Iowa Football

Iowa football second viewing: A few thoughts on Saturday's loss to Purdue

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) huddles with his team as they played against Purdue during the second quarter of an
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) huddles with his team as they played against Purdue during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

CEDAR RAPIDS — We’ll go through it a third time to try and pick up some more things, but a second viewing of Saturday’s 24-20 loss for the Iowa Hawkeyes to Purdue didn’t change any of the basic thinking.

Iowa did a lot good: 460 yards of offense, 195 rushing, and forced two turnovers defensively, interceptions by Barrington Wade and Matt Hankins. The offensive output, by the way, was the most for Iowa since 2018 against Indiana (479).

But it did some bad, and that cost the Hawkeyes the game. Two critical lost fumbles by running back Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent inside Purdue’s 30-yard line combined with 10 penalties for 100 yards were too much to overcome.

Here are a few other thoughts:

Iowa has found itself a punter, mate

Tory Taylor was a revelation at the punter position for the Hawkeyes.

He averaged 44.2 yards on his six kicks, with a high of 52. That came on his very first punt.

Two of his punts were downed inside the 20, one at the 1.

Taylor is a heck of a story. He’s a 23-year-old true freshman from Melbourne, Australia, who Iowa recruited out of the ProKick Australia camp in Melbourne.

Special teams coach LeVar Woods flew some 24 hours to get to Australia and meet Taylor and his parents and offer him a scholarship. He’d played only Australian Rules Football before and Saturday was the first time he’d ever seen an American football game in person.

“He is kind of representative of our guys,” Coach Kirk Ferentz said postgame. “We have guys from Chauncey Golston to Alaric Jackson that have played a lot of football and played really well. Then you have guys like Spencer (Petras) and Tory. He not only had not played, but he had never seen an American football game played before today.

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“In his first punt, he had to punt out of the end zone. There was a lot to like out of him and a few things he would like to take back. He is probably pretty representative of our football team (that way).”

Where was Ihmir Smith-Marsette?

Though Petras completed passes to eight different receivers in his first college quarterbacking start, one of them was not senior wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Smith-Marsette had zero catches and only a couple of targets in the game, though he did run a couple of jet sweeps for 18 yards and returned kickoffs. His lack of involvement in the passing game was curious, as he’d caught at least one pass in 15 consecutive games.

The last donut he had was against Illinois in 2018, and Iowa won that game, 63-0.

“There were a couple of opportunities to get him the ball that I missed,” Petras said. “But they are a good team that played well on defense.”

The wildcat

Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz brought out the old Wildcat formation for a couple of plays.

Goodson lined up in the shotgun formation at quarterback and ran either right or left. How much will that be used moving forward?

“That might be the first time we have used it,” Kirk Ferentz said. “We have been talking about it since February. We were just looking for some ways to use the skill set of some of the guys that we have and we thought it was something we could integrate into our offense.”

Defensive depth hurt

It was not ideal for Iowa to lose two middle linebackers for the Purdue game. Jack Campbell has mono and his backup Seth Benson also was unavailable.

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Up front, anticipated starting tackle Austin Schulte also missed the game for an unspecified reason. Nick Niemann slid from weakside linebacker to the middle, with redshirt freshman Jestin Jacobs getting the start at weakside.

Wade played the cash position. Ferentz said Campbell and Schulte will miss at least a couple more games.

“I think Nick did a great job sliding in, and Barrington, who has been a good player for us, even a forgotten player at times, both those guys did a good job,” Ferentz said. “Barrington had a pick today, which was good to see. We aren’t making any excuse there. We weren’t quite good enough today.”

Offensive line rotations

With the exception of one series, Iowa’s tackles were Jackson on the left and Coy Cronk on the right, with Tyler Linderbaum manning the center position. Mark Kallenberger replaced Cronk on the right side for that one series.

The guards were rotated, as expected. Kyler Schott got eight series at left guard and three on the right. Cole Banwart played nine series at right guard and Kallenberger one.

Sophomore Cody Ince played four series at left guard. The combination of Jackson, Schott, Linderbaum, Banwart and Cronk was the most used (eight series) and produced 10 points on a touchdown and field goal.

The combination of Jackson, Ince, Linderbaum, Kallenberger and Cronk produced a TD on its only series together. Jackson, Ince, Linderbaum, Schott and Cronk played three series together, with Iowa getting a field goal in one of them.

Northwestern up next

Northwestern comes to Iowa City for the home opener Saturday. It’s a 2:30 p.m. kickoff (ESPN).

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The Wildcats rolled Maryland in their first game, 43-3, running to a 30-3 halftime lead. They piled up 537 yards of offense, including 325 rushing.

Drake Anderson had 103 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey, a grad transfer from Indiana, completed 23 of 30 passes for 212 yards and a TD.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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