The Box Score: Inside Hawkeye Football Statistics
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 chances of Iowa (4-2) returning to postseason play took a hit Saturday when the team fell to Michigan State, 26-14. After the bye week, the Hawkeyes will visit No. 4 Ohio State on Oct. 19. The Hawkeyes’ six remaining opponents have a combined record of 23-8, a daunting number especially when Purdue’s 1-4 mark is taken into account.
Rushing Offense — 23 yards against Michigan State
The Hawkeyes weren’t able to establish any bit of success on the ground against the nation’s top-ranked rush defense. If only the running backs’ numbers were counted in this statistic, the final line for Iowa would have been 13 yards on 12 carries.
This number has a lot to do with the Hawkeyes, trailing for much of the second half and needing to pass the ball more. But it’s also particularly alarming that the Black and Gold ran for only 23 yards, given how much the offense relied on the run in the first half of the season.
Iowa is unlikely to see a tougher rushing defense the rest of the way, but it’s clear Mark Weisman needs to be healthy if the team is to be effective on the ground.
Three-And-Outs — 9 against Michigan State
This number signals a big issue, but it isn’t too hard to figure out why it occurred. Iowa is known as a “run first” team. So when it has essentially zero success running the ball on first down, the offense is forced into much more difficult second- and third-down situations.
Michigan State’s defense started the game by forcing five straight three-and-outs. And 11 of Iowa’s 15 drives lasted three plays or fewer. It’s no secret offensive coordinator Greg Davis has to make some serious adjustments moving forward.
Rushing Defense — 88.5 yards per game (8th in NCAA, 3rd in Big Ten)
The ability to stop the run was one of the few facets of Iowa’s game that saw some degree of success against the Spartans. If Mike Sadler’s 25-yard run on the fake punt is removed from the equation, Michigan State was just a tick above 3 yards per carry — a number defensive-coordinator Phil Parker will surely accept.
The Iowa rush defense’s next challenge will be stopping one of the nation’s most talented ball carriers — Ohio State tailback Carlos Hyde. The native of Naples, Fla., ran for 168 yards and three scores against Northwestern this past weekend.
Passing Offense —7.1 yards per attempt (T-66th in NCAA, 9th in Big Ten)
This number isn’t pretty to begin with, but if you dive deeper, it looks even worse. Averaging 7.1 yards per passing attempt means quarterback Jake Rudock has been throwing a lot of short to intermediate length passes.
Those passes should be completed at a fairly high percentage. The problem however, is they’re not. This has something to do with …
Completion Percentage — 59.9 percent (70th in NCAA, 9th in Big Ten)
To improve those numbers, Rudock will have to be more accurate with mid-range throws or be more reliant on his ability to escape the pocket and make plays himself.
Kevonte Martin-Manley’s absence in the second half and the no-show from the Iowa running game certainly didn’t help Rudock’s cause, but the first-year starter will have to embrace adversity in stride if he’s to lead his squad back into the postseason.
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