Major Fail on Senior Day – Iowa Falls to Purdue 24-15
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By John Patchett (email@example.com) 11/18/17
This game had it all – if you like negatives, that is – which is the exact opposite of what Iowa’s 18 seniors expected and hoped for on their last game in Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes looked up-prepared, were out-coached, were out-played, too many dropped passes, and crucial penalties. It was largely an Offensive Fail for the second consecutive week. The Defense had crucial third quarter break-downs in the secondary. And Special Teams – other than Kicker Miguel Recinos – was borderline awful. Then there were the head-scratching coaching decisions. Let’s go into detail…
The arrow for Iowa’s Offense under new OC Brian Ferentz is decidedly pointing downward when – at this point in the season – should be going up. The Hawkeyes did finish with 258 yards of offense but only had 82 rush yards. Iowa is now 0-11 since the start of the 2015 season when rushing for less than 100 yards.
QB Nate Stanley was at risk almost the entire game under another relentless blitz – he ended up being sacked six times for 44 yards. In spite of those sacks, the bright spot was in the passing game: Stanley finished 16-33-1 with one TD and he completed passes to seven different receivers. There were too many three-and-outs. The turnover bug was back as Iowa fumbled once and was picked once – Purdue had none. Senior RB Akrum Wadley closed out his Kinnick career with 78 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. Iowa’s only other TD was a six yard catch by TE Noah Fant near the end of the game. Iowa seemed unable to solve Purdue’s blitzing and Center James Daniels had his third early snap in two weeks.
Iowa’s Defense which has generally been stingy in most of this season’s games surrendered 294 yards to Purdue’s Offense – just 65 on the ground but a whopping 229 via the pass. The Hawkeyes Defensive Secondary was burned time and again in the third quarter when Purdue put up two quick scores with the wind at its back. CB Manny Rugamba was the victim on most of those pass completions after the Boilermakers decided during Halftime that throwing in CB Josh Jackson’s direction was not a good idea.
The play of Iowa’s three senior linebackers was generally solid again, led by Josey Jewell who led the team with 13 tackles including two sacks and 3 tackles-for-loss. Iowa was able to put some pressure on PU QB Elijah Sindelar and sacked him four times for 24 yards. But Sindelar was able to hit pinpoint passes when he needed to in the second half and he finished 22-37-0 for 229 yards and three TDs. Iowa also scored a safety early in the second quarter, following a Nate Stanley punt that was downed on the three yard line.
While PK Miguel Recinos was effective on his kickoffs – even into a stiff wind – that was about the only bright spot on Special Teams – other than a 53 yard kickoff return by Ivory Kelly-Martin late in the fourth quarter to set up Iowa’s last score. Punting was borderline abysmal as Colten Rastetter once again handled all of those duties but was completely ineffective both into and with the wind – he averaged just 29.7 yards per punt (and that was with a long of 42 yards). It is hard to understand why Head Coach Kirk Ferentz decided to burn the red shirt on True Freshman Ryan Gersonde and then not use him. Then there was Senior Matt VandeBerg’s punt receiving – not good two weeks in a row now – questionable judgement and a muffed/fumbled punt that resulted in Purdue’s final three points and pretty much snuffed out Iowa’s hopes.
Now let’s turn to the coaching. First, there was Nate Stanley in post-game saying Iowa wasn’t prepared at the start of the game. Then there was the inability to figure out how to protect Stanley and stop Purdue’s blitzing. You have three O-Line gurus in Kirk and Brian Ferentz plus Tim Polasek. This is the second consecutive week where this was a major problem. You’d think someone would have a solution.
Then there was Kirk’s decision, after winning the coin toss, to start on Offense in the first half – into a +/- 25 mph Northwesterly wind. The same Offense that couldn’t put a single point on the board against Wisconsin and was facing off against the fourth-best Scoring Defense in the Big Ten. Iowa generated nothing in the first quarter: 42 yards and just 5:03 possession time. The alternative, of course, was putting the stingy Hawkeyes Defense out on the field to start and forcing Purdue to play into that wind, which was a factor throughout the day. But that decision paled compared to Ferentz opting to take the wind in the fourth quarter rather than start the second half with the wind as would more often happen. That decision blew up in his face when the wind-aided Boilers scored two quick TDs, torching Iowa’s D-Secondary in the process and giving the Boilermakers what ended up being an insurmountable 21-9 lead heading into the final period.
