Iowa football: Stock report following Week 5
Iowa is moving forward from Week 5, escaping from the weekend with a win over Michigan State. That outcome was in doubt until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Hawkeyes came up with the clutch plays to get the win.
Now, Kirk Ferentz’s program moves forward with a 4-1 record and is 1-1 in B1G play. The goals of winning the B1G West and the conference title remain in front of the Hawkeyes, but there are a number of question marks moving forward.
Without further ado, here is the stock report for the program coming out of Week 5.
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Player of the Week: Cooper DeJean
Iowa fans likely need no reminder, but DeJean provided a performance to let everyone know he is still the best player on the Hawkeye roster. He did not have an interception in the first 4 games of the season, but he fixed that in the first half.
The pick came on a poor throw by MSU’s Noah Kim, but DeJean still showcased his skill on the play. He looked like a wide receiver with his read on the ball and ability to toe-tap in the back of the end zone.
A red zone INT for @HawkeyeFootball!
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) October 1, 2023
However, the true highlight of the night came when DeJean gave Iowa a lead late in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 16-all, DeJean housed a 70-yard punt return in dramatic fashion for his first touchdown of the season.
It gave Iowa a 23-16 lead the Hawkeyes would not relinquish:
COOPER DEJEAN JUST DID THAT😳
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 1, 2023
As a defensive back and returner, DeJean must rely on teams testing him in order for his skill set to flash. Michigan State did that in Week 5, and the Spartans paid the price.
Newcomer of the Week: QB Deacon Hill
After transferring into the program from Wisconsin, Hill was competing with Joey Labas for the backup QB spot. An injury to Labas opened up the depth chart, and another injury to starter Cade McNamara thrust Hill into the spotlight against the Spartans.
Hill struggled with his efficiency at times but finished the game 11-for-27 through the air for 115 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He notably led an 80-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter that was capped with a touchdown pass to Erick All for Hill’s first career score.
There are a number of things that need to be cleaned up from Hill’s performance, but there were also some positives for his first extended look at Power 5 playing time.
Biggest surprise: 4th-quarter comeback
For a team entering a road environment with a lot of off-the-field distractions, Michigan State showed up ready to give a total effort in Kinnick Stadium. That is not easy to do, particularly with the effort Iowa’s defense delivered.
The Spartans were held to a 3-for-15 effort on 3rd-down conversions, committed 10 penalties for 94 yards and were forced into 4 turnovers (3 interceptions) by the Hawkeyes. Michigan State’s offense was also held out of the end zone. In most games, that type of ledger would result in a blowout.
Still, Iowa did not buckle under the pressure, rising to the occasion with 13 points scored in the final quarter of the game.
Biggest concern: Cade McNamara’s injury
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. After missing significant time toward the end of training camp, McNamara left in the first half of Saturday’s game with another non-contact injury.
The injury did not look good, and McNamara was eventually carted back to the locker room without putting any weight on his leg. Barring something drastic, it would appear McNamara will be sidelined for at least a few weeks, and that puts even more pressure on the offense.
Developing trend: Lack of RB production
Kaleb Johnson and Jaziun Patterson remained out once again in Week 5, but that doesn’t take away from the concern related to Iowa’s rushing production. The Hawkeyes finished with just 61 yards and 2.3 yards per carry while relying on Leshon Williams and Kamari Moulton in the backfield.
The longest run for the game was a 9-yard carry by Williams with Moulton producing a long of 7 yards. Williams also coughed up the ball on a costly scoop-and-score in the second half.
Hopefully, the backfield will return to full health as soon as possible, but someone needs to step up moving into the heart of B1G play.
Key stat: +2 turnover differential
Saturday’s game ultimately came down to the turnover battle with the Hawkeyes winning the differential. That allowed Iowa to make up for a costly fumble that Michigan State returned for a touchdown in the second half.
After DeJean’s game-breaking punt return touchdown, Iowa secured the final takeaway of the game with just over 2 minutes left in the game. It led to a field goal and a 10-point cushion as the Hawkeyes finished off the win.
First impressions about Week 5
Iowa moves forward to face Purdue and first-year head coach Ryan Walters. That Boilermaker squad has been up and down to start the season but is coming off a 44-19 win over Illinois.
The series between Iowa and Purdue has produced some dramatic games in recent history, and it will be interesting to see if the Boilermakers can put some pressure on the Hawkeyes. Purdue has allowed at least 35 points in all 3 losses this year but Deacon Hill and the Hawkeye offense will need to prove they can put up points int he matchup.