Iowa's Ferentz gets mulligan for shaky opener
IOWA CITY, Iowa—Kirk Ferentz has had some mighty fine days leading the Black and Gold. Sept. 5 was not one of them.
Every coach has off days, and sometimes they occur when you have to lead a team against a supposedly inferior opponent. In that case, as evidenced by this past weekend, your misfortune is magnified as if fans are peering through the Hubble telescope.
I have to admit, I was pretty critical of the Hawkeye headman when the turf pellets had settled from an unbelievable, un-duplicatable finish.
First, Ferentz and the Iowa coaching staff were largely to blame for a very inconsistent pass rush.
Iowa’s ability to put pressure on Northern Iowa quarterback Pat Grace, or lack thereof, ultimately dictated what the Panthers were able to accomplish on any given drive.
Iowa’s defensive front dominated in the first quarter, surrendering only 32 yards of total offense.
However, the coaching staff neglected to efficiently rotate the defensive line, which wore down the pass rush and allowed Grace time to lead the Panthers 91 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The defensive line was impressive again in the third quarter but was too tired to stop two-straight Northern Iowa drives deep into scoring territory at the end of the game.
Ferentz’s second slip was his unwillingness to roll Ricky Stanzi out of the pocket in the first half. Stanzi is going to be an above average quarterback, but his ability to throw from the pocket is still largely undeveloped.
Most of his throws in the first half were off target, but he looked smooth when he was given the chance to roll out in the second half. He repeatedly hit Tony Moeaki and crew in stride on two touchdown drives en route to amassing 179 yards in the half.
The last qualm I had with Ferentz was his decision to run redshirt freshman Adam Robinson on fourth and one from the Northern Iowa 32 in the fourth quarter. It was frustrating to watch Robinson get swarmed under for a loss when a field goal would have forced Northern Iowa to score a touchdown.
I realize kicker Daniel Murray had missed a similar kick earlier in the half, but you have to have faith in your kicker in that situation. Iowa let the Panthers dictate how the game would end with that decision, which almost cost the Hawkeyes.