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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IOWA CITY — No. 15 Iowa will go into Iowa State week with a 1-0 record after Saturday’s not terribly contested 45-21 victory over Miami (Ohio).
— Three starters were out for Iowa in the first half. LB Josey Jewell was ejected for targeting after Iowa’s first defensive series. He missed the second half per NCAA rules and will be back for the Iowa State game next weekend. Sophomore Jack Hockaday replaced Jewell.
DE Parker Hesse did something to his left hamstring after he scooped up a fumble. He left in the first quarter and didn’t return. OLB Ben Niemann sat out some of the second quarter, but did return for the second half. Not sure what happened to Niemann. Walk-on Kevin Ward replaced Niemann.
How deep is the defense? Depth is going to have to develop on the run.
— The offense operated with the precision of a Mercedes.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard’s first incompletion was nearly a TD to WR Riley McCarron, who fumbled out of the end zone but was saved by official review, which called it an incomplete pass. That made Beathard 8 of 9.
On the first drive of the second half, Beathard completed two passes that you file under “throwing the dude open,” including a 12-yard zip to Jerminic Smith for a TD.
Smith had three catches for 51 yards and a TD through three quarters. He also threw a key block in the first quarter on a 20-plus gain by RB Akrum Wadley. Smith wasn’t even slated to start. That would’ve been sophomore Jay Scheel, but he was held out with a hamstring injury.
— Through three quarters, punter Ron Coluzzi averaged 41.7 yards on three punts and had five touchbacks as kickoff specialist.
Remember, he’s a graduate transfer from Central Michigan. In other words, a great free agent pick up. So far.
— Through three quarters, six true freshmen threw in their redshirts — LBs Amani Jones and Kristian Welch, safety Amani Hooker, cornerback Manny Rugamba, WR Devonte Young and kicker Keith Duncan.
LATE EDIT: QB Nathan Stanley is in. That’s a big headline. RB Toks Akinribade and TE Noah Fant also played on Iowa’s last scoring drive. DT Cedric Lattimore also played in the defense’s final drive.
So, 10 true freshmen played for Iowa today.
— In conclusion: Defense was extremely vanilla. Didn’t show anything in personnel packages. Rotated several D-linemen, with redshirt freshman Anthony Nelson going nearly the whole way after replacing Hesse. He also had 1.5 sacks.
And so, the defense gave up two 75-yard scoring drives and a 74-yarder going into the fourth quarter and Miami averaged 6.5 yards a play early in the fourth.
Way too early to sound any alarms, but the first-team defense played deep into the fourth quarter against a team picked to finish fifth in the MAC East. And it had to play deep into the fourth quarter because it allowed three long TD drives.
Too many mistakes on defense. Too much catching and not enough attacking. That said, lots and lots of new players out there.
Beathard took a few shots. Really can’t have that, right? On the other hand, Iowa averaged 6.4 yards (only 19 rushes) through the early fourth quarter.