IOWA CITY — For the Hawkeyes, this was waiting to ride the roller coaster.
They had to stand around and be patient before they could take the ride that is Rutgers. Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, everyone was tall enough for the ride and they remain for amusement only.
No. 20 Iowa (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) had to wait for field position it could work with. It had to wait for Rutgers (1-1, 0-1) to lose its wallet and cellphone in the loop-the-loop. But in the end, everyone threw their arms in the air and had fun riding the Rutgers.
The most relevant question at the end was whether or not ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Ames next week for Iowa at Iowa State (1-0).
Quarterback Nate Stanley threw three TD passes, including a 58-yarder to wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette less than three minutes into the game, and the Iowa defense picked up its third shutout in its last seven Big Ten games with a 30-0 blanking of Rutgers before 61,808 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa’s offense trucked for 438 yards, while the defense held Rutgers to just 125 yards, the Knights’ lowest output in 14 games and worst since the last game of 2017.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked in postgame what was on top of his list of concerns. He did mention some clock management at the end of the first half that did cost Iowa a chance at a touchdown.
“I thought our tempo out there, offensively especially, we’ve got to get in and get out,” Ferentz said. “ ... We have to be cleaner in our communication.”
It’s really good when the head coach tosses out abstracts on the to-do list.
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For the second week, there was an injury that stilled Kinnick Stadium. Junior safety Geno Stone suffered a knee injury and left the game in the second half. Last week, offensive tackle Alaric Jackson suffered a sprained knee and will be out at least through next week.
Stone showed up for postgame interviews. That’s usually a good sign.
“I feel great,” Stone said. “I went down, but I told my coach I wanted to go back in. They didn’t want me to go back out there and risk anything.”
The risk taking on this Saturday was shelved on the Hawkeyes’ first drive. Smith-Marsette got a clean release from the line of scrimmage and just ran a simple seam route right down the middle of Rutgers’ defense. Iowa had both running backs on the field and the Knights left a flat-footed corner against full-speed Smith-Marsette.
“Nate delivered a great ball and all I had to do was finish it,” said Smith-Marsette, who led the Hawkeyes with four catches for 113 yards (his first career 100-yard game) and two TDs. “It was a great start to a good game.”
It was a ride on a roller coaster. For the Hawkeyes, it was a matter of waiting for your turn.
Iowa had passing plays of 58, 33, 25, 25 and 23. The Knights also had three pass interference penalties. The Hawkeyes also had six running plays of 10-plus yards, including running back Toren Young’s 31-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Iowa again worked around Jackson’s injury with several offensive line combos. Also for the second consecutive week on the O-line, junior offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs flipped tackle positions like most people just know how to walk.
“ ... I think he is ready for any challenge that’s going to show itself,” Ferentz said.
For the second straight week, defensive end A.J. Epenesa failed to throw the offensive tackle across from him out of the stadium and he didn’t jam his fingers through the turf and shake it until the QB fell. For the second straight week, the preseason All-American affected the living daylights out of the game.
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“I did sense some unrealistic expectations last week after the game,” Ferentz said with a smile.
Epenesa picked up his first sack of the season in the second quarter. He jumped over the O-lineman at the end and almost missed out on the sack. He also was credited with four QB hurries.
“Jumping, you’re not supposed to jump ever,” Epenesa said. “He kept it and kind of just went down and I went over him a little bit. Jumping is ill advised.”
Iowa got to Rutgers QB McLane Carter, who suffered an injury and sat out the second half. Rutgers threw for just 41 yards, the lowest for an Iowa opponent since Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl.
“We disrupted their quarterback and part of that is because we were covering really well,” Ferentz said. “He didn’t have a place to go with the ball.”
Everyone got to ride the rides.
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