IS THIS THE DEFENSE WE SEE FROM NOW ON?
The Iowa defense was outstanding against Minnesota. It was the worst game Mitch Leidner has had in the rivalry. The Hawkeyes had been surrendering a ton of yardage on the ground and bending a lot headed into the contest but they were on their game Saturday in Minneapolis. They stifled the Gophers and came up with a lot of big plays and bent much less than they had been. I do think that Tracy Claeys and his staff made a mistake by not getting the ball in Shannon Brooks' hands but this was the defense Iowa needs the rest of the year. They were still a couple flaws that crept up from time to time but they played faster and locked Minnesota up for the most part. Was this a one-week thing or is this the defense we see the rest of the year? That is the question. If this is the defense moving forward then Iowa has a chance to climb out of this hole and still contend for a Big Ten West crown.
OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLE
I didn't expect immediate success, and it didn't come, but it was good to see Iowa attempt some kind of change to fire something up on the offensive side of the ball. They are against changing personnel for the most part but they did re-align their offensive line, moving Boone Myers to left tackle, Cole Croston to right tackle, and sliding Ike Boettger inside at left guard. Rumor has it that Croston is a little dinged and affecting his quickness out at left tackle where it is more of a liability. Boettger was getting beat pretty often at right tackle. So the Hawkeyes moved both to a position to be a bit more successful. I'm a bit more skeptical on how Boone Myers at left tackle. However, this could be a more effective lineup for the most part at least right now. Once they can find more chemistry and cohesion in these spots, this could be an alignment that gives them the best chance at growth.
DOES THIS GIVE THE HAWKEYES A BIG JUMP FORWARD?
Iowa needed this win badly. And despite it not being pretty at all, it is the type of win that can really propel a team forward. It was hard-fought, it was emotional, and it showed a lot of toughness on the Hawkeyes' part. It kept the second rivalry trophy in Iowa City. This is a victory that can give them a lot of confidence and really allow them to take off as a team. I think it gives them a big jump forward and they now get Purdue (who has only won three conference games since the end of 2012) at just the right time. They have every opportunity to face Wisconsin with a lot of positive momentum headed in.
They have won eight straight games on the road with seven of them being in the conference. In that same time their two losses are at home against North Dakota State and Northwestern. But are they really that much better on the road? Sure, the road wins last year were impressive over Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska. There's also wins away from home at Iowa State and Indiana. This year's road wins are against Rutgers and Minnesota. Beathard is undefeated on the road. But are they that much better on the road? I don't think so, at least not this season. I just tend to believe their easier contests are away from home this season, outside of Penn State. Rutgers and Minnesota aren't as good as Northwestern and North Dakota State. They also still have Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan at home. It was almost a lock that they would fare better on the road this season than at home because of how the schedule lined up. But, you'll take it any way you can get it and it's always a challenge to get wins away from Kinnick.
It can't happen. The Hawkeye receivers can't drop the ball. They're already challenged with a ton of inexperience outside of McCarron, and they're challenged with getting open. They can't add to the problem by dropping the ones when they do get open. There's no margin for error. When they do get open, and it doesn't happen enough, they have to capitalize each time. They can't overcome another deficiency in the passing game. This is concerning.