By Don Lund
It was bad enough that Hawkeye fans and players had to deal with high temperatures around 90 degrees and hot sun beating down on Kinnick Stadium, but to lose on a last-second field goal… again?
It was reported that the temperature on the field was 160 degrees!
The last game Iowa played was in November against Nebraska and the wind chill was zero at Kinnick.
It’s not like the Northern Illinois Huskies were a loaf of bread. They only lost one game during the season last fall and that was to the Hawkeyes.
Their quarterback, Jordan Lynch, is the only player ever to pass for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,500 yards in FCS history.
When I first came to Iowa in the fall of 1974 and was a student manager for the football team, the Hawks had lost all 11 games in 1973.
Iowa lost their first game in 1974 at Michigan, 24-7, and I was on the sidelines. The following week the Hawks knocked off UCLA in Kinnick Stadium, 21-10, and the 12-game losing streak, the longest at the time, was broken.
When Kirk Ferentz was in his first two years as head man in 1999-2000, Iowa lost 13 in a row and I had season tickets.
I was at the Michigan State 21-16 victory that snapped the streak.
So far, Iowa’s lost its last six games last year and the game last week, 30-27, but it doesn’t seem like seven straight because I took Kirk Ferentz’s advice and started over this year.
For the most part, I liked the effort.
I’ll start with the offense.
Jake Rudock looked pretty solid for making his first start and taking his first snaps ever. Jake finished 21-37 for 256 yards and one touchdown. He had two picks and obviously the last one was deadly. He looked really mobile on his quarterback scramble for a touchdown right before half.
Kevonte Martin-Manley had nine catches for 79 yards and was the go-to guy.
The offensive line gave up no sacks. Last year the Huskies had six sacks against Iowa.
How about Mark Weisman rushing for 100 yards with a 5.0 average and Damon Bullock having 76 with a 4.5 average. That’s going to pay off down the line.
My only complaint on offense was C.J. Fiedorowicz caught only two passes. One was kind of like a jump pass that turned into an 11-yard touchdown. He was the only tight end to catch a pass.
Also, Iowa has got to find a way to get the ball to Damond Powell.
Jake threw two passes to him and he beat the defense both times, catching one for 49 yards.
Damond has speed to burn.
They need to get him the ball out in the open so he can make some moves.
On defense, the linebackers led the way with Christian Kirksey leading the team with 14 tackles and a forced fumble which he returned for a touchdown. Anthony Hitchens had 13 stops and the defensive line held its own.
The Huskies averaged only 3.8 yards per carry and Jordan Lynch only 2.5 yards. Iowa plugged up the middle with Carl Davis and Dominic Alvis having some good moments.
I was a little disappointed with the defensive backs.
Jordan Lynch threw three touchdown passes and all three were wide open, so it was either blown coverages or a Hawkeye fell down.
After Iowa took a 24-17 halftime lead, I felt pretty good, but the third quarter was all Northern Illinois. They only scored three points but had the ball for 10:46 while Iowa had it for 4:14.
The special teams were led by Mike Meyers who had five touchbacks on six kickoffs and was 2-2 on field goals.
I was hoping when the game was tied with less than two minutes left and Iowa had the ball that Mike might have a chance to win the game… but then came the interception.
I wasn’t happy with punter Connor Kornbrath who had seven punts, including one for 13 yards. His average was only 36.7 yards. I gave him a pass last year because he was a freshman, but he’s got to improve.
The Huskies were successful on a fake punt which resulted in a score. That can’t happen but it did.
Jordan Cotton didn’t have a great afternoon returning kickoffs. He’s got to remember that if it’s a touchback, Iowa gets the ball on the 25. He took one deep in the end zone and only made it back to the 10.
Kevonte did a good job fielding punts for the first time.
Bottom line, it’s a tough loss, but Iowa’s three turnovers resulted in 9 points for Northern Illinois while the Huskies one turnover gave Iowa 7 points.
I didn’t even make it to the end because of the heat, so I can’t imagine how the players felt.
It has been said that teams improve the most between the first and second games.
Let’s hope that’s true because after Iowa plays Missouri State at home, they travel to Ames.
Oh yeah, the ‘Clones lost to UNI, 28-20.
That loss takes a little of the spotlight off of the Hawkeyes.