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The Box Score: Inside Hawkeye Football Statistics

BY RYAN PROBASCO | OCTOBER 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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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.

The Hawkeyes (4-1) are flying high at the moment, riding a four-game winning streak into their much-anticipated Homecoming bout against the Spartans of Michigan State. Optimism about Iowa still remains suspect, but the numbers show the squad may be a much more competent unit than it was originally thought to be.

Third-Down Conversions — 52.5 percent (13th in NCAA, 2nd in Big Ten)

The Iowa offense has done a fantastic job of converting in these situations. Quarterback Jake Rudock’s ability to escape the pocket and gain yards when plays aren’t developing has inflated Iowa’s rate of success from a year ago, when it only converted 36.3 percent of its third-down opportunities.

Sustaining the current conversion rate will be difficult for the Hawkeyes considering the remaining schedule, but having a previous track record of success on third down should help the squad’s confidence in must-convert situations moving forward.

Rushing Defense — 2.91 yards per carry (12th in NCAA, 3rd in Big Ten)

Limiting opponents’ effectiveness on the ground has arguably been the strongest facet of Iowa’s game in 2013. In the Sept. 28 victory against Minnesota, the Hawkeyes held the Gophers’ potent running attack — one that had averaged more than 230 yards per game — to 30 yards on the ground.

The Hawkeye defense has been on quite a roll lately, having only given up 10 points total in its previous two games. After cornerback B.J. Lowery was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last week, Hawkeye James Morris was awarded the same honor for his performance against the Gophers. Defensive coordinator Phil Parker was also named Big Ten Coordinator of the Week following the win against Minnesota.

Opponents’ QB Rating — 103.31 (16th in NCAA, 3rd in Big Ten)

This number shows a marked improvement in the Hawkeyes’ pass defense from a season ago. Last year, Iowa ranked 75th nationally and 10th in the conference in this category, allowing opposing quarterbacks to combine for a rating of 135.4.

Having 8 interceptions through five games certainly helps Iowa’s cause in this statistic. But the uncertain return of cornerback Jordan Lomax casts a shadow of doubt over Iowa’s ability to continue to hamper opponents’ passing attacks.

Freshman cornerback Desmond King has struggled filling in for Lomax. If Iowa expects its pass defense to continue its dominance against much tougher opponents in Big Ten play, Lomax’s hamstring injury must improve, and quickly.

Time of Possession — 35:50 per game (4th in NCAA, 1st in Big Ten)

It’s no secret Iowa has dominated the time of possession battle thus far in 2013. The team’s tendency to run the ball frequently with workhorse running back Mark Weisman only enhances the discrepancy between the amount of time Iowa has had the ball in comparison with its opponents.

Though it’s unlikely Iowa will be able to sustain such dominance in time of possession against Big Ten opponents, this statistic may serve as a reminder that the Hawkeyes are capable of stealing a game against a superior opponent.

If the Hawkeyes can dictate pace and limit opponents’ time with the ball, it will have a much better chance of competing with teams thought to be much more talented going into the matchup.


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