Not many folks would have predicted, that after three games, Iowa wideout Matt VandeBerg would be the Big Ten leader in receptions, but here we are. He's gotten a lot of flak for not being that explosive playmaker the Hawkeyes have needed, but he's more than filled several other voids while adding to the fireworks the Iowa offense has created thus far.
Part of the reason for all of the targets to VandeBerg is the defensive gameplans they face and the fact that he's very adept at creating separation for such a smaller guy.
Secondaries have seemed to be apt to scheming against Tevaun Smith for the Hawkeyes, giving VandeBerg much more of a chance to emerge as a significant contributor. He's also a gifted route runner. He may not be the fastest, quickest, biggest, or strongest, but he has a natural feel for the game and is very technically sound.
His 22 receptions lead the Big Ten but he seems genuinely surprised by the numbers, and unphased by his individual achievements.
"I don't care about the numbers," VandeBerg admitted. "All I care about is making sure we win the next game."
The volume of the passing game has also been surprising. Iowa and quarterback C.J. Beathard had nearly 30 pass attempts in just the first half. That's naturally given the receivers more chances but it also allowed the running game to take off on Saturday.
"That is a high number (nearly 30 passes in the first half," VandeBerg pointed out. "With the way they play, we thought we could get them on the edges. We stretched them some in the first and half which I think is why they loosened up and we were able to run it in the third and fourth quarters."
Some of that running came from the Hawkeye signal caller, which is all fine and dandy to VandeBerg, but he's also mindful of his quarterback's health.
"I don't like to see C.J. (Beathard) hit at all," he shared. "When he's a guy that can tuck it and run, that's nice. But he needs to learn how to slide sometimes, too."