowa rushing attack, Akrum Wadley might have had the quietest 116 yards he’s ever accumulated. While he had a couple of his patented highlight runs, leaving defenders jock straps in the dust, he did a lot of his damage between the tackles. Graduate transfer James Butler also had a nice first game in a Hawkeye uniform with 47 yards on 10 carries. When the Hawks step on the field at Jack Trice this coming weekend, they will more than likely see the same type of defensive gameplan as Wyoming employed. However, the Clones will probably blitz….and blitz….and then blitz some more. With Nate Stanley making his first road start in a hostile environment, the offensive line will have its work cut out for them in protecting their young QB. The good news on that front is Iowa should have their Rimington Award candidate James Daniels back at the center position.
After seeing both teams play this weekend, it’s now even harder for me to predict what will happen this weekend in the CyHawk match-up. Vegas sees it in a similar way, as they basically have this as a pick ‘em game. Even if I were the biggest degenerate gambler, I would not be able to bring myself to bet money on this game. I would not be surprised to see Iowa come out and control the tempo with the run game and go on to a double-digit victory. In that same vein, I would not be shocked to see Iowa State’s passing game be too much for Iowa’s young cornerbacks, leading to a double-digit Iowa State victory. Regardless of who wins, this week is fun for the whole state and I believe it’s not something that should go away. What other sport gives you a whole week to irrationally argue with Jerry in accounting about the outcome of a game? (Although we can all agree, Jerry is kind of an idiot)
Who wins this week? The state of Iowa, so have fun with it and don’t be a dick.