Iowa was 4-2 last season before losing their final six games. They have also started the 2013 season with a 4-2 record, but feel much better about their current direction.
A lot of that is due to the performance of the experienced Hawkeye defense, which includes six seniors and three juniors.
Iowa is the only football team in the country that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. Over their last five games, they have only allowed one first-half touchdown, and they have not allowed a first-quarter score of any kind during that time frame.
They are 12th nationally in scoring defense, ninth in total defense, and sixth in third-down conversion defense. (Opponents are only good on 27 percent of third downs versus the Hawkeyes.)
Much of the credit for that goes to the team’s three leading tacklers, senior linebackers Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer knows as much telling 97.1 The Fan, “This next group we play we feel is the best defensive front we’ve faced, and one of the best in the conference in Iowa, so it will be a big challenge.”
However, that front has only accounted for six sacks this season, which puts them 113th in the country in that category. And it’s not like the Iowa secondary isn’t making an impact. The Hawkeyes have nine interceptions this year.
In terms of the offense, Iowa has introduced just a little of the up-tempo game. Mostly, though, it’s an Iowa offense you’d recognize, and the key word is balance. Iowa is averaging 207.5 rushing yards a game, while throwing for 209.3.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock, although not the most efficient of quarterbacks (10th in the Big Ten in efficiency), is able to contribute in either capacity, completing over 60 percent of his passes and throwing for 8 touchdowns this season, while running for an average of 4.5 yards a carry and carrying it into the end zone 5 times.
Iowa’s deep-play threat is wide receiver Damond Powell. He has six catches that have covered an average of 38 yards each. Their most frequent target is Kevonte Martin-Manley, who has 26 receptions. Meanwhile, C.J. Fiedorowicz has at least one reception in 24 straight games, one of the longest streaks among active FBS tight ends.
Running back Mark Weisman has more carries than any other Big Ten running back. He’s putting up a little over 100 yards a contest.
From a special teams perspective, Iowa’s biggest threat is Martin-Manley. He’s the leading punt returner (232 yards on 9 returns) in the country.
Iowa’s made some changes to the offensive staff the past couple seasons, but defensively, there’s been a lot of continuity. In fact, defensive coordinator Phil Parker has been with the program the past 15 years. Also of note, Iowa has three assistants they list as having the state of Ohio in their recruiting area.
One final thing? Head coach Kirk Ferentz made about $14.60 in the time you spent reading this piece.