Thursday, September 8, 2011

Heinemann on the Hawkeyes - Iowa at Iowa State

Brian Heinemann, who covers Iowa football for the Herald, previews this week's game.

IOWA CITY ––––– It would be easy to look at last week’s games and assume that Iowa will have an easy time with Iowa State in Ames this weekend.

One can look at Iowa’s dominant 34-7 win over Tennessee Tech and compare that to Iowa State’s 20-19, comeback, squeaker of a win over Northern Iowa and think that that tells the whole story.

It doesn’t.

It’s a different year and different teams, but UNI is a team that Iowa barely scraped by, 17-16, two years ago. That’s the same year the Hawkeyes went on to have a fantastic season, narrowly missing winning the Big Ten and picking up an Orange Bowl victory.

One team struggling against UNI hardly diminishes the importance of this intrastate rivalry game.

It’s definitely an important game,” Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt said. “It’s going to be an intense one. It’s always a good matchup and a great rivalry.”

That whole “good matchup” part hasn’t really been the case in recent years. Iowa won 35-7 last year, allowing only a late touchdown as the second- and third-string defense closed out the game. The Hawkeyes won 35-3 in 2009 and 17-5 in 2008.

There were some warning signs and negatives in Iowa’s opening win over Tennessee Tech, though. Iowa State likely isn’t as bad as they looked at times against the Panthers, either.

“(We’ve) got a lot of guys I think that are capable of playing a lot better,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s going to be the thing we have to do not only this week but this month to push forward.”

Fumbles were an issue for Iowa, as were dropped passes. Another problem Ferentz saw was with the defensive line. While they played well and created plenty of pressure, the front four couldn’t seem to get Tech quarterback Tre Lamb on the ground often enough.

Credit to our guys for getting some disruption in there, but you still have to finish the play,” Ferentz said.

Iowa can take several positives out of the opener as well, most notably the fact that they’ve had several extra weeks to prepare for Iowa State’s offense and their use of the no-huddle. That helps both with conditioning and the mental factor of getting ready to face a faster-paced offense.

“It’s good for us,” defensive tackle Dominic Alvis said. “It’s high-tempo. It’s good to practice for that. In practice we’ve been preparing all week for their 15-second plays. It’s good. We like that tempo.”

The area Iowa looked the sharpest was in the passing game. New full-time starter James Vandenberg looked crisp against Tech, making no mistakes and having an efficient afternoon despite the near-monsoon conditions.

His immediate connection and chemistry with McNutt certainly helped him along, as the two hooked up six times for 140 yards and both of Iowa’s passing touchdowns.

It’s nice having him out there,” Vandenberg said of McNutt. “He puts a lot of fear in a lot of guys and they’re going to play off him.”

Iowa State won’t fear the Hawkeyes as a whole. This rivalry is far too important and heated for that, and this Iowa team isn’t as highly regarded as it has been the past few years.

That doesn’t mean Iowa State is going to beat the Hawkeyes, though. While this game should be a bit closer than the previous two blowouts, Iowa should still make this four in a row and bring home the new, “improved” interim Cy-Hawk Trophy.

Who: Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0)
When: 11:00 a.m. Saturday
Where: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa

The series: Iowa leads 39-19, and is 16-7 in Ames
Last meeting: Iowa won 35-7 at Kinnick Stadium last season

This week's challenge: Protecting the football. Iowa put the ball on the ground four times (not counting dropped passes) last weekend. Doing that against an FBS opponent isn’t going to get you very far. If Iowa holds on to the ball, they have the talent to overwhelm Iowa State. If they don’t, it’s anyone’s game.

To pull off an upset: Iowa State will need a significantly better performance than they got last week and will need to find ways to put the ball in the end zone against an Iowa team that has allowed that to happen just once in the last three years. The Cyclones will need to harass Vandenberg throughout, forcing errant throws and creating turnovers, and they will need a flawless offensive performance to pull off the victory. Another case of fumblitis from Iowa would help as well.

Players to watch: Iowa running back Marcus Coker and Iowa State left tackle Kelechi Osemele. Coker will be looking to bounce back in a big way from an extremely disappointing opener. Osemele is one of the nation’s premier left tackles and a likely first-round pick in the NFL Draft, and this year he won’t be looking across the line at Adrian Clayborn. He is, however, nursing a sprained ankle that he has been fighting throughout camp and tweaked in the opener.

