EVANSTON, Ill. — The Iowa defense was supposed to be the concern. The Hawkeyes were without two key starters in linebacker Josey Jewell and safety Brandon Snyder against Northwestern.
It turned out the problem was on the other side of the football. The Iowa defense put together a solid performance and the inability of the offense to move the ball cost Iowa in a 17-10 overtime loss on Saturday.
The Wildcats limited the Hawkeyes to 312 total yards, and more importantly, only two scoring drives. To make matters worse, the Hawkeyes lost the game on a 4th-down drop by tight end Noah Fant in overtime.
3 Things We Learned
No stars, no problem: The Hawkeyes needed its defense to show up big as the offense failed to put points on the scoreboard. It seemed like a tall task with linebacker Josey Jewell and safety Brandon Snyder out with injuries. But the defense played fundamentally sound without its two leaders and put together one of it’s best performances of the season, holding the Wildcats without a point until the third quarter. Being on the field so much as Northwestern ran 82 plays caught up with the Hawkeyes, but this loss isn’t on the defense. Iowa held Northwestern to 339 total yards.
Send it deep: The deep pass success fans were waiting for showed up at Northwestern. Quarterback Nate Stanley put a little more loft on his passes and he connected with wide receiver Matt VandeBerg on a 61-yard play and wide receiver Nick Easley on a 36-yard completion. It wasn’t a perfect day throwing down field, but this was one of Stanley’s best games throwing it 15-plus yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Iowa’s run game still needs a jump start: Northwestern was a litmus test for the rushing attack. The Hawkeyes didn’t receive a passing game on Saturday. The team gained 89 yards, but more importantly, averaged only 2.7 yards per handoff. That’s a far cry from the 5.0 figure Iowa seeks.
Player of the Game
Iowa needed someone on defense to step up with Jewell out. Linebacker Ben Niemann certainly did. He replaced Jewell at middle linebacker and did his best Jewell impression. He recorded 11 tackles and was an instrumental reason why the defense kept Iowa in the game for as long as it did.
Play of the Game
It started off as another Iowa run play. It turned into the biggest pass play of the day. On a play-action pass, Stanley found VandeBerg running down the hash on a 61-yard reception. It was the team’s biggest offensive play of the day and set up Iowa’s only first-half touchdown.
Matt Vandeberg beats Alonzo Mayo for a 61-yard gain. Iowa's in business right now. pic.twitter.com/i4twZ0A7MJ
— Caleb Friedman (@calebfriedman) October 21, 2017
Iowa hosts Minnesota on Oct. 28th. The game will start at 6:30 pm, ET and air on FS1. The Hawkeyes will look to retain the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. Iowa beat Minnesota 14-7 thanks to a 54-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run by Akrum Wadley last season.
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