That was nothing compared to the decision by Ferentz to go for two points, following Iowa’s last score with 1:04 left in the game and Iowa trailing 24-15. The conversion attempt failed and left Iowa with no chance. Take the PAT there, recover an onside kick, and still leave yourself a chance to score and TD and then go for two to send the game to overtime. Some would say that was flat-out Football Dumb.
All-in-all, a pretty ugly game and result – not just for the 18 seniors but the entire team and the 60,554 in attendance (many who left with time to spare).
Iowa drops to 6-5, 3-5 while Purdue improves to 5-6, 3-5 and keeps its bowl hopes alive. The Hawkeyes travel to Lincoln for the Black Friday Game against the hapless Nebraska Cornhuskers, who lost today at Penn State 56-44. The Battle for the Heroes Trophy is shaping up to be Iowa’s inept Offense vs. Nebraska’s hapless Defense. The Boilermakers return to West Lafayette for the in-state showdown with Indiana.
Iowa vs. Purdue Postgame Notes
(From Iowa Athletic Communications)
Iowa (6-5, 3-5) fell to Purdue (5-6, 3-5) 24-15 Saturday at Kinnick Stadium
LB Josey Jewell had 13 tackles today, marking his 21st career game with double-digit tackles. Jewell has 418 career tackles, passing Chad Greenway (416) today for fifth all-time in program history.
Senior WR Matt VandeBerg has a reception in 30 consecutive games played. He has 131 career receptions, 10th most in program history. He has 1,652 career receiving yards, 16th in program history.
- He is 33 yards from passing Bill Happel in career receiving yards, and four receptions from tying Ed Hinkel in receptions.
RB Akrum Wadley is one of 15 players in program history to rush for 2,000 career yards. He has 495 career carries for 2,625 rushing yards, sixth all-time. He surpassed Owen Gill, Tony Stewart, and Mark Weisman on Iowa’s all-time career rushing yards list. He now ranks sixth all-time.
- Wadley has 24 career rushing touchdowns, tying for fourth all-time, 31 career touchdowns, sixth all-time, and 186 career points, 12th all-time.
- Wadley has 3,443 career all-purpose yards, ninth most in program history (2,625 rush, 718 receiving, 100 KO returns).
Second-year tight ends Noah Fant (So.) and T.J. Hockenson (redshirt freshman) have combined for 48 receptions this season. Among those 48 receptions, all but seven have resulted in a touchdown (11) or first down (30).
- Fant has 25 receptions, including a team-high eight touchdowns. The eight touchdowns are a single-season record for an Iowa tight end. He has 14 more catches that resulted in a first down. Fant’s eight touchdowns are the most by a Hawkeye since Marvin McNutt caught 12 touchdown passes in 2012.
Senior members of the Iowa football program were honored before Saturday’s game and include DL Nathan Bazata, OL Ike Boettger, LB Bo Bower, RB James Butler, DL Daniel Gaffey, DL Jake Hulett, LB Josey Jewell, LS Tyler Kluver, FB Drake Kulick, OL Boone Myers, LB Ben Niemann, TE Peter Pekar, SS Miles Taylor, WR Matt VandeBerg, RB Akrum Wadley, LB Kevin Ward, OL Sean Welsh, and TE Jon Wisnieski.
Nathan Bazata recorded his third sack of the season in the second quarter for a safety. The last time Iowa registered a safety was Jaleel Johnson vs. Michigan on Nov. 12, 2016.
- This was the third straight game the Hawkeye defense scored Iowa’s first points of the game.
Iowa won the toss and elected to receive. The Hawkeyes have played 238 games under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa has opened the game on offense 182 times (110-73). The Hawkeyes have opened the game on defense 56 times (31-25).
Instant replay was used two times today:
- Purdue runner got a first down (call was confirmed)
- Stanley sacked and maintained possession of the football (call was confirmed)
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, Nov. 24 at Nebraska. Kickoff is set for 3p.m. (CT). The game will be televised on FS1.
Final Game Stats – Team and Individual – Below
Iowa-Purdue Post-Game Notes, Stats, Ferentz Presser, Play-by-Play, Season Stats are here.