Gettin' down with Brian (four keys for Saturday):
First down — Osemele’s health. It will be a totally different game depending on how Osemele’s ankle holds up. Having a less-than-100% left tackle – Osemele left the UNI game early – could make it a long day for Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz.
Second down — Coker’s hands. Iowa’s running back ran for just 41 yards in the opener, a disappointing performance for the Hawkeyes feature back. His legs weren’t the problem, though. Coker has to hold onto the ball Saturday to both regain his own confidence and to prevent his coaches from benching him again in favor of Jason White or De’Andre Johnson.
Third down — Hitting Jantz. Iowa State’s quarterback didn’t have the best of openers, throwing three interceptions and having a relatively miserable game until the final five minutes. Getting Jantz on the ground and keeping him jittery will go a long way toward Iowa’s defense shutting down the Cyclones’ offense.
Fourth down — Keeping contain. Jantz showed last week that he wasn’t very good at dumping the ball off to his underneath routes or his backs – he prefers to run. Jantz ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns against UNI, so Iowa’s front seven will need to make sure Jantz moves sideline to sideline, not vertically.

Trivial tidbit: This game features the last two winners of the Insight Bowl. Iowa defeated Missouri last December, and Iowa State defeated Minnesota the previous year.

Did you hear?: Iowa is bucking the trend many schools have jumped on (most famously – Oregon. Most hideously – Maryland). Ferentz said Tuesday that Iowa has not been approached about or considered changing their uniforms or going with alternate uniforms.

Bottom line: With the questionable health of Osemele and an unproven quarterback coming off a rough first game, Iowa State doesn’t appear to have the firepower to score much against the Iowa defense. Offensively, the Hawkeyes won’t have as strong of a performance as last week, although Marcus Coker should bounce back with a nice game on the ground. Expect to see Vandenberg’s first interception of the season, and for Iowa’s tight ends to be more actively involved this week. Iowa’s defense is too strong and Iowa State’s defense is not quite strong enough, which adds up to another Iowa win over their state rivals.

Final score: Iowa 24, Iowa State 13

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hawkeyes roll despite rain, early miscues

By Brian Heinemann
For The Herald

IOWA CITY ----- A better team would have made the Iowa Hawkeyes pay for a slew of first-half mistakes. Luckily for Iowa, Tennessee Tech wasn’t that team Saturday.

While the rain poured incessantly, the Hawkeyes kept putting the ball on the ground. Dropped passes were one thing – Iowa had plenty of those. Fumbles were quite another.

Marcus Coker had two fumbles on his first four carries. Micah Hyde put the ball on the ground on a punt return but was mercifully called down by contact. De'Andre Johnson fumbled the ball out of bounds late in the game.

“I hope it wasn’t nerves,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think I saw the ball on the ground three times in the first half. We came back and put it on the ground again in the second half. We’re not going to win football games like that. At the end of the day, that’s going to get us beat.

“We’re not a good enough team where we’re going to be able to give up any quarter at all.”

Tight end Zach Derby, with a chance to make his first career touchdown grab, dropped a pass in the end zone on a third down play that was a continuation of Coker’s rough day, as the sophomore slammed into his own quarterback after the snap.

Yet Iowa rolled to a 27-0 halftime lead en route to a 34-7 win at Kinnick Stadium. The result is what they wanted. The way they got there? Not so much.

None of the early miscues were where the real damage came from, though. The real damage came when true freshman Mika’il McCall, who rushed for 61 yards on nine carries after replacing Coker, left the field on crutches with an ankle injury.

“Unfortunately, he’s got a break,” Ferentz said. “It’s going to cost him the year. We’re all disappointed. Nobody’s more disappointed than him.”

And thus the running back woes of recent years continue at Iowa.

But all was not lost. Far from it. When you win by 27 points, something clearly went right. The defense was tremendous, shutting down what was supposed to be a high-powered, fast-paced Tennessee Tech offense. Iowa benefited from several huge plays as well, with a Shaun Prater 89-yard pick-six and a Marvin McNutt 88-yard touchdown reception.

