Iowa is 6th in the nation in net punting, and if he had a few more kicks, Andy Fenstermaker would be 21st in the nation with an average if 43.44 yards per punt. Those are solid numbers, illustrating how solid Fenstermaker and John Gallery have been kicking the ball in addition to a great effort by Iowa's punt coverage. Charles Godfrey and Miguel Merrick are turning in another exceptional season as Iowa's gunners on coverage.
Mitch King and Ken Iwebema are tied for 80th in the nation in tackles for loss, and Iwebema is tied for 31st in sacks with four. King is tied for 11th for forced fumbles, tallying three on the year thus far.
Iowa's next opponent, Purdue, ranks 21st in the nation in total offense, gaining nearly 450 yards per game. But they are a shocking 110th in total defense, allowing nearly 470 yards per game. It's shocking because their defense from one year ago was very solid, and they returned all 11 starters. Yes, they have played offensive powerhouse Minnesota and a powerhouse in the making in Notre Dame, but the Gophers shredded the Boilermakers on the ground while Notre Dame torched them through the air.
Though Iowa's defense is still susceptible to a running attack, and Purdue ranks 23rd in the country in that category at just over 198 yards per game, Iowa's offense could have a solid day on the road at Purdue, something that it has struggled with in recent years. Purdue's pass defense is 2nd worst in the nation.
Two of Iowa's opponents thus far, Ohio State and Iowa State, are showing up strong against the run thus far. Ohio State leads the nation against the run, allowing less than 42 yards per game on the ground. Iowa State is allowing just 107.5 yards per game on the ground, good for 21st in the country.
Iowa's backs caught eight passes on Saturday, a surprising number when looking at Iowa's recent history throwing passes to its running backs.
In 2002, Iowa running backs caught eight passes all season. Though more passes went to backs in 2003 & 2004 than in 2002, the majority of those passes went to the fullbacks. Iowa backs caught 31 passes in 2003, with fullback Edgar Cervantes hauling in 17 of those. Last year, Iowa's backs caught 43 passes, with fullback Aaron Mickens catching 15 of those.
Iowa's backs have hauled in 19 passes thus far this year, with Albert Young snaring eight passes, the most for an Iowa tailback since Ladell Betts caught 15 passes that year. Jeremy Allen had 20 receptions in 2001, but he was a dangerous receiving and running threat, not your typical blocking fullback. Betts had 17 receptions in 2000.
I would look for more and more passes to the Iowa running backs this year as the team continues to try to spread defenses farther outside of the box.
One of the more alarming trends that has emerged this year is Iowa's inability to stop opponents on third downs. The Hawkeyes are yielding a third down completion percentage of 45 percent in all games and a frightening 61.1 percent in its first two Big Ten games. Their total through five games ranks just 98th in the nation.
Kirk Ferentz has won in all but two Big Ten veunes as a head coach: Ohio Stadium and Ross Ade Stadium, the latter being the site of this week's game.