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Notes, grades and anecdotes from Iowa's 14-7 victory over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium.
The set up — With 5:36 left in the game, Iowa’s offense once again got excellent field position, something it has piddled away the last two weeks. Something had to change this time. The Hawkeyes trailed Minnesota, 7-6, and, at this point, the offense kept getting stuck in a net that it kept throwing over its own head.
Iowa had 11 personnel on the field (one back, one tight end) and had three receivers in a bunched set to the wide side of the field. It was first-and-10 ...
What happened — ... and in just about a blink of an eye, it was a touchdown. Running back Akrum Wadley split a gap, beat Minnesota linebacker Jack Lynn with his quick feet and caught safety Jacob Huff flat footed.
The hole Wadley burst through was like a pair of skinny jeans, but it was enough for him to high step in safely inside the 10-yard line.
Guard Sean Welsh started the snowball downhill at the Gophers with a quick seal block off a pull. Tackle Boone Myers and guard Ike Boettger combo blocked and sealed the middle linebacker. Wadley did the rest.
The result — It was Iowa’s longest play from scrimmage this season. It also put Wadley over 100 yards for the second time this season and for the fifth time in his career.
It also gave Iowa’s beleaguered offensive line something to lean on. You don’t need a reminder that this unit allowed six sacks in the loss to Northwestern. In a game where you needed a metal detector to find some offense in a desert of defense, Iowa rushed for 179 yards (4.4 yards a carry) and quarterback C.J. Beathard was sacked only once.
Beathard did suffer a casualty. He busted a knee brace while sliding for a first down in the second half. Iowa can buy him a new one.
B+ — Floyd says you don’t always want to know how a sausage is made, you just want to enjoy how it tastes.
B — Iowa won its sixth straight trophy game. At this rate, they’ll be putting some piece of metal out there every week. Let’s make next week the “Bring me the head of Purdue Pete” trophy.
B — When things have gone as they have, take ‘em any way you can. But C.J. Beathard can’t withstand those hits forever.
Iowa’s defense had a bounce-back week in Saturday’s game against Minnesota, returning to the form it resembled much of last year during its 12-0 regular season. In addition to intercepting Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner twice, the Hawkeyes held Minnesota to 102 yards rushing — 126 yards less than its average per game on the ground coming in.
Minnesota also averaged 46 run plays per game coming in, but went away from that Saturday with just 29 carries between Shannon Brooks, Rodney Smith, Kobe McCrary and Leidner.
Minnesota went away from the run, particularly, in the late stages. Coach Tracy Claeys cited an early holding call that negated a 15-yard Brooks run and Iowa’s success against the Gophers’ runs as reasons.
“The one (run) was a hold, and we got that,” Claeys said. “We were just struggling up front, that was all there was to it. We couldn’t hold them.”
Brooks finished with 10 carries for 55 yards and Minnesota’s lone touchdown, Smith had 11 carries for 44 yards, McCrary had just one run for two yards and Leidner ran seven times for eight yards.
Despite the lower number of carries, Brooks didn’t complain in his postgame comments.
“That’s one of those things you’re not in control of,” Brooks said. “You’ve got to trust the coaches call and do your job every play.”
101 — First half yards allowed by the Hawkeyes
54 — Yard TD run by Akrum Wadley, the longest play from scrimmage for Iowa this year
52 — Yards allowed by Iowa outside of Minnesota’s drives of 50, 58 and 70
50 — The over/under line set for the Iowa-Minnesota game
28 — Career-long field goal for Keith Duncan
21 — Total score in Saturday’s Hawkeye victory
8:50 — Time of possession advantage for Iowa
8 — Tackles for loss by Minnesota
6 — Pass breakups by Minnesota defensive backs
5 — Drops by Iowa wide receivers
3 — Turnovers for both teams
3 — Combined points off turnovers by both teams
Iowa emerged from its road victory against Minnesota relatively unscathed on the injury front, but was not without a few scary moments in Saturday’s game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Both freshman defensive back Manny Rugamba — who got his first career interception while playing the nickel spot on a slant throw from Gophers’ quarterback Mitch Leidner — and senior tight end George Kittle dealt with what appeared to be minor shoulder injuries during the game. Rugamba left during the second half dealing with his shoulder, but was able to return. Kittle seemed to favor his right arm/shoulder after a hit during the fourth quarter. Kittle played through the injury and did not leave the field until the drive was finished.
Perhaps the scariest moment for Iowa was when quarterback C.J. Beathard took a hit trying to slide for a first down in the third quarter. Beathard wasn’t actually injured, rather his left knee brace was broken, but gave Iowa coaches and fans a few breathless moments when he went down on the field to get it fixed.
Offensive lineman Cole Croston moved to right tackle for this game, and came in dealing with a left ankle issue. Croston played the whole way, though, and said after the game he’s not feeling any ill-effects.
“I’m feeling good,” Croston said. “It was an ankle, yeah, just a nagging-type injury. It was something I wanted to play through and was able to do, so that was nice.
The Hawkeyes hit the road for a second straight game next week, heading to West Lafayette, Ind. to face Big Ten West opponent Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium. Iowa (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) has won both its road games this season, both by a score of 14-7. The Boilermakers are coming off a road trip of their own to Champaign-Urbana, Ill., to face Illinois. Iowa and Purdue kick off at 11 a.m. and will be on ABC, ESPN2 or ESPNU.