The defensive performance bodes well for Iowa, who will see similar offenses to that of the Golden Eagles over the next several weeks at Iowa State and home against Pittsburgh. Linebacker James Morris picked up his first career interception, defensive tackle Mike Daniels wreaked some havoc in the backfield, and the defense stymied Tech throughout the first three quarters before giving way to the backups.

“We worked hard in practice, we did a lot of no-huddle type drills,” Hyde said. “I think it really prepared us for this game and the upcoming games. We’re running around and we’re more conditioned.”

There’s plenty of room for improvement on both sides of the ball, but none as critical as at the running back position. Coker has to improve, and fast. He finished with 11 carries for 41 yards and two fumbles, not exactly the shimmering stat line many expected to see following his huge performance in the Insight Bowl.

Those numbers aren’t going to be good enough for the Hawkeyes’ feature back. Not in the Big Ten.

“I told him, live to see another day,” McNutt, who finished with six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns, said. “Keep your head up, because there’s still a lot of season left. Let it go, because next week’s another game, another opportunity to step on the field.”

Iowa won’t face a defense as porous as Tech’s was again this season, and the fact that Coker couldn’t get going on Saturday has to be a concern moving forward. Holding on to the ball would help, too.

Coker refused to blame the weather. Nor would he blame the fact that he hasn’t really been hit since the Insight Bowl win over Missouri eight months ago. He knows he needs to get out of his own head and
not focus too much on the fumbles, not get hesitant.

He knows he needs to get better.

“It’s something that just has to motivate you for the next week,” Coker said of the fumbles. “Holding on to the ball is my job. I didn’t do my job.”

The fumbles, the miscues, the dropped passes; even a lightning delay of 84 minutes couldn’t keep the Hawkeyes from rolling. James Vandenberg had a successful start to his first season as a full-time starter, completing 13 of 21 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

For the most part, Iowa succeeded in doing what they needed to do against Tech. They got significant playing time for many backups and seven true freshmen, and, aside from the McCall injury, escaped fairly healthy despite the sloppy conditions.

“It’s the first step of many,” Vandenberg said. “We have to keep pushing forward.”

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Heinemann on the Hawkeyes - Iowa vs. Tennessee Tech

Brian Heinemann, who covers Iowa football for the Herald, previews this week's game.

IOWA CITY ––––– With 21 returning starters, Tennessee Tech is one of the most experienced teams the Iowa Hawkeyes have seen in quite some time.

With an offense dubbed “the fastest 60 minutes in football,” the Golden Eagles will give Iowa a prolonged look at a no-huddle offense for the first of several times this season.

“On the offensive side, they’ve got an attack they’re promoting right now, fantastic-paced, high-tempo,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think we’ll see a lot of that this year, certainly in the first part of our schedule, no doubt about that.”

Both Iowa State and Pittsburgh, who the Hawkeyes meet the next two weeks, run versions of the no-huddle offense. Both Iowa State and Pittsburgh are far more talented than Tennessee Tech, though.

Iowa hasn't lost a season opener in 10 years, a streak that isn’t likely to change this year. If all goes well (read: not like the 2009 UNI opener) the Hawkeyes should get some experience against a frenetic offense and some valuable playing time for some of the new faces on the team.

Those new faces include a half dozen freshmen or more that could see playing time, along with many new starters – Iowa returns the fewest starters in the Big Ten this year – and some backups who didn’t see much playing time last year.

At quarterback, the Hawkeyes will replace now-Kansas City Chief Ricky Stanzi with James Vandenberg. Other big changes come at wide receiver, where Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is gone, replaced in the starting lineup by Keenan Davis, and the defensive line, where Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard and Karl Klug will likely be followed by a rotation.

“Certainly Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns are the two centerpieces of that group,” Ferentz said of the defensive line. “We’ve seen them play excellent football. We’re counting on them to do that. After that we’ve got a lot of guys that are working hard, improving, but I think we could really see a rotation develop.”

The area most likely to see a slew of freshmen on the field is running back, where Iowa is unproven behind incumbent starter Marcus Coker. Figuring to potentially see action after Coker and Jason White are true freshmen Mika’il McCall, Damon Bullock, and Jordan Canzeri, along with redshirt freshman De’Andre Johnson.

