The goal for the Iowa offense has always been simple.
“We need to change field position, and we need to score points,” Hawkeyes offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said.
You can’t win without scoring points. Some have tried. All have failed. However, it’s been a mighty inconsistent showing on that front for Iowa.
“I know offensively, perhaps we haven’t had the statistics or the measurables or all those things, maybe we are not that exciting,” Ferentz said.
The Hawkeyes finished the regular season 10th in the Big Ten in scoring at 23.9 points/game and 13th in total offense, managing just 297.5 yards/game.
Go back to the “maybe we are not that exciting” thing, just three lines up.
But again, that was never the goal. Each unit sees themselves as part of a whole, with the mission of doing its job to help the team win.
Just like the Powerpuff Girls, there’s three key ingredients that help the Iowa offense make that happen: synergy, running the ball and being physical.
“We need to be a group that can support the team and win games,” Ferentz said. “Our job offensively is to fit within to that goal, but that’s always going to come down to running the football.”
It’s part of complementary football as they call it. (How many times have you heard that?)
And for better or for worse, that’s their identity and they’re sticking with it. Even if Ferentz thinks (and is seemingly unhappy about) the game getting away from its inherent physicality.
“I know we are trying to take it out of the game desperately,” he said. “But at the end of the day, this is a physical game. And you can make up the difference perhaps between you and an opponent, you can close gaps with the togetherness of team and with the physicalness of the game. That’s what we are always going to be built on.”
But he digresses.
For better? Take a look at both of their winning streaks this season. They were able to do those three things for the most part, and it got them just enough points to win games. Lest we forget, the No. 2 ranking.
For worse? Nothing is a better illustration of that than their three losses. They scored 17 total points and averaged just 68 yards on the ground in those games. Most recently, it was against then-No. 3 Michigan in Indianapolis.
“You look at our last game, you look at the rushing numbers, I think that bears out the result. It’s going to be hard for us to win like that,” Ferentz said.
That’s not say it’s going to be the exact same thing come Saturday. They aren’t ignoring the results. The month off has given them plenty of time to evaluate what went wrong and where they can do better.
“That doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do other things,” Ferentz said. “You certainly have a lot more time to dive into some of the self-scout and the tape. Then, you have a lot more time to go back and work on some things.”
That’s crucial because their opponent this weekend has a pretty good defense. Kentucky ranked fourth in the SEC in points and rushing yards allowed.
“What we have really tried to do over the last four weeks is focus on things that we have been successful doing, things that we feel like we can match up against Kentucky.”
But it won’t look too different. When they take the field this weekend, regardless of who’s behind center, it’s going to be largely the same offense (minus their leading rusher) they’ve run all season. It’s not always pretty or fun, but it’s just who the Hawkeyes are. For better or for worse.
“You are not going to change your identity overnight, and not that you want to, either,” Ferentz said.