The Box Score: Inside Hawkeye football statistics, Week 11


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The Box Score is a weekly segment in which a Daily Iowan football reporter uses statistics to contextualize Iowa football’s performance over the course of the season.

It has been five years since Iowa last had a record below .500. It has been five years since the Hawkeyes failed to qualify for a bowl game. This year’s Iowa football team has reached the first mark, and it is in serious danger of matching the second.

Things have not been this bad in Kinnick since 2007. Here’s a look at how this year’s team compares with that one.

Starting quarterbacks rating: Jake Christensen, 2007 — 116.9; James Vandenberg — 107.3

Jake Christensen was Iowa’s quarterback in 2007. His career ended the next year with a benching and a transfer.

James Vandenberg’s statistics this year have been as bad as Christensen’s, if not worse. Christensen finished 2007 with a passer rating of 116.9. Vandenberg is sitting at 107.3. He would need to throw 13 touchdown passes without an interception the rest of the way in order to match Christensen’s touchdown-to-interception ratio.

A third-down comparison is especially revealing. Christensen had a third-down passer rating of 113.6, which is bad. Vandenberg’s is 91.2 — a drop from 117 on first downs and 116 on second.

And while this year’s Hawkeyes are completing more passes and throwing for slightly more yards per game than the ’07 team did, they’re gaining fewer yards per attempt through the air. This speaks to the fact that the team is attempting a number of short passes. Just 26 of Vandenberg’s 86 third-down pass attempts have moved the chains for Iowa.

Rushing yards per game allowed: 2007 — 122; 2012 — 148

The Hawkeyes have been run all over lately. They have allowed 631 yards during their three-game losing streak. They gave up 564 of those just to Penn State and Northwestern, before Indiana decided it could just throw the ball.

The 2012 Hawkeyes are allowing more than 148 rushing yards per game, which is 26 more than the 2007 defense. That team’s defensive line had Bryan Mattison and Mitch King, who combined for 13.5 sacks. It had a pair of freshman, Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard, who later emerged as stars.

The 2012 unit has been less effective, both in run stopping and pass pressure. Iowa has recorded just 10 quarterback hurries and 10 sacks this season. In 2007, the Hawkeyes had 14 hurries and 27 sacks. Iowa’s lack of pressure this season has allowed several quarterbacks to calmly pick the defense apart.

Yards per kick return: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, 2007 — 23.7; Jordon Cotton, 2012 — 28.0

Special teams are one area where the Hawkeyes are better now than they were five seasons ago. Jordan Cotton has provided Iowa a boost in the kick-return game, averaging 28 yards per return and taking one for a 92-yard touchdown.

Iowa’s return man in ’07, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos averaged fewer than 24 yards per game and never broke one for a score.

Field goals made: 2007 — 10/16; 2012 — 15/18

This year’s Hawkeyes have also gotten much more consistent placekicking. Mike Meyer has made 15-of-18 attempts, and all 19 of his extra points, this season. He was named a Lou Groza award semifinalist this week.

In 2007, Iowa switched back and forth between Daniel Murray and Austin Signor, who combined to make 10-of-16 kicks. They each missed a pair of extra points.

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