By Bria Davis
The first home game of the season against long time rivals the Iowa State Cyclones ends in defeat for the Iowa Hawkeyes with a score of 9-6. There is much to be said about the way the Hawkeyes played not only in this game,but in the season thus far.
This game seemed to many, a sure win. Being at Kinnick Stadium seemed to be a great advantage for the Hawkeyes. Their last season defeat to the Cyclones occurred at Jack Trice Stadium confirming the perpetuated idea that being at home works in the given teams favor. Today however, the Hawkeyes shut that theory down.
As fans flooded the stands in black and gold, moral was high. However, after the Cyclones scored a touchdown within first five minutes of the game, it was apparent they had come to win.
Later in the first quarter Iowa made it to the red zone only to end up with yet another field goal. Fans began to wonder if there would be a repeat of last week’s game against the Northern Illinois Huskies in which 12 of their 18 points were attributed to field goals.
If home field advantage weren’t enough, the Hawkeyes had a shining beacon of hope in running back Damon Bullock. Bullock was a prominent player in the Hawkeye’s victory on September 1 and many were prepared to see the same explosiveness on the field today. Bullock definitely made great strides for the team with 236 receiving yards alone. At the end of the day however, it was lack of offensive execution that was to blame for the upset says Bullock.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes did well and perhaps made up for the offense’s failed attempt at touchdowns.
This was a rather low scoring game, which says two things: the Hawkeyes just couldn’t make it all the way to the end zone, but also that their defense effectively stopped Iowa State from scoring more than they did.
Whether they could do so was definitely questionable, especially with ISU quarterback Steele Jantz riding a wave of success. Jantz’s effectiveness at QB is evident and from his past performances we see that he likes to both pass and carry the ball. Both Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens of the Hawkeye defensive line agreed that this was something they honed in on during practice.
Overall, Iowa state beat the Hawkeyes offensively in every way possible. Steele Jantz “out-quarterback-ed” James Vandenberg in this game. Jantz had better eyes and decision-making skills when it came to reading the field. The Cyclones also out-shone the Hawkeyes with more first downs and offensive yards. Running back James White and wide receiver Aaron Horne had a lot to do with that.
Another Cyclone player that sealed the Hawkeyes’ fate was Jake Knott with his interception late in the fourth quarter. Just as the Hawkeyes seemed to being making a turn for the better and began moving the ball down the field, Knott hopped in with an interception that shafted any hopes of making it to the end zone for Iowa. In last week’s game against NIU, the Hawkeyes pulled a similar move and waited until the last minute to bang out the winning points. However, this week the idea of that happening was short lived.
The Iowa Hawkeyes appear to be stuck in a rut in which, according to Bullock, they are “struggling with finishing.” Senior WR Keenan Davis agrees that the team is struggling and there is an overall sense of frustration that can be alleviated by better execution.
Many Hawkeye fans hope that these past games are not an indication of games to come, but despite fans’ dashed hopes, the players remain optimistic. “It’s one loss…we can move forward from here,” says defensive captain Micah Hyde, and that is a point well made. With a 1-1 record so far, there is still much left unseen from the Hawkeyes. There is a lot talent and potential for this team to grow and quarterback James Vandenberg agrees, “If I know the core of this team like I think I do, we’ll bounce back.”