Even with the new faces, Iowa figures to roll over Tennessee Tech with relative ease. The real battle Saturday should be for depth chart positioning and playing time as the team looks for answers heading into next weekend’s intrastate showdown with Iowa State.

Who: Iowa (0-0) vs. Tennessee Tech (0-0)
When: 11:00 a.m. Saturday
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
The series: Tied at 0-0
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting

Injury notes: Iowa has several players that won’t play against Tech. Cornerback B.J. Lowery has an arm injury that will keep him sidelined for about a month. Linebackers Dakota Getz , Shane DiBona and Carl Davis are all out, as are fullback Brad Rogers and offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan.

This week's challenge: Staying focused and staying healthy. The last thing Iowa wants is another season-opening struggle. Injuries are a part of the game, but the Hawkeyes would love to avoid any major setbacks in what should amount to a tune-up game.

To pull off an upset: Tennessee Tech would need to channel their inner Appalachian State, along with hoping the Hawkeyes are completely confounded by the high-octane offense of the Golden Eagles. The defense will also need to force Vandenberg into multiple mistakes.

Players to watch: The quarterbacks – Iowa’s Vandenberg and Tech’s Tre Lamb, a third-year starter who can run and pass effectively. On defense, keep an eye on Iowa free safety Micah Hyde, who moves over from cornerback, and linebacker Christian Kirksey.

Gettin' down with Brian (four keys for Saturday):
First down — Weathering the storm. Tennessee Tech will look to come out quick with the no-huddle offense. Iowa’s defense will have to figure out how to slow or stop the high-octane attack early.
Second down — Limiting mistakes. The defense will be challenged all game and doesn’t want to give up big plays to allow Tech to stay in the game. On offense, Vandenberg has to make smart decisions and not force anything.
Third down — Special teams. Last year, the Hawkeyes had well-documented issues on special teams. So far so good in 2011, at least in practice. Now Iowa needs to show consistency in this phase of the game in a live game setting.
Fourth down — Keeping Tim Benford in check. The Tech receiver, a first-team all-Ohio Valley Conference last year, is the Golden Eagles best offensive weapon. Iowa needs to limit his touches to help slow down the Tech offense.

Trivial tidbit: Tennessee Tech has never beaten an FBS opponent, and has lost six games against FBF teams over the past three seasons by a combined score of 285-34.

Did you hear?: Iowa’s captains for this week are Mike Daniels, Marvin McNutt, Tyler Nielsen and Vandenberg.

Bottom line: Tennessee Tech doesn’t have the talent to hang with the Hawkeyes for long. Tech will likely move the ball with some success early as Iowa gets accustomed to the no-huddle offense of the Golden Eagles. Iowa’s defense will keep Tech contained though, and the Hawkeyes offense shouldn’t see much resistance. Expect to see a lot of Coker early; both Coker and Vandenberg should put up nice numbers to start the season off with some momentum.

Final score: Iowa 31, Tennessee Tech 3

Big Ten Predictions
Legends Division
1. Nebraska
2. Iowa
3. Michigan State
4. Northwestern
5. Michigan
6. Minnesota

Leaders Division
1. Wisconsin
2. Penn State
3. Ohio State
4. Illinois
5. Purdue
6. Indiana

Big Ten Title Game: Wisconsin over Nebraska

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Hawk's Eye View is BACK for 2011

By Brian Heinemann
For The Herald

You read it here first - A Hawk's Eye View is back for another season of Iowa Hawkeyes football!

The plan for this season is for the HEV to attend nine of the Iowa Hawkeyes' football games this season, including all seven home games and two away games. A post-game article will run in the Clinton Herald every Monday. Pregame analysis and live chats are also a possibility, but nothing is confirmed yet.

The following games below are slated to be covered:

3 - vs Tennessee Tech
10 - at Iowa State
17 - vs Pittsburgh
24 - vs Louisiana-Monroe

15 - vs Northwestern
22 - vs Indiana

5 - vs Michigan
12 - vs Michigan State
25 - at Nebraska

Coming to you soon from the press box at Kinnick Stadium!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hawkeyes dominate Spartans, stay tied atop Big Ten

By Brian Heinemann
For The Herald

IOWA CITY ----- It can be tantalizing, thinking about what might have been for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Saturday’s 37-6 pummeling of then-No. 5 Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium was a clear glimpse of the team the Hawkeyes could be.

