Iowa did not have much going on offense, but we saw some improvements made in certain areas that were areas of concern. First off, the offensive line hasn't been very good over the course of the last couple of games. The staff went ahead and switched somethings up with Cole Croston moving all the way over to RT, Boone Myers sliding out to LT, and Ike Boettger moving to LG.
I thought the offensive line played extremely well given the fact that things were different in this contest as opposed to recent games. They won the line of scrimmage for a majority of the day and gave C.J. Beathard more time in the pocket than he's been used to this season.
Secondly, Akrum Wadley came up with a huge run to give Iowa the lead late in the game. Both he and Daniels seemed like they were on the cusp of breaking one for a touchdown the entire day. Daniels nearly did it in the first half, but was tripped up and Iowa had to settle for the field goal. Wadley broke the one tackle he needed to in the fourth quarter and he was gone. Both the offensive line and Wadley get game balls from me today.
I was extremely impressed with the play of Jaleel Johnson. He got a good push for a majority of the afternoon, played the run well, and was able to put pressure on Mitch Leidner. He came up with one sack, but totaled four tackles and played a key role in Iowa's late interception of Leidner. Johnson came right up the middle putting pressure on Leidner who had to get rid of the ball faster than he wanted to and he wound up throwing it right to Iowa safety Brandon Snyder, who needed that confidence booster.
The defensive line has had their fair share of struggles in getting pressure on the QB and I think Johnson knew that. He, as the lone senior on the defensive line, did a good job stepping up and giving the Hawkeyes the pass rush they needed. It even paved the way for another sack from Nathan Bazata and Anthony Nelson later in the contest.
Desmond King was once again spectacular in the return game. It was the first half that really stuck out to me, though. He gave Iowa great field position on his first three or four punt returns. The Hawkeyes just couldn't capitalize. He's a weapon that not many teams have so the fact that he can give Iowa good return yardage and set them up with good field position helps a lot. Especially when you factor in the offensive struggles this team is enduring.
This isn't his first game ball and it probably won't be his last, but CB Manny Rugamba stuck out to me. He was good in coverage yesterday, like he has been all year and played his first interception as a Hawkeye beautifully as he snuck underneath the receiver to execute the INT. He's been one of the pleasant surprises in terms of true freshman so far this season. Side note; who had Rugamba recording an INT before Desmond King this season?
Great job by the true freshman yesterday.