Iowa offense sparkles against Hoosiers


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Jim Foster, the founder of the Arena Football League, was born in Iowa City and graduated from the University of Iowa. If he had been in the stands for the Hawkeyes’ Homecoming game against Indiana on Oct. 11, he would have seen a first half that looked like his brainchild.

At halftime, the score was 38-21 for Iowa, an uncharacteristically good offensive showing — the Hawkeyes had failed to score more than 31 points over the course of an entire game heading into the Oct. 11 contest.

“Basketball or arena ball, I couldn’t make up my mind,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said.

In what turned out to be a 45-29 win, the Hawkeye offense totaled 426 yards, 219 of which came through the air.

Damond Powell caught a 72-yard touchdown from Jake Rudock. Jonathan Parker housed a 60-yard jet sweep. Each of those plays were the only one in their scoring drives and took a combined 20 seconds off the clock.

The offensive explosion isn’t totally new. The Hawkeye offense showed some life against Purdue before the bye week. In that game, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Powell, and Parker had catches for more than 20 yards. Jacob Hillyer added one more for 18.

Powell’s touchdown against Indiana is the Hawkeyes’ longest play from scrimmage this season and only one of six catches of 60 yards or more. Rudock placed the ball perfectly into the hands of Powell, who was running a post route toward Kinnick’s southeastern corner, using nothing but pure speed to create separation.

Of course, these explosive plays were a large aspect of the Iowa offense against an awful Indiana defense. The instances caused defenses to account for more players when they’re in the game and open up the shorter plays.

As a result, Mark Weisman rushed for a season-high 89 yards and the Hawkeyes eclipsed 200 yards on the ground for the first time this season. Rudock was able to complete slightly more than 70 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of over 200 at one point in the game. (That number was inflated after Powell’s catch; the quarterback finished with a 160.15 clip.)

“Big plays open up a lot more things,” Martin-Manley said. “When you’re able to open it up to stretch the field like that, it helps those running backs, it just helps everybody when you’re making plays and executing.”

It’s something Rudock and his team will try to continue to do the rest of the season. It will be a necessity as Iowa heads into the meat of its Big Ten schedule.

“We obviously want to continue to do that,” Rudock said. “We had some big plays and did some big things.”

All of this isn’t to say Iowa is going to play basketball on turf from here on out. This isn’t a football team built to play in high-scoring contests on a weekly basis, and the coaches know that.

However, it certainly does help that a few Hawkeyes have proven themselves as big-play threats.

“I’m not fond of a scoring contest, that’s for sure,” Ferentz said. “But, boy, looked like it had the chance to be one.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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