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Iowa Football Notebook: A Well-Earned Moment for Devante Young

September 15, 2019

Written by Jack Bacon

Hawkeye Nation
AMES, Iowa – There were plenty of heroic storylines during Saturday’s classic CyHawk matchup, but perhaps none as fun as that of Devonte Young. Young came to Iowa as a receiver and battled for playing time last year after making the switch to defensive back. He has shone brightest on special teams, where his teammates credit him as an oft overlooked anchor of the unit.

That quiet leadership paid off Saturday night when he hopped on the game winning fumble recovery. When the Iowa State defense put up a frustratingly-perfect stop that would have given the Cyclones a chance to take the lead with 1:36 to play, Redshirt Freshman Terry Roberts’ hot pursuit angle forced his blocker straight into the ISU return man. Young also beat his man, and was there to scoop up the game winning recovery.

While the game-sealing moment was certainly a lucky break, it was well earned by a special teams unit that kept the Hawkeyes afloat all night. The fact that it was completed by two players who represent Iowa’s special teams archetypes- the up and coming young player looking to make a splash and the veteran just hungry for a shot- makes the game-of-the-week’s stellar finish that much sweeter for Hawk fans.

Speaking of Special Teams…

There was another special teams hero for Iowa last night: Sir Keith Duncan, first of his name, white knight of primetime Iowa football wins. Duncan, of course, lifted Iowa across the finish line against third ranked Michigan back in 2016, and scored the majority of the team’s points tonight in one of their most high profile wins since.

Duncan put up four field goals, making up two thirds of the Hawkeyes’ 18 points. His long for the night was 42 yards, and it was his consistency that allowed Iowa to come out on top of a game it probably had no right to win without scoring multiple touchdowns. He also knocked in the game’s last lead change with under five minutes to play.

Nate Stanley is Iowa

Stanley’s game, as it so often does, reflected the performance of the entire Iowa team last night. It was far from perfect. He missed deep targets, threw at least two passes that certainly could have been intercepted, and checked down at times when he may not have had to.

But much of the time he looked poised and in control. He picked up important yardage and first downs with his feet when plays failed. His statistics don’t paint the full picture, as his passing touchdown streak came to an end and the team put up a relatively light 201 passing yards. But he put his body on the line, often willing the offense to first downs that proved to be critical.

Like the team itself, Stanley faced his toughest test of the season against a powerful ISU defensive line and a blitzing Cyclone secondary. Like the team, he stepped up when he had to (see his second half laser on third and a million to Smith-Marsette that kept a scoring drive alive). Like the team, he must continue to improve his performance each week if he wants to achieve his lofty goals.

Running Backs 

Mekhi Sargent was rumored to be battling injuries coming into the contest, and while his 58 yards came on physical plays that at times involved dragging defenders behind him and falling forward for extra yardage, his 13 carries were supplemented by 24 more from his teammates.

Somewhat surprisingly, Ivory Kelly-Martin re-emerged with the second most running back carries, five runs totaling 20 yards. Tyler Goodson again got a few reps, averaging 5.3 yards on his carries, and Toren Young pounded the ball four times in short yardage situations.

Iowa’s reliance on its backfield stable probably hints that Sargent is in fact banged up in some way. Still, he was healthy enough to play at a high level and he now has a Bye week to rest up. Perhaps more importantly, it shows that Iowa does in fact have a stable that can compete in big time games.

Bend (A Lot), Don’t Break 

The banged up Iowa defense bent, bent, and bent some more on Saturday- but it didn’t break. The Hawks only gave up 17 points, and despite being picked apart by Brock Purdy and the Cyclone receiving core for much of the night, they forced field goals, turnovers, and punts when they needed them most.

In fact, one of ISU’s two touchdowns came on a crazy trick play during the Cyclones’ first possession of the afternoon (this was supposed to be a day game, remember?). The other came on a wide open deep ball against a discombobulated defensive look.

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Every other time it felt like Campbell’s offense was driving with efficiency, the group found a way to slow them down. Anytime a Big 12 offense is held below 20 points, the defense is doing something right.

And as the Hawkeyes look to the future, they can’t forget that Brady Reiff, Matt Hankins, Julius Brents, Riley Moss, and Kaevon Merriweather were all missing from today’s lineup. That’s a huge chunk of Phil Parker’s defense… and it’s coming back.

Rain Delays

The first was 49 minutes. The next was over two hours. It’s hard to say who benefited more from the stoppages of play. Did they interrupt Iowa State’s momentum? Did they stop the Hawkeye offense from getting into a rhythm?

Possibly both, but any event that results in players eating sandwiches and taking naps in the locker room, the student section using midfield as a slip and slide, and pushing Nebraska onto the Fox Business channel will certainly be remembered when fans look back at one of the CyHawk series’ strangest installments.

Clock Management 

Iowa’s clock management was atrocious on Saturday. First, the Hawks let the first half clock melt down to well under a minute before using any of their three time outs. They got a field goal out of the drive, but gave up a chance for the touchdown.

Then, when Iowa needed just one first down to end the game on a knee, they ran a short outside pass route that lead to a tackle out of bounds. Were it not for the fortunate muffed fumble, Iowa State would have had over a minute and a half to get into field goal range.

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When clock management is an issue multiple times in multiple games, it’s a trend. Hopefully Ferentz can find a gopher boy to point him towards the scoreboard before the Michigan game.

Great Game

In spite of its four hour first half, the 2019 CyHawk game lived up to the lofty expectations. Perhaps not mentioned enough in this run down is how well the Cyclones played on both sides of the ball.

Campbell’s team showed up, and though self inflicted wounds cost them the game at the end, they displayed a defense that kept Iowa’s talented receiving core in check and an offense that held AJ Epenesa at bay while frequently tearing into the secondary.

While both teams have areas that need improvement, there’s no doubt they represented each other’s highest levels of competition to date, and made each other better as we near the conference slate.

And though Cyclone fans undoubtedly wish it ended on a different note, they can take solace in the fact that the country was exposed to the high level of football being played right now in the Hawkeye State.

Extra Points

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  • Iowa picks up its fifth straight victory over ISU

  • That’s their longest streak in the series since Hayden Fry’s teams won 15 in a row

  • Kirk Ferentz is now 12-9 vs ISU and has won four straight in Ames

  • The rain delays lasted a combined two hours and 55 minutes

  • Managers were sent to get the team sandwiches during the delays, and were escorted by state troopers

  • Tyler Cook and Robert Gallery were in attendance on Saturday

  • There have been five 18-17 score games in the last 20 seasons of college football. Iowa won two of them.

  • Saturday was the first time in 67 meetings that the CyHawk game has been decided by one point

  • The College GameDay crew was split on Saturday morning, as Herbstreit and guest picker Eric Church went with Iowa, while Howard picked Iowa State and Corso donned Cy’s head

  • Keith Duncan is now eight of eight on field goals, including four from 40 yards or more

  • Michael Sleep-Dalton is averaging 46.4 yards per punt on 12 punts

  • Iowa enters a Bye week before taking on Middle Tennessee in Week 5

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