For this weekly column, the Minnesota Daily talks to somebody knowledgeable on the Gophers next opponent. This week, Minnesota will play Iowa at Kinnick Stadium. We talked to Scott Dochterman, a Land of 10 reporter for the Iowa Hawkeyes for insight into this week’s game.
Dochterman has covered Iowa football the last 12 years, and for Land of 10 for a little over a year. He is a senior writer at the publication.
What are the big storylines of this Iowa team going into the Minnesota game?
How do they bounce back? Iowa has lost three out of four. Iowa lost an overtime game to Northwestern, which is not palatable here. The fan base is really riled up, and Iowa needs to find an identity on offense. Iowa tries to be a running football team, and for whatever reason it can’t run the football. It has injuries, but that’s more of an excuse than what they want to try to portray. I would say right now Iowa is in a search for an identity on offense, and running the football is something that they have to do otherwise they are going to be in trouble in every game, the rest of the season.
How good is the sophomore Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley in just his first year starting?
Statistically, he’s really good. I mean he has 16 [passing] touchdowns and only three interceptions. That’s something you don’t see out of many quarterbacks his age. His completion percentage is probably a little low, but they attack down the field a little bit more. He’s doing okay at right around 1,500 [passing] yards through seven games. He’s having some issues hitting longer targets, he seems to be overthrowing a lot of receivers just as soon as they brake free down the field at 30 plus yards. So, once that gets corrected with more timing with a bunch of newer wide receivers, I think that will be an asset for Iowa.
How is this Iowa offensive line different from last year?
It’s totally banged up. Ike Boettger, a three-year starter at right tackle tore his achilles tendon in the second game against Iowa State. Boone Myers who started at left tackle the last two years, suffered a pretty bad high ankle sprain and he has only played sparingly all year. Right now they’re trying to rest him up to see if he can play at all the rest of this year, so those were two guys that were three year starters at tackle. It really caused a lot of issues up front, which is probably why they can’t run the football as well, because now they have two freshmen tackles. For awhile there, they had a guard playing tackle and that’s not to his benefit, Sean Welsh, who is one of the better guards in the Big Ten, but now that they have the two freshmen out there that seem to not be able to slip by their running attack, and it’s really hurting them.
Does the offense look different this year in how it picks up yards, going more to passing than running this year?
Iowa traditionally is a running football team. Iowa would like to run it. They try to be balanced, but Iowa would like to run it more, maybe 55-45 percentage split. But Iowa tries to run at minimum 4.5 yards per carry and right now they are well below that. That’s kind of the goal what they are looking for right now.
How big of a loss to the defense was linebacker Josey Jewell last week? Is he back?
Yeah he’s back on the depth chart, I would imagine he would play. It was a difficult loss for Iowa, but that wasn’t the reason why they lost the game. They gave up 10 points in regulation. [Jewell] is the best player and he is the leader of this team so maybe he would have caused a turnover or he would have stopped a third down. They lost this game because their offense couldn’t execute. He’s their super star, no doubt about it, but he wasn’t the reason they lost.
How good is the Iowa defense?
I think it’s pretty solid. It’s had some statistical issues: allowing a lot of yards, especially when they played Saquon Barkley at Penn State, and they gave up quite a few yards to Illinois inexplicably. But they do have a better than average pass rush. When Jewell’s in there they have three senior linebackers. Their secondary is not too bad.
Tell me about that 21-19 loss to No. 2 Penn State? How close was Iowa to winning that one?
They were up by four points with 1:30 to go, Penn State drove the length of the field, and on the game’s final play, it was a fourth down play at the seven [yard line]. Trace McSorley took them to a pass at the end zone, it just went above the hands of Amani Hooker, who’s from Minneapolis by the way, safety [Hooker’s] hands and the game winning touchdown [was caught]. So they were within an inch of winning that game. It was a tough loss for them and I don’t know if there’s a hangover effect or not, but it certainly caught up with them. Against Michigan State they couldn’t run the football, which they struggled to do against Penn State as well. They weren’t ready for it, and they got beat.
Best player on offense?
Best player on defense?
Most under-the-radar player?
Hawkeyes season record prediction?
Iowa 20, Minnesota 14