Kirk Ferentz finally let James Vandenberg toss the old pig skin, all be it in the midst of a 21 point come from behind victory vs. the Pittsburgh Panthers. Iowa threw the ball 48 times in the biggest comeback victory in school histroy. After an inconsistent run game from Marcus Coker, and a poor performance from the whole team through the first 42 minutes, Vandenberg and company found its groove.
Iowa never had anything going on offense through the first 3 and a half quarters. Vandenberg was inaccurate, the offensive line didn’t block, and Marcus Coker didn’t have a great day. It was clear, early on, who the focus was of the offense. Coker ran the ball 23 times but for only 86 yards. Damon Bullock got 1 carry which he took to the 1 yard line (although replays show he scored) and James White didn’t touch the ball. Iowa lost freshman running back Mika’il McCall in the 1st quarter of the season, so now it seems like Coker will receive 90% of the carries.
That’s when Vandenberg went loose. Trailing 24-3 with 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Iowa had no choice but to put some air under the ball. The Iowa offense needed just 5 plays, and drove 60 yards, to tie the know on a Vandenberg sneak from the 1 yard line. That set up what would be one crazy 4th quarter.
After Pittsburgh made it a 3 score game with a Kevin Harper field goal with 12:09 remaining, Vandenberg put on one of the most memorable performances in one quarter that I can remember. You can call it “Ricky Stanzi-esque.” The junior quarterback completed 14 of 17 for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns. Reports have come out saying many of the plays were called by Vandenberg, considering Iowa was primarily running a no huddle offense since midway through the 3rd quarter.
Vandenberg’s performance was shocking to say the least. It made many wonder why Ferentz and co. didn’t let the kid take a shot to win the game last week. His performance on Saturday should be a precursor to how Iowa should run their offense. The strengths lie at offensive line and wide receiver. Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis both eclipsed the 100 yard mark and Kevonte Martin-Manley caught the final 2 Iowa touchdowns. With a tuneup game vs. Louisiana-Monroe next week before the ball, I expect (and hope) that we continue to see Vandenberg sling the ball all over the field. Because on Saturday, it worked.