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Not even Kinnick could help Iowa’s struggling offense

September 9, 2012
By TROY HYDE - T-R Assistant Sports Editor ( , Times-Republican

IOWA CITY - Two games. One touchdown. Plenty of frustration.

The Iowa offense has been less than impressive in the first two games of the season. And it doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon.

"It would have been great to have more points today," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "But it is what it is right now, and we are going to keep working. We ran the ball better last week, not as well today."

Article Photos

Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg (16) is hit from behind by Iowa State defensive end Roosevelt Maggitt as he releases a pass in the fourth quarter.

The Hawkeye offense did not get to 100 yards until late in the second quarter and the Iowa State defense held the rushing attack to just 68 yards in 28 carries. The big-play athletes appear to be non-existent right now, and the offensive line has yet to establish themselves as a dominant unit to the offense.

All of those things need to get better in a hurry if Iowa wants to be a winning football team. The Hawkeyes are 0-for-6 this season when it comes to scoring touchdowns when in the red zone. They also were just 5-for-17 on third downs against the Cyclones on Saturday.

"We certainly can't waste a day of learning," Ferentz said. "Losses hurt and losses are supposed to hurt. The challenge now is how can we get better and how fast can we get there."

Aside from rushing for only 68 yards, the Iowa pass catchers also dropped several passes from James Vandenberg, who admits he can also get better, too.

"The improvement is going to take a collective effort," Vandenberg said. "I am sure that all of us are going to see something on tape that we can do better. We need to find a way to be able to score more points though."

Part of the credit can certainly go to Iowa State. Part of the blame can go to the fact that Iowa is young and inexperienced in a lot of the skill positions. The rest of the blame can be put on the offensive line for not giving Vandenberg enough time in the pocket and not opening up enough holes in the running game.

Whatever the issues are, the Hawkeyes need to find a way to improve. Otherwise, the defense will be asked to virtually pitch shutouts every week.

"If someone tells you that this loss won't hurt then they are lying to you," Iowa senior center James Ferentz said. "We'll turn the page and move on. That's what good teams do."

Iowa linebacker James Morris did his part in trying to get Iowa the victory against Iowa State on Saturday. He made eight tackles and had what could have been a game-changing interception late in the game. But the offense was unable to cash in on the Iowa State turnover.

"We have to get better," Morris said. "I don't think there is any other choice. If we want to be a good football team, we have to get better."

The Hawkeyes got four field goals from Mike Meyer last weekend and two more from the junior Saturday. The offense put together a touchdown drive in the closing minutes against Northern Illinois last weekend.

At this point, Iowa is fortunate to be 1-1. And if things don't get better in a hurry, the Hawkeyes could fall to 1-2 as they host instate rival Northern Iowa on Saturday. Northern Iowa nearly knocked off Wisconsin in Madison last weekend. And the Panthers will not be intimidated by an Iowa offense that struggles to move the ball - averaging less than three yards per rushing attempt against Iowa State on Saturday.

"We had several drives where we moved it, and when we are making plays, that gives you a chance to move it and advance it," Kirk Ferentz said. "The little things affected us, a lot of little errors during the course of the game. The soft drives certainly did.

"Our protection was better today. Just in general terms, that was an improvement. But obviously we did not finish drives again, the ones that we did have. And then obviously the biggest situation, it was ball down inside the 5 and we couldn't punch it in."



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