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Entire team and coaches deserve blame in Iowa loss

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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MINNEAPOLIS — Who should be blamed for Iowa's 22-21 loss to Minnesota?

It sounds trivial — maybe even superficial. But it's also an understandable and predictable question from fans after their team suffered an unforeseeable loss against a really bad opponent.

To answer the question concisely, almost everyone.

 

Even though coach Kirk Ferentz's postgame press conference primarily consisted of the usual company lines, he was right about at least one thing.

"Today they outplayed us in all three phases," he said. "… If you don't finish drives and get points, that a lot of times will come back and get you. Can't stop the run and slow people down at some point, that's going to get you. And if you don't capitalize on special teams …"

All of that happened, and it all cost the Hawkeyes. But Ferentz neglected to mention that he was out-coached, too.

There was Minnesota coach Jerry Kill's gutsy — and ultimately successful — onside kick call. There was Ferentz's decision to enter halftime in a 7-7 tie despite having possession of the ball with 1:13 and two time-outs left. And don't forget how the Hawkeyes didn't give Marcus Coker — who posted the third-highest single-game rushing total ever by an Iowa back — a single carry on the final drive, even though they had 2:48 and one time-out to work with.

Whatever it was, Iowa's 13th-year coach and his staff clearly didn't get the job done.

Still, I'm a firm believer that the fate of most games lies largely in the hands of the people who are actually on the field — you know, the players.

Aside from Coker and Marvin McNutt, who caught seven balls for 101 yards and a touchdown, few Hawkeyes played well.

Iowa failed to score on half of its red-zone possessions. Mike Meyer, who entered the game 12-of-14 on field goals this season, missed two kicks, one of which — a 24-yarder in the first quarter — was quite makeable.

The offensive line often buckled against aggressive Minnesota blitzes. One in the third quarter leveled James Vandenberg, who fumbled, and that led to a Gopher field goal.

The Hawkeye defense played probably its best three quarters of the season before the same old problems resurfaced. Iowa's D-line failed to contain MarQueis Gray to the pocket, ultimately resulting in Gray's game-winning touchdown run. Gopher running back Duane Bennett — previously averaging 3.4 yards per carry — ran for 5.1 yards a pop against a porous run defense. And the Iowa secondary again suffered coverage breakdowns, leading to plays such as Minnesota's 61-yard pass to Devin Crawford-Tufts.

Hell, even the only punt of the day from Eric Guthrie — Iowa's most consistent performer this season — traveled an underwhelming 19 yards.

Unlike last year's 27-24 debacle of a loss to the Gophers, this defeat was not a question of effort or energy.

The fact might be sobering and deflating for Hawkeye fans. But Minnesota simply outplayed and out-coached Iowa.

Follow DI Pregame Editor Jordan Garretson on Twitter.


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