IOWA CITY – An afternoon where Iowa offensive had a golden chance to answer several questions instead of creating more worry, the Hawkeyes mingled amid the stagnation and stability.
It wasn’t the standout performance many had hoped for after two weeks of defensive headlines. This unit, apart from two long Tyler goodson races, still lacked the explosiveness necessary to navigate the road against opponents far superior to Saturday’s foe, Kent State. And Iowa’s gambling appeal largely reflected that. But there were signs of life quarterback Spencer Petras needed to show as he methodically moved the No.7 Hawkeyes across the field on two important drives.
Mix these ingredients together and the end product is still worth questioning. Saturday’s 30-7 win over the Golden Flashes isn’t an offensive setback, but it can’t be seen as a huge leap forward. Those hoping to find clarity on Saturday will have to wait a little longer.
The good has largely revealed itself without glitter or glamor. Iowa’s two midfield touchdowns – one to complete the first half, the other to close the third quarter – took 31 games combined to cover 175 yards, taking just 43 seconds less than one whole quarter of the game clock. Only two of those 31 calls covered more than 11 yards.
But within these two extended possessions were several important moments of execution. The 20-play, 95-yard drive before the horn at halftime saw Iowa convert four third downs, including the eventual TD pass to Sam LaPorta that gave Iowa a 16-7 advantage. . The other featured roughly the same, with the Hawkeyes registering three third downs and a fourth. Goodson’s mad run to the end zone at 35 yards cemented the success.
“You saw the running game, the passing game, it all came up,” said Petras. “All 11 guys showed up. They were great records.”
Between that score and LaPorta’s capture of 18 yards to open possession, Iowa has recorded nine straight games with single-digit distance. Right now, consider this to be a microcosm of how Petras and society works best. Easy, low risk calls that keep Iowa in manageable situations. This attack, as it is with many across the country, cannot play behind the sticks. With a menacing defense on the other side, the urgency to open things up diminishes dramatically.
The final stat lines look promising. Petras finished 25-for-36 for 209 yards and one score; he hit Nico Ragaini late for a gain of 48 yards to increase that distance. Goodson’s 22 carries for 153 yards and three scores for a career day – so far. And nine different Hawkeyes caught assists.
So there is room for improvement, that’s for sure. But this show still doesn’t fully answer offensive questions from Iowa.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preparations for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.