Iowa run defense looks miserable in loss at Minnesota


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MINNEAPOLIS — Carl Davis, Louis Trinca-Pasat, and Quinton Alston stood in the bowels of TCF Bank Stadium on Nov. 8, trying to stomach a 51-14 beatdown they just took from Minnesota.

The senior leaders on Iowa’s defense looked sober, as though they had just been embarrassed for all 36:42 of their time on the field.

Because, well, that’s exactly what happened.

“It’s embarrassing,” Davis said. “… To have the scoreboard look like that — close to 300 yards rushing — it’s very unacceptable.”

No one knew why Iowa came out so flat and allowed the Gophers to rush for 291 yards. They said the team had a good week of practice. Davis felt there was enough energy before the game.

That didn’t carry over.

Minnesota running back KJ Maye ran jet sweeps on the Hawkeyes all day and made the Iowa outside linebackers and safeties playing the alley look silly, rushing 10 times for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Star running back David Cobb and quarterback Mitch Leidner lit up the Hawkeyes on zone reads, carrying the ball a combined 27 times for 152 yards and a touchdown.

It wasn’t that Leidner is a burner, either. He was similar to Maryland’s C.J. Brown, who rushed 21 times against Iowa for a net of 99 yards on Oct. 18.

“We just weren’t communicating as well as we should have,” Alston said. “Sometimes we only had one person on the field talking, and we can’t do that.

“We have to have everybody talking, all 11 guys. It’s a lot of information going around especially with this team with shifts and treys and motions we have to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Iowa clearly wasn’t. It partially could be a matter of communication, but it also could be the inexperience of the linebackers.

Take Bo Bower for example. On Maye’s touchdown run, the redshirt freshman saw a Minnesota blocker coming at him as the play was run to the Gopher sideline. What Bower should have done was aggressively take on the blocker, but he attacked softly and Maye scampered 9 yards into the end zone.

Give the Gophers credit — they executed the play very well, but had Bower taken on the blocker aggressively and forced him inside, he would have had more defenders to tackle the runner. The play can be chalked up to a bit of inexperience and a bit of unwillingness to sacrifice his body.

Both of those reasons can be expanded to the whole team. Iowa has clearly faced this type of offense before and failed to make any sort of successful adjustment against their northern neighbors.

Even more, strong safety John Lowdermilk, who also had his troubles in run support, called the defense’s performance “soft.”

It absolutely was, and Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz quickly let members of the media know following the loss. He said Iowa wasn’t the aggressor but rather “the acceptor.”

“Basically, they just shoved it down our throats,” Ferentz said. “I’m not sure we quit, but they just shoved it down our throats, and we couldn’t do anything about it, and that’s not a good feeling.”

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