A week removed for a heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin, nobody really knew how Iowa would bounce back. The answer to that question is clear now.

They bounced back with a vengeance.

“I’m guessing it was lingering with everybody,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of the Wisconsin loss. “Those one-point losses are tough, but you’ve still got to do your job, still got to move forward. I think everybody grabbed onto that principle.

“Most importantly, they played a complete game,” he said of his team. “That’s something we have struggled to do this year.”

The players seemed to unanimously agree that they had a fantastic week of practice, with a clearer focus on the minute details and correcting small mistakes that haunted them the previous two weeks. Their coach agreed with the sentiment, but never expected to see a 31-point whipping of a Big Ten frontrunner.

That’s what they did, though. They out-executed, out-played, and badly overpowered the Spartans (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten).

“I just think we played motivated,” defensive end Adrian Clayborn said. “The last two games, we’ve been so-so. We needed to prove a point to ourselves.”

Point taken.

Iowa (6-2, 3-1) proved to themselves that they can be the team they looked like after a blistering 9-0 start last year. They proved that they still have some of the magic from last year left, despite its absence in both the Arizona and Wisconsin losses this season.

For evidence of that, see Tyler Sash’s pick-and-ladder play, where he pitched the ball after intercepting it and watched Micah Hyde run 66 yards for a touchdown. Or look at Ricky Stanzi’s 56-yard pass to tight end Brad Herman in the second quarter, which, for all intents and purposes, should have been an easy interception for Michigan State.

Everything was clicking for the Hawkeyes, in all three phases of the game. It may not have been Halloween officially, but it was a scary sight for the Spartans to run into these Hawkeyes, playing at this level.

“It just shows that when we all play together, error-free, this is what happens,” cornerback Shaun Prater, who had an interception and 10 tackles, said. “We just have to keep playing like this week after week.”

“That’s the team you want to be,” receiver Marvin McNutt said.

The Iowa team that showed up Saturday was the team that many expected to see the entire year. It was the type of win so dominant, it makes you wonder how this team lost twice this season.

The Hawkeyes don’t look back, though. They say it every week, and they’ve proven coming off of their two losses that they practice what they preach.

So, switch your gaze. Focus on the future. The two losses may be disappointing, but a 10-2 record last year was good enough to get Iowa to a BCS bowl. The road isn’t going to be easy now, with three of the final four coming on the road and the lone home game being against Ohio State, but the Big Ten title isn’t out of reach.

It would be easy to call Saturday’s thumping of Michigan State a statement, a defining win. The team doesn’t view it that way at all. To them, all it’s done is given them another Big Ten win.

To the outside world, this win put Iowa in a four-way tie for first place in the conference, giving them a chance to control their own destiny to some extent. The Rose Bowl is still in play, although the Hawkeyes would need some help from the rest of the conference to get there, and another 10-2 season is obviously on the table.

Try explaining any of this to the Iowa players, though, and their eyes will almost gloss over on you. They don’t particularly care, and, although they focus forward, they never seem to be looking more than seven days ahead.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Stanzi said. “You guys shouldn’t worry about it either, because it’ll all shake out for itself. You’ll find the answer in a couple of weeks now, four weeks when the season’s over. It’ll all shake itself out. That’s why we don’t focus on it – there’s really no reason to.”

If Iowa can keep their focus where it was for the past week, the showdown with Ohio State in three weeks could hold huge implications. But Indiana is all the Hawkeyes will be focused on this week, trying to figure out how to slow down the Pistol offense and keep quarterback Ben Chappell from throwing all over them, as he’s done to so many others.

Iowa has some of their swagger back now. It’s not that they ever lost confidence, but it’s never a bad thing to have reminder of just how good you can be.

