Iowa report card after Week 1 loss at Purdue
Iowa was edged by host Purdue 24-20 in its B1G opener on Saturday. Iowa took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Purdue scored the game’s final 10 points to secure the victory.
This is Iowa’s third loss in its past four games against Purdue. Iowa will attempt to bounce back in its home opener next Saturday against Northwestern (2:30 p.m. CST/ESPN).
Here’s the Week 1 report card for Iowa:
Iowa racked up 460 yards to outgain Purdue but it only translated to 20 points. Iowa scored 17 of its 20 points in the second quarter but the offense sputtered in the second half.
Iowa failed to convert five third downs in a row to end the game. Overall, Iowa lost 2 fumbles and was penalized four times for false starts. Iowa went just 4-for-13 on third downs.
The first Hawkeyes series of the game foreshadowed their struggles, as they committed a false start on third down and then had to punt. Iowa also had some questionable clock management at the end of the first half.
Iowa gained possession with 31 seconds left in the second quarter on an interception by cornerback Matt Hankins. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras connected with tight end Sam LaPorta for a 20-yard reception down to the Purdue 10-yard line. However, instead of spiking the ball or calling a timeout, Iowa elected to let the clock run. Running back Tyler Goodson’s run was stuffed for no gain and Iowa had to settle for a field goal.
“It’s discipline. Attention to detail. We kind of pride ourselves on being brilliant with the basics, and I don’t think we were that (Saturday),” Petras said, according to the Des Moines Register. “Self-inflicted wounds are never easy.”
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) October 24, 2020
In his debut as Iowa’s starting quarterback, Petras was a mixed bag. He completed 22 of 39 passes for 265 and a touchdown, plus he had a rushing touchdown. Petras completed passes to eight different receivers, led by LaPorta (5 receptions, 71 yards) and Nico Ragaini (4 receptions, 61 yards).
The running back duo of Tyler Goodson (77 yards) and Mekhi Sargent (71 yards, 1 touchdown) were solid, as they combined for 148 yards on the ground. Goodson added 5 receptions for 59 yards, including a 40-yard reception. Sargent finished off an 11-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown to give Iowa a 14-7 lead with 4:42 left in the second quarter.
However, Sargent fumbled at an inopportune time in the fourth quarter as Iowa was in Purdue’s territory.
It was an uneven performance for Petras, who admitted nerves got the best of him, as he began by completing only 2 of his 8 passes. Petras settled down to then complete 12 of his final 13 the rest of the first half. Petras flashed his vaunted arm strength with a strike across the middle to Ragaini late in the second quarter.
Petras capped off a 5-play, 35-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7 with 10:21 in the second quarter.
“I was definitely nervous at the beginning of the game, first game there,” Petras said, according to the The Gazette. “I think I just got into a rhythm, and we were able to run the ball effectively. That makes it easy. We get the ball to our playmakers, that makes my job easy. We’re getting good protection, that kind of thing. It helped me settle down, for sure.”
With Iowa down four and 2:08 remaining in the game, Petras found LaPorta for 16 yards along the sideline but four straight incompletions ultimately sealed the Hawkeyes’ defeat.
“I thought it was a real good start from him, we’ve got total confidence in him as well,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, according to the The Gazette. “The way he operates, I’m confident he’ll be a better player next week, and I’m confident we’ll have a better week next week, as long as we really look at this film objectively tomorrow and learn from the things that kept us from being victorious today.”
After holding Purdue to 14 points through three quarters, the Iowa defense broke down in the fourth quarter to allow two double-digit play drives which decided the game.
Purdue finished off a 14-play, 71-yard drive with a field goal to trim Iowa’s lead to three with 8:20 to go. Then Aidan O’Connell found David Bell for a 6-yard touchdown to give Purdue the lead for good with 2:15 remaining. A costly facemask penalty by Iowa defensive tackle Jack Heflin aided that drive.
Purdue standout wide receiver Rondale Moore was out but Bell was a problem all game long for the Iowa secondary, as he ended up with 13 receptions for 121 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Iowa defense allowed 386 total yards and tallied two interceptions (by Barrington Wade and Hankins). Iowa struggled to get pressure on O’Connell and had just two sacks, one by Wade.
Wade was a bright spot for the Iowa defense. The fifth-year senior had a nice open-field tackle on tight end Payne Durham to stymie Purdue’s opening drive.
Jack Koerner amassed a team-high 13 tackles.
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) October 24, 2020
Purdue running back Zander Horvath gashed the Iowa defense for 129 yards on 21 carries. The absence of middle linebacker Jack Campbell (mononucleosis) was certainly felt.
“We play better defense when we don’t let people run like that,” Ferentz said, according to Hawk Central.
A variety of factors contributed to the porous Iowa run defense.
“Whether it was defeating blocks, physicality, tackling … we’ve got to watch the tape, but I’m guessing that was all a factor,” Iowa linebacker Nick Niemann said, according to Hawk Central.
Special teams: B
Kicker Keith Duncan converted both of his field goal attempts and was 2-for-2 on extra points. Duncan’s first field goal was a 27-yard conversion as time expired in the first half. Duncan’s other field goal was a 33-yarder at the beginning of the fourth quarter to give Iowa a 20-14 lead. Punter Tory Taylor had a strong outing, with 265 total yards on six punts (44.2 average) and a long of 52.
Iowa used three different returners on kickoffs: Hankins (1 return for 28 yards), Charlie Jones (1 for 22), and Ihmir Smith-Marsette (1 for 15). Jones also served as Iowa’s punt returner and totaled 37 yards, with 25 yards coming on one return.
Iowa held Purdue to 33 yards on two kickoff returns.