Schwartz: A Loss To Remember – And Learn From

October 10, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

The old cliché that teams need to have short memories after a loss doesn’t feel like it applies this week.

What happened to the Iowa offense during last weekend’s 10-3 loss at Michigan felt extraordinary because of everything that stood out. It wasn’t just a loss. It was a potentially deeper statement about a team – or rather, an offense – that structurally, from top to bottom, might not have what it takes to make it successfully through a season.

The offensive coordinator didn’t know what to do. The quarterback didn’t know what to do. The offensive line, with some lingering injuries, to be fair, didn’t know what to do.

This Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium the No. 17 Hawkeyes (4-1) host 5-0 and No. 10 Penn State, a powerful defensive squad not that different from Michigan. Maybe the Hawkeyes win, which would be great, but what’s unclear is how much a win allows us forget what happened in Ann Arbor.

There’s this common narrative that Iowa will need to get up off the mat and brush themselves off and blah blah blah and prepare for Penn State. OK, sure. But even if the Hawkeyes win, we can’t – we shouldn’t – forget what happened at Michigan.

Because what happened at Michigan wasn’t a fluke, it was full on systems failure, and if it can happen once, it can happen again.

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Why did the Hawkeye offensive players and coaching staff go full-blown Error 404? We don’t know yet.

What we do know is the Hawkeyes are 4-0 against teams that are a combined 8-12, yet 0-1 against the one legitimately good team they’ve faced. Now they’re ready to line up against another one – Penn State – which might have the best front seven in the Big Ten, although their defensive backs, while talented, are not quite on Michigan’s level.

Let’s be careful not to move on too quickly, even if the Hawkeyes win Saturday. Because we now know the offense has the potential to be – let’s be honest – categorically inept.

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The other thing to consider is how we’ll react if Penn State comes in and pushes Iowa around. What would a 17-3 loss mean for the 2019 Hawkeyes? 24-0? 35-10? Sadly, after last week, we know such a result is on the table.

Yes, this is a negative outlook, but that doesn’t make it an unrealistic one. You saw what happened out there last weekend, didn’t you? We all watched the same game, right?

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It’s OK to be optimistic, but let’s also be real. Many of us – myself included – recognized the gravity of the Michigan game going in. No one foresaw what actual events transpired.

So, yes, the Hawkeyes have a 50/50 shot of beating Penn State. It would be a huge boost to their season and could start to repair our perception of them. But we also now know that there’s a lot we don’t know about the 2019 Hawkeyes, and that might be the most unsettling thing of all.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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