For those fans who thought that last week was a one time thing, check again. Iowa stuck to its roots and ran the ball with running back Marcus Coker, and also installed an up tempo, no huddle package led by James Vandenberg.
Right out of the gates on Saturday Ken O’Keefe dialed up a no huddle package. Iowa ran 9 plays in 3:21 and went up 7-0 on Vandenberg’s 1 yard sneak. He completed all 4 of passes on the drive, which saw 5 carries Coker. Iowa’s no huddle was instrumental in their 21 point comeback win last weekend vs. Pittsburgh, but many thought Iowa would go back to their pro style/run the ball philosophy. Not quite.
O’Keefe left Vandenberg loose again Saturday. The junior quarterback completed 21 of 32 passes for 270 yards and 3 TDs. He spread those 21 completions around to 7 different receiver, led by Marvin McNutt with 7. It was Vandenberg’s 3rd straight spectacular performance. In his last 3 games (vs. Iowa State, Pitt, and ULM), Vandenberg has completed 68 of 108 passes, for 876 yards, 8 touchdowns, and just 1 interception. There should be no doubt that Vandenberg is the focal point of 2011 Hawkeye offense.
Iowa wouldn’t shy away from the run, however. Marcus Coker got 18 carries in Saturday’s contest. He used those carries to accumulate 113 yards and 2 touchdowns. Saturday looked, by far, to be Coker’s best performance of 2011. The sophomore out of Maryland ran hard, breaking tackles, and using his speed to hit the corner.
Iowa heads into their bye week with a 3-1 record, disappointing to many fans. Many thought they would need the bye to figure out what direction to head in for the offense. Doesn’t seem that way anymore. I expect to continue to see Iowa use an up tempo style now that they know what they have in Vandenberg. 15-20 carries is what I would expect from Coker going forward, that is until Kirk Ferentz decides to sit on the ball in the 4th quarter.
Big Ten play opens up in 2 weeks when Iowa travels to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions.