Chauncey Golston Northwestern

We heard a lot about the “24-hour rule” during Tuesday’s media availability for the Iowa football team.

Given the urgency within the nine-game sprint-to-the-finish of the 2020 Big Ten-only schedule, a 24-minute rule seems more important.

 

There isn’t much time to correct whatever ails you, and even the best teams have something that ails them after the first game of the season.

 

Iowa had plenty of ailments in last Saturday’s 24-20 loss at Purdue — penalties, turnovers, problems in communication. The kinds of things you can iron out in a normal season before league play.

 

But there is nothing normal about this, and so you can’t hope for gradual improvement, because time is going to move quickly this season. One bad game isn’t a killer in the West Division standings, but two certainly can be.

 

You always want to improve from Week 1 to Week 2, since we’re quite deep into the football clichés. Now, it’s more crucial than ever, with Northwestern coming to Kinnick Stadium for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game.

 

“In a perfect world, we’d like to have that ability, and traditionally, yeah, we have gotten better,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Our good teams at least have gotten better as the year goes on. If we’re going to be successful, that’s paramount. We have to do that. There’s just not much wiggle room, as I alluded to earlier, right — it’s eight scheduled games plus one, so every game is really critical.

 

“Hopefully we’ll show improvement this week from last week. We need to.”

 

“With only eight-plus-one, every game is extremely important,” said quarterback Spencer Petras, who, in his first season as starter, is also going to have to have an accelerated improvement curve. “The sense of urgency has been there from the beginning. Any Big Ten game is an important game. Obviously with the way the standings work, and that kind of thing, we need to play our best on Saturday.”

 

“It’s all about getting better every single day,” offensive tackle Coy Cronk said. “Sometimes on Saturdays, the ball doesn’t go our way. One or two things that could have happened didn’t happen, or vice versa.

 

“But one thing we preach about here is getting better every day. What can I do today that I didn’t do yesterday? What’s one more thing I can improve on. What’s one more little technique I can use. And I think that mindset is going to be what helps us Week 8, Week 9, however many games we’re going to play this year.”

 

Ferentz said the return from Purdue was a “quiet” trip.

 

“Certainly every loss hurts, and every loss is significant, and especially when you’re playing a nine-game season,” Ferentz said. “They become that much more significant. That’ll never change.”

 

The margin for error was always going to be paper-thin anyway, and there’s always going to be clean-up after the first week.

 

But the Hawkeyes will have to be better, sooner rather than later.

 

An 0-2 record in September is ugly, but repairable. An 0-2 record as the calendar flips to November in this schedule can be catastrophic.

 

For the Hawkeyes, it means fewer penalties, certainly means fewer turnovers, and the communication must improve.

 

Week 1 is gone in Iowa’s mind, cast into the 2020 trash can.

 

Week 2 has to be better.

 

“The real key thing right now is how we respond, do we come back and play cleaner and give ourselves a chance to win, at least make Northwestern beat us,” Ferentz said. “We don’t want to help our opponent, give them an edge at all in the game.”