Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley sits on the bench after fumbling the ball during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. The badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 38-14. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Hawkeye offense smothered in Badger beatdown

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Coming off one of its best offensive performances in recent memory, Iowa’s offense hardly resembled the one that piled up the yards against Ohio State on Nov. 4.

By Adam Hensley | adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

 

MADISON, Wis. — One week ago, Iowa scored 55 points against the No. 3 team in the country, ran for 243 yards, and its quarterback threw for 5 touchdowns.

Against the Badgers, that offense was nowhere to be found.

Iowa mustered only 66 yards in its 38-14 loss to Wisconsin, and the Hawkeye offense was never able to get into a rhythm.

Quarterback Nate Stanley, one week removed from his 226-yard, 5-touchdown performance against the Buckeyes, completed 8-of-24 passing attempts, compiling only 41 yards through the air. He also threw an interception and fumbled the ball twice.

The sophomore’s passer rating read 39.4 when the frostbite settled.

“When we did have something open, we couldn’t either throw it well enough or catch it,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It was just one of those days.”

On one play in particular, tight end Noah Fant had a step or two on his defender. Stanley fired an excellent pass right into Fant’s outstretched arms, but he dropped it.

“Little missed throws, little inches make a difference,” Ferentz said.

While the passing attack failed to connect, the ground game proved to be just as inefficient.

The Hawkeyes ran for only 25 yards — 218 yards fewer than their big outing against Ohio State. On 26 carries, Iowa averaged a single yard per attempt, and the longest run came on a 9-yard run from tailback Akrum Wadley.

“It was basically the opposite of last week,” Wadley said. “We didn’t execute too well. I know we didn’t overcome adversity.”

The Hawkeyes punted three times in the win against Ohio State, but on NOv. 11 against Wisconsin, the Black and Gold tripled that number, punting nine times.

Iowa held the ball for 21:33. The Hawkeyes failed to produce a drive surpassing 3 minutes. 11 of Iowa’s last 12 possessions failed to reach 2:00 in length, including eight consecutive drives of 1:40 or shorter.

Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense was a change from the normal 4-3 units Iowa has faced, but none of the players and coaches were willing to point the finger at a challenging defensive scheme.

“We knew that they mixed up the 3-4 on four downs, so we just prepared for it,” Stanley said. “They just came out an executed it a little better than we did this week.”

It’s not ideal when a defensive player outgains and outscores an entire offense, but that was the case, as Josh Jackson racked up 95 yards on his 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Jackson was the team’s only catalyst, if you would go so far as to say any momentum was ever built up in the contest.

From the beginning, it looked as though Iowa was picking up — or off — right where it left off against Ohio State, as Jackson intercepted Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook and returned the pick 43 yards for a score on the game’s opening drive.

That’s about as similar as both games turned out to be.

“Two totally opposite ends of the spectrum,” Stanley said.

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