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COLLEGE PARK, MD. — If you blinked during Friday night’s Iowa-Maryland game, you might’ve missed another turnover. The Hawkeyes forced seven turnovers in their 37-point manhandling of the Terrapins. Here is a closer look at those seven turnovers:
Turnover No. 1: Riley Moss’ interception
With Maryland playing in the shotgun formation on third-and-6, Iowa rushed four, which was not a surprise considering how sparingly defensive coordinator Phil Parker uses blitzes. Those four were certainly enough, though.
Defensive lineman John Waggoner quickly shrugged off a block and penetrated the “B” gap. Teammate Zach VanValkenburg was also providing pressure. That forced Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa to fire off a throw quickly. Too quickly.
He either significantly underthrew Jeshaun Jones or overthrew Chigoziem Okonkwo. It’s hard to tell for sure which one because the throw was so off the mark.
Iowa cornerback Riley Moss then caught the ball lofted in his direction.
Turnover No. 2: Jay Higgins’ fumble recovery on kickoff return
Star wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. has been a reliable option for Maryland all season. He coughed up the football at one of the worst times possible Friday night, though.
He returned the kickoff after Iowa scored its first touchdown to take a 10-7 lead from the Maryland 4-yard-line. As he angled his way toward the right side of the field, Iowa linebacker and special teams player Sebastian Castro leveled a massive hit on Demus.
The athletic wide receiver was stopped dead in his tracks. He used his hand to try to stay up while his knee bent in a way it’s not supposed to bend. He then couldn’t keep control of the ball as he fell to the ground.
Iowa’s Jay Higgins recovered the fumble, setting up the offense with excellent field position.
Along with setting up a touchdown drive, the play took away one of Maryland’s most potent offensive weapons. Demus did not return to the game after being carted off with the apparent knee injury. He had more receiving yards in the first quarter than any of his fellow receivers did in all four quarters.
Turnover No. 3: Jack Koerner’s interception
Just four plays after Iowa’s special teams unit recovered the fumble that set up a quick touchdown, Iowa’s defense had another big play.
Once again, Maryland was in shotgun, and Iowa rushed four defensive linemen. The four-man rush again challenged the Terrapins’ offensive line.
As the pocket was beginning to falter, Tagovailoa tried needling a throw between two defenders in zone coverage to hit an open Corey Dyches.
Throwing over 6-foot-5 linebacker Jack Campbell proved to be a mistake, though. Campbell tipped the pass, and free safety Jack Koerner caught it. While Koerner gets credit in the stats for the pick, it wouldn’t have been possible without Campbell’s tip.
As Koerner wove between defenders, Dyches hustled and poked the ball loose from Koerner’s arm, but Iowa recovered the fumble.
Turnover No. 4: Dane Belton’s interception
Maryland, lined up in the pistol formation, used play action on first-and-10. The offensive line gave Tagovailoa no shortage of time to throw.
Unlike the previous two picks when Tagovailoa appeared to be rushed into throwing, the Hawaiian had plenty of time to scan for options. Rather than choosing a shorter-yard target that was open underneath the zone, he got overambitious and threw into the strength of the zone coverage.
Tagovailoa targeted Dyches again. Iowa’s Dane Belton was right in front of him and in perfect position to make the interception.
Turnover No. 5: Terry Roberts’ interception
With four seconds left in the first half and the ball at Maryland’s 37-yard-line, Tagovailoa needed some time for a Hail Mary to develop.
He got that time, too.
Tagovailoa had about five seconds — some of that time sitting in the pocket and some of that time running toward the line of scrimmage — before he launched the throw.
But Iowa’s coverage downfield was solid. Even if it wasn’t, Tagovailoa’s pass was wobbly and came up short of the nearest Maryland receiver. Cornerback Terry Roberts was in position to record his first interception for the last play before halftime. One could say that play was emblematic of how the whole first half went.
Turnover No. 6: Kaevon Merriweather’s interception
After a turnover-free third quarter, Iowa’s defense was back to making big plays in the fourth quarter with the game well out of reach for the Terrapins.
A quickly-enclosing pocket didn’t give Tagovailoa much time.
Iowa defensive back Jermari Harris provided tight coverage of Maryland wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, so it was already a low-percentage pass. Then strong safety Kaevon Merriweather jumped into the passing lane to record Iowa’s fifth interception of the day.
Turnover No. 7: Quinn Schulte’s interception
Iowa’s massive 37-point lead meant more playing time for some reserves, including free safety Quinn Schulte.
The former Cedar Rapids Xavier standout, who joined Iowa’s program as a walk-on, picked off Maryland backup quarterback Reece Udinski, who put too much on a pass intended for wide receiver Dino Tomlin.
The exciting moment for Schulte got more exciting when he broke free for a 42-yard run after the pick before being forced out of bounds at the 9-yard-line.
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