All offseason, Iowa’s coaches were optimistic that the team’s lackluster offense would show improvement in 2022.
Maybe that improvement will show up in Week 2.
Iowa won its opener over South Dakota State on Saturday in a very unconventional yet totally on brand fashion. The Hawkeyes won 7-3 in a game in which their defense scored more than the offense. The defense registered two safeties for four points. The offense could only muster a field goal.
If you had to think of a team that would find a way to score seven points without a touchdown, it’d be Iowa, right?
— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) September 3, 2022
In the win, Iowa put up only 168 yards of offense. The Hawkeyes, usually known for a solid ground game, ran for 59 yards on 35 attempts. The passing game wasn’t much better. Spencer Petras, the team’s third-year starter at quarterback, finished the day 11-of-25 for 109 yards and an interception.
As a team, Iowa averaged 2.8 yards per play, turned it over twice, gained just 10 first downs and went a miserable 4-of-17 on third down. Against an FCS team. Yikes.
Luckily, Iowa’s defense and special teams were there to save the day — much like it was last season when the Hawkeyes won 10 games and the Big Ten West despite finishing No. 121 nationally in total offense.
In addition to the two clutch safeties, including the one that gave the Hawkeyes a 5-3 lead with 4:09 left in the third quarter, Iowa held the Jackrabbits to 120 yards of offense, six first downs and 3-of-16 on third-down attempts. SDSU also had a whopping 12 penalties, including a bevy of false starts.
The MVP of the day for Iowa, though, was punter Tory Taylor. Taylor punted 10 times for an average of 47.9 yards per punt. Most notably, he downed seven of those punts inside the 20, including five inside the 10. Two of those punts backed up SDSU inside its own 5-yard line, leading directly to both safeties to allow the Hawkeyes to escape with a victory.
With Iowa State visiting Iowa City next weekend, the Hawkeyes have a lot to work on in practice in the coming week.