The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Hawkeyes redeem themselves in a much needed victory against the Golden Gophers

As Floyd the pig returns to the Hawkeye’s trophy case, fans celebrate after an incredible game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

When asked whether or not the Hawkeyes could manage a W over the previously undefeated Golden Gophers, many were doubtful.

After a rocky start to their 2-2 season, Hawkeyes surly felt the need to redeem themselves following an unexpected and embarrassing loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas.

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Golden Gophers confidently defeated each of their 4 opponents, going into today’s game with a 4-0 record for the first time since 2008. Starting QB MarQueis Gray’s versatility and athleticism had been a strength for the team but after an ankle injury during their game against Western Michigan, the Golden Gophers would have to rely on sophomore Max Shortell.

This definitely was a game of firsts for both teams.

This was the first time the Hawkeye offense was able to successfully execute plays continuously and defeat their opponent with a notable lead. We saw a lot of contribution from players that previously had been rather dormant and for lack of a better word, ineffective. There seemed to be a level of cohesion both offensively and defensively from the Hawkeyes.

The defense started strong and maintained their intensity throughout the game.

Two defensive players who stood out were Greg Castillo and Christian Kirksey. Late in the second quarter Castillo intercepted a pass from Shortell, which would be a career first for him. With roughly 5 minutes remaining on the clock in the 4th quarter Kirksey too intercepted the ball, running for 68 yards straight into the end zone.

WR Jordan Cotton and QB James Vandenberg also got in on the fun. After a skillful demonstration of a flea flicker, Vandenberg threw for 47 yards to a wide-open Cotton for a touchdown, which was a career first for the junior.

Not to be forgotten is rising star and fan favorite Mark Weisman who continued to demonstrate his athleticism rushing 155 yards in the first half alone, more than doubling the Gophers’ combined.

Vandenberg credit’s some of Weisman’s success to his relatively short stature and large build, which allows him to maneuver through the holes. This is indeed a strength for Weisman who tends to play offense quite defensively, stiff-arming and plowing over defenders with apparent ease.

It appeared that Minnesota came into the game too dependent on receivers and running backs like Donnell Kirkwood Jr. to balance out Shortell’s conventional pass game, but the Gopher offense could not hold up against the Hawkeye defense.

At various points in the game we saw Shortell trying his hand out at running the ball—perhaps aiming to channel his inner Gray—that too proved unsuccessful. Shortell was sacked repeatedly, even twice in one possession. Towards the end of the third quarter, fans saw a discouraged Gopher offense and a visibly defeated Shortell.

Despite the progress the Hawkeyes made on Saturday, they still have a recurring struggle that could potentially work against them in future games, which is the amount of penalties they incur and the yards given up as a result. This was a large obstacle for them in the game against the Chippewas.

Perhaps now that they are gaining a rhythm in execution, they can brush up on their ability to be patient and play smarter.