“If we play the way we’re supposed to play, it’s hard to beat us,” Clayborn said.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hawkeyes fall short as defense falters

By Brian Heinemann
For The Herald
IOWA CITY ––––– When push came to shove, the Wisconsin Badgers simply lined up and jammed the ball right down the collective throats of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Four plays in a row in the waning minutes. Four straight runs, totaling 19 yards. Just like that, Wisconsin capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ate up the majority of the last nine minutes, burying the Hawkeyes in the process.
“We knew that coming in Iowa’s defense was rock solid, and they have been for the last few years,” Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien said. “We put it on our offensive line, and it started with them. They played their tails off.”
Iowa’s defense was supposed to be one of the best in the nation. Last week, they gave up 522 yards to an explosive Michigan offense, while Wisconsin imposed it’s will on then-No. 1 Ohio State.
Still, expectations nationally were that Iowa (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) would be able to withstand Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1). And with 8:35 left, a six point lead, and the Badgers backed up on their own 20, the defense had their chance to snuff out Wisconsin and keep the road to the Big Ten title going through Iowa City.
They didn’t, and the Hawkeyes fell 31-30 in a heartbreaker at Kinnick Stadium.
It’s a loss that’s going to sting for a while.
“The defense didn’t step up, and that’s why we lost the game,” Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, voice quaking and eventually brought to tears, said. “We’ve got to stop them in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t.
“Whatever we’ve done in practice, on the player side, it’s not working,” he added. “We need to change things around. The coaches are giving us the opportunities to make plays, and we just aren’t.”
It’s easy to point the finger at the defense, but for some it will be easier to point it at the offense, which had a minute to drive into field goal range and all three timeouts at their disposal. After a fourth-down quarterback sneak with 14 seconds left, Iowa made the questionable decision to use their last timeout instead of having Ricky Stanzi spike the ball.
That decision left Iowa with 12 seconds, no timeouts, and too far to go for freshman kicker Michael Meyer to take a shot. Stanzi’s last gasp, a short shovel pass to Adam Robinson, ended with Robinson being taken down inbounds and the final few seconds agonizingly ticking off the clock.
“We wanted to burn the timeout and just go from there,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I guess we could have gone the other way. Might have saved us two seconds, something like that. I don’t think that was exactly the turning point in the game.”
The players backed the decision. Robinson said that with the confusion among the team as the referees were resetting the ball, Iowa likely would have incurred a penalty had Stanzi tried to snap the ball to clock it.
“There’s different ways a two-minute drive can go,” Stanzi said. “You just kind of have to live with whatever decision you make.”
Even with a spike, another play, and a timeout, there’s no guarantee. Iowa has to live with their decision anyway and try to regroup and figure out where to go from here.
With an undefeated Michigan State coming to Kinnick this weekend, there isn’t much time to do so. Special teams are still an issue – a penalty led to a do-over and a big return, a blocked extra point ended up being the final margin of defeat, and a botched snap cost Iowa a field goal try.
But there’s more going wrong than just special teams.
“We can still win the Big Ten; we can still go somewhere nice for a bowl game,” offensive guard Julian Vandervelde said. “The important thing right now is that we’re able to learn from this. We’re going to be hurting on this one for a while, but at the same time it makes you kind of itchy to get back out there on the field. We’ll be hungry and we’ll be ready to go next week.”
That old axiom that Iowa always preaches – look back just long enough to learn from what you did, and then keep focusing ahead – has never been more critical this season than it is now. After losing to Arizona, Iowa knew they had an entire game to bounce back.
Not this time.
“Looking back, that’s all nice and everything, but we’re going to keep looking forward,” Stanzi said. “In the Big Ten, playing football, if you’re going to look back, you might as well stay there.”
Losing to Wisconsin doesn’t put Iowa in the back of the Big Ten by any stretch of the imagination, but this could be a turning point to the season for a simple reason. With their backs to the wall, the Iowa defense did something unusual.
They didn’t just bend. They buckled. 
They broke.
For the second week in a row, Iowa’s defense was a letdown. That defense, a once proud unit, suffered a major blow to their pride, leaving their leader in tears. Whether that serves as major motivation or a major deflator remains to be seen.
Maybe the Hawkeyes will turn it around with the looming return of defensive coordinator Norm Parker. Maybe the Hawkeyes figure things out, and go back to the dominance they are accustomed to.
But maybe, just maybe, this Hawkeyes defense just isn’t as good as advertised. One thing is clear, though, no matter what the truth is.
This one hurts.