Schwartz: Ten Sentences – A Win Is A Win Edition

October 20, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

On the morning before Saturday’s Iowa-Purdue game my cousin, a Purdue grad, and I engaged in a text argument over which was worse: the Boilermakers’ defense or the Hawkeyes’ offense. It looks like he won the argument, because Iowa won the game. Ten sentences:

1. It’s hard to know which way to go on this one – positive or negative – but life isn’t black and white, it’s lived and experienced in the margins, and so that is where we will re-live Iowa’s 26-20 victory.

2. The most positive positive is that Iowa’s two-game losing streak, which felt like 20 games and three years, is over and, no doubt much to Gary Barta’s pleasure, the Hawkeyes are 5-2 and one win from bowl eligibility.

3. Mekhi Sargent averaged more than 5 yards a rush, and while there is still much, much room for improvement, maybe this will turn out to be one of those seasons when the offensive line comes together a little later than anyone might have hoped (I’m trying to be optimistic).

4. Defensive back Matt Hankins totaled 11 tackles, and this after having seven last weekend against Penn State; just a junior, Hankins is emerging as a reliable starter who can go up a level as he continues to improve in pass coverage.

5. Keith Duncan continues to make his case to be on Iowa’s eventual MVP ballot, along with any number of players from the defense, after making another four field goals Saturday.

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6. Also a positive: Penn State scored 28 in its win Saturday night over Michigan, marking the fifth time in seven games this season the Nittany Lions have scored at least that many in a game – and this just a week after the Hawkeyes held them to 19, which further confirms the data that while Iowa’s offense might be poor (more on that later), the Hawkeyes have a Top 15 defense.

7. But of course with Northwestern up next for the Hawkeyes in Evanston, an away site that haunts Iowa, Saturday’s win also left us with plenty to worry about.

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8. Of the top 50 quarterbacks in college football in terms of passing yards, which includes Iowa’s Nate Stanley, only five have thrown less touchdown passes than Stanley’s nine; he went without a touchdown pass Saturday for the second time in three games, and the one touchdown pass he threw – last week against Penn State – was memorable only for Brandon Smith’s acrobatic adjustment.

9. Stanley threw for 260 yards against Purdue, which has given up more deep balls in the Big Ten this season of any team this side of Rutgers, but he again struggled in the red zone, with one big reason no doubt the absence of an experienced tight end (Nate Wieting and Shaun Beyer have combined for just 10 catches through seven games), which is to be expected with Noah Fant’s and TJ Hockenson’s (88 combined tight end catches last season) departures for the NFL.

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10. And let’s not even get into Iowa’s fourth-quarter clock management on Saturday, or more specifically, Iowa’s clock management this season, which has been about as bad as it’s ever been under Kirk Ferentz.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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