INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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The Setup — Purdue had just pulled to 28-7 after a David Blough 25-yard TD pass to TE Brycen Hopkins with 1:29 left in the first half. Iowa had the decent wind (maybe 15 to 20 mph out of the north) in its faces, so you probably thought drain the final 1:18 off the clock and get to the locker room for orange slices and water.
But that touchdown by Purdue, was that something you could just let stand? Didn’t it irritate you? Maybe just a little bit?
Maybe it did.
What happened — Iowa’s offense came out in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end). It was a little tighter 11, with tight end Peter Pekar lining up in an H-back slot. That was kind of key.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard was back in the shotgun. So, shotgun and 11 personnel, that’s an Iowa pass 98 to 99 percent of the time. That’s one of Iowa’s strongest and most well-known tendencies. Iowa has a single back and is in shotgun, the defense is thinking pass and, likely, is on its heels.
Well, not this time.
Pekar pulled and sealed an unblocked defensive tackle. Guard Sean Welsh and center James Daniels executed a perfect combo block with Welsh shop carting a defensive tackle out of the way and Daniels getting a nice seal on a linebacker. The middle of the field was opened except for one more player.
Wide receiver Jay Scheel got enough of a paddy cake block in on the safety. It was enough of a block for running back Akrum Wadley.
This was sort of a continuation from what we saw last week. At Minnesota, Wadley scored on a 54-yard run with Iowa in a spread formation and running a quick-hitting inside zone play. The Gophers didn’t have numbers in the box and Iowa got a hat on a hat.
Same deal here. The formation spread out Purdue’s defense. The handoff went to Iowa’s quickest pair of feet and the blocks were perfectly executed and quickly executed.
The Result — Wadley cut off Scheel’s block and was 5 yards past Purdue’s defense within maybe 1.5 seconds from snap. Wadley’s 75-yarder was timed in 4.41 seconds by folks with DVRs on Twitter. I’m not disputing that. It was well conceived, well executed and was the perfect answer to the little sign of life Purdue showed in the first half.
The 75-yarder was a career long for Wadley, topping a 65-yarder he had last season at Indiana. It also gave Iowa a 35-7 lead and probably was the first domino in what will be Purdue’s impending coaching search.
Wadley didn’t high-step like he did last week, but he did the “make it rain” hand signal thingie. It was sunny in West Lafayette, for the Hawkeyes anyway.
A-minus — You might be able to find the Darrell Hazell memorial headphones on eBay Sunday morning. The balloon has run out of air in West Lafayette. — Marc Morhouse
A minus — With Iowa up 35-7, the ghosts of Ross and Ade left Ross-Ade Stadium at halftime, in search of a tavern that served spirits. — Mike Hlas
1 — This was the first time in Iowa’s last five games in which a game wasn’t decided by one score.
9 — For the first time in the history of Iowa football, the Hawkeyes have won nine consecutive road games.
45 — The 45 yards Iowa’s Jerminic Smith gained on a second-quarter reverse was 34 more rushing yards than Purdue had in the first half.
49 — Never before had the Hawkeyes scored 49 points at Purdue. It was Iowa’s highest total in a Big Ten game since getting 55 at Minnesota in 2008.
100 — Iowa was keeping it 100 Saturday. Akrum Wadley rushed for 170 yards and LeShun Daniels added 156. It was the first time the Hawkeyes had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game since Shonn Greene (115) and Jewel Hampton (114) against Indiana in 2008.
199 — Iowa had 199 yards in the first quarter. For good measure, the Hawkeyes tacked on another 198 in the second period. After averaging 297.5 yards over its previous four games, Iowa had a season-high 520 against the Boilermakers.
504 — Purdue, with a 360-yard second half, had 504 yards. That snapped the Hawkeyes’ string of 47 straight games without allowing 500 yards, which had been the longest active FBS streak.
1966 — Purdue honored its 1966 football team, which won the 1967 Rose Bowl. It won’t be honoring the 2016 team in 2066.
Iowa starting offensive tackle Cole Croston missed the game with an ankle injury.
“We’ll see,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked if Croston would be back for the next game. “He was feeling a little better Thursday and Friday, so that’s encouraging.”
The resulting shuffle put Ike Boettger back at right tackle. He had started this season’s first five games there before going to left guard last week at Minnesota.
Boettger and Boone Myers are the only Iowa offensive linemen to start every game this season. But Myers went to the dressing room late in the third quarter after getting his lower right leg checked. He returned to the sideline, but didn’t play after that. Ferentz said he had a sprain, and will “hopefully be back this week.”
Hawkeye tight end George Kittle went to the dressing room in the first quarter, limping. He was in street clothes with his right foot in a protective walking boot after halftime. Ferentz said X-rays of the foot were negative.
Not that it mattered much, perhaps, but Purdue played without senior starting defensive tackle Jake Replogle. He sat out of practice this week because of headaches. He has 28 tackles this season, and seven career sacks. This was the first game he has missed in three seasons.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz has sounded off a few times this season on how cut blocks have changed along with a change in the rules this season. It first came up going into North Dakota State and then became a really big deal at Rutgers, when running back LeShun Daniels had a long TD blown dead because of a clipping call.
Iowa didn’t have a TD called back against Purdue, but a chop block was called on guard Sean Welsh and tackle Boone Myers that put Iowa first-and-goal from the Boilermakers’ 17.
During a stoppage in play, Ferentz gave the officiating crew the business. Some of the lip reading went along the lines of “Never in my life ...” and then some “Bleeeeep, bleeeep, bleeeep.”
In the postgame, Ferentz walked this one back. He said Purdue put a different defense on the field and, yes, penalty on the Hawkeyes.
“First of all, I’ve never seen that called in that situation, but they were in a defense that was a little bit unusual for that situation,” Ferentz said. “When it was explained to me by our guys, I could see why it happened. I did apologize later on and said, ‘Hey, you guys did get that right.’”
We will have the debate on when garbage time begins, but Iowa cornerback Desmond King did his part in keeping Saturday’s fourth quarter very much in the garbage time category.
Yes, yes, Iowa did put its defensive starters back into the game when the Boilermakers climbed within 42-28 on a 54-yard TD pass with 5:36 left in the fourth quarter. It was close, kind of, maybe.
In went the first-team defense and out went the close.
On Purdue’s next series, QB David Blough threw late into the flat along the right sideline. “Late into the flat” is bad enough. “Late into the flat” against King, who picked off a school-record eight passes last season, turns the quarterback into a tackler.
King quickly turned defense into offense and returned his first interception of the season 41 yards for a score to make it 49-28 with 1:44 left in the game. It was King’s third career interception return for a TD. Iowa has turned seven of its 11 takeaways this season into TDs.
“They started taking shots and we wanted the starters in to prevent that and there it was,” King said. “It was nice to get into the end zone.”
Keegan Render, a sophomore from Indianola, made his second start. He was at left guard Saturday. He played right guard in the Hawkeyes’ 23-21 loss to North Dakota State.
He received Iowa’s second-lowest overall grade on offense and lowest grade in run-blocking for the North Dakota State fiasco. This game was different.
The Hawkeyes picked up all sorts of yards running behind the left side of the line. Of course, they also picked up mass quantities up the middle and to the right.
Iowa comes home for its game of the season (so far) when it meets Wisconsin Saturday at 11 a.m. The Badgers took a No. 10 national-ranking into their game against No. 2 Ohio State Saturday night in Madison. Wisconsin-Iowa could very well be considered a West Division championship-elimination game.
|For a more detailed breakdown of this game, click here.|