Iowa football: 5 challenges Purdue presents to the Hawkeyes
Iowa has another road game this weekend, it’s fourth in five weeks. This trip to Purdue still has major Big Ten West ramifications, and there’s a lot on the line. Purdue is a 3-point favorite, which would have been considering something of surprise back in September.
The Boilermakers are legitimately good and are in the same boat as Iowa in this Big Ten West race, a game behind Northwestern. Both, obviously, cannot afford another loss.
Here are five challenges that should concern the Hawkeyes heading into Saturday’s game with Purdue:
1. David Blough was one red-hot quarterback …
Purdue won four games in a row before tripping at Michigan State last week, with the highlight being the huge upset of No. 2 Ohio State a week earlier. They had been on such a roll because David Blough was the hottest quarterback in America. In a five-game stretch that included a wild 40-37 loss to Missouri where Blough threw for 572 yards, he posted some crazy numbers: 1,951 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s going to provide Iowa’s secondary with its toughest test to date. And it’s not even close.
2. … But then Michigan State found a winning formula
Michigan State held Blough and Purdue to just 13 points last week, and they did it by getting him off his spot with good pressure and narrowing his passing lanes. In turn, he was more inaccurate than usual, something Iowa saw themselves last week at Penn State when the Nittany Lions made Nate Stanley so uncomfortable. It works, and Iowa’s defensive line needs to do the same thing this week against Purdue. Michigan State’s other formula was keeping the ball away from Purdue, and it worked, too. Michigan State had more than 38 minutes of possession, which is a ton.
3. Freshman Rondale Moore is really scary
Rondale Moore, a true freshman from New Albany, Ind., has been one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten this season. He’s capable of scoring from anywhere on the field, both as a running and as a pass catcher. He’s already had seven touchdowns of 40 yards or more this season, and has 802 receiving yards and 162 rushing yards through eight games. Iowa’s defense will have to keep him pinned in, and they need to tackle well or he’ll break another one.
4. Secondary vows to be more aggressive
What Iowa saw on film of Purdue’s secondary last week probably won’t be what they’ll see this week. They gave Michigan State huge cushions on the edges, but they’ve vowed to change that this week. Expect aggressiveness. “We need to be more sticky,” Purdue defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “A lot of that (cushion) is by design but 16 points with a minute left in the game, c’mon, that’s not too bad. Not too shabby. We’re not giving up the explosive play over their head, which is really good. On the same token, on a second-and-nine we were giving up a soft out and that’s a little frustrating.” This new look might take some adjusting, but look for some deep shots, too.
5. Purdue has the right guy in Jeff Brohm
Purdue football had become a huge mess before Jeff Brohm was hired prior to the 2017 season. The turnaround has been tremendous, considering the previous failures of Danny Hope (21-28) and Darrell Hazell (9-39) that led to midseason firings. Brohm has Purdue’s offense humming, and they are certainly more competitive. The three early losses were by a total of eight points. The next step is winning those close games.