Iowa Hawkeyes fans may still be recovering from a devastating loss and a long weekend. This was not the way coach Kirk Ferentz envisioned kicking off the 2013 campaign. How will the longest tenured coach in the Big 10 find some positives out of such a disappointing loss?
First of all, the Hawkeyes played an opponent that may not have gotten enough credit from the uninformed college football fan. Northern Illinois was an outstanding team last year and come season’s end, this will be a team with a very impressive record. This was not a blowout, one-sided loss. In fact, the game was the Hawkeyes’ to win in the final moments.
Just think a couple of plays or a couple of points the other way, and Nebraska would be the one-loss team and Iowa would have snuck out of their season opener with a victory.
Quarterback play for the Hawkeyes was better than one may have feared for Jake Rudock’s debut. The sophomore quarterback managed the game very efficiently for his team and showed that the Hawkeyes have a quarterback who is capable of scoring with his arm and his legs.
This is a young offense that is still learning to play with one another, and they still managed to put up 458 total yards on Saturday. The Hawks threw for 256 yards and rushed for 202 — both were improvements on season averages from a year ago. The Hawks also had a 100-yard rusher in the form of their fullback Mark Weisman, who averaged five yards per carry.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes’ secondary showed some holes that allowed Husky quarterback Jordan Lynch to connect with his receivers. On the bright side, the Hawkeyes were able to keep the mobile quarterback in check as he managed only 56 yards on 22 attempts.
For the defense, the pass rush will need to improve to help out their secondary. The Hawkeyes were unable to record a sack in their season opener. The pass rush will certainly be addressed by the Hawkeyes coaching staff this week. Hopefully, the defensive line will get in their groove against Missouri State because all Iowans know what is coming up after that game on September 14: the Hawkeyes will undeniably be amped up as they travel to Ames to compete for the CyHawk Trophy against Iowa State.