• Travis Thornburgh

Game Recap: Miami (OH)

Initial Takeaways:

- Mekhi Sargent is the clear No. 1 running back and he performed like it.

- A.J. Epenesa should get used to getting double teamed.

- The offensive line depth showed after losing Alaric Jackson.

- Nate Stanley can run the football when he needs to.

- Defensive back is the biggest question mark on this team.

- This game could have been much more lopsided if Iowa finished a couple more drives in the first half.

- Upon rewatch, Iowa generated much more pressure than I initially realized watching in the stadium. By my count, defensive lineman were one step from sacking the quarterback on 11 different occasions.

- Sam LaPorta is the No. 3 tight end, and has a chance to be a contributor this year.

Views From the Corner of Kinnick

This game was exactly what I was expecting as I headed to Iowa City on Saturday. Iowa started slow in the scoring, but they moved the ball effectively early. In the first quarter, Iowa put together 2 productive drives, with one ending if a failed 4th down conversion inside the Miami 40 and another ending in the Miami redzone with a field goal. The two drives combined for 118 yards of total offense. Iowa certainly left points on the table in the first half and looked rusty throughout the half.

The second half was a different story. Iowa nearly matched their 1st half yardage total of 202 yards in the 3rd quarter, putting up 187 yards of offense en route to opening up a 24-7 advantage. Iowa would give up a touchdown following a Brady Ross fumble, but the game was never really in doubt, as the Hawkeyes pulled away to a 38-14 final score.

In general, Iowa was solid. The Brady Ross fumble is the only glaring mistake that comes to mind, and the running game was outstanding. I will say, there was a lot more variety in playcalling than I expected, but I also don't think Brian Ferentz showed much that most people wouldn't expect. Iowa ran their fair share of 2 tight end formations and a surprisingly high number of plays with the fullback on the field.

Mehki Sargent seems to have seized control of the starting running back position, with Toren Young playing the role of the primary backup. I was intrigued by the number of plays where Iowa had both Young and Sargent on the field at the same time, and I look for Brian Ferentz to continue employing those two running back looks. Both guys looked solid when they got a chance, and I was incredibly impressed with Tyler Goodson when he entered the game late. After seeing Goodson in action, I think Iowa is comfortably 4 deep in the back field.

Nate Stanley looked good and showed surprising athleticism in breaking off two runs of 15+ yards. Stanley had two big mistakes, an intentional grounding penalty and an overthrow of a wide open Brandon Smith. However, the positives outweighed the negatives for Stanley. Shortly after the overthrow, Stanley let off a near perfect deep throw that was ruined when Ihmir Smith-Marsette was held by the defender. Stanley also threw three outstanding fade routes to the endzone, with two producing touchdowns. Stanley found 10 different receivers and completed over 70% of his passes as well. Although Nate Stanley didn't put up insane numbers, he dominated the Miami offense and seemed in control throughout the game, despite the offensive line being in flux all night. Stanley pulled within 20 career touchdown passes for the all-time mark at Iowa with his 3 touchdown passes on Saturday.

Iowa's defense was solid, but has one of the biggest early questions marks for this team. At times on Saturday, the defensive backs looked out of sync, missing a number of assignments and reminding us there will be some growing pains with this incredibly young group. The linebackers played well and because Miami ran one tight end for a majority of their offensive plays, Iowa ran a ton of their traditional 4-3 defense instead of the 5 defensive back look they showed most of fall practice. Despite not generating huge sack numbers, the defense created a good deal of pressure while holding Miami to only 59 rushing yards, 186 passing yards, and surrendering only 14 points.

Special Teams was a non-factor in this one. New punter Michael Sleep-Dalton only took one punt, which wasn't great and only netted 31 yards. No issues surfaced in the kick and punt return games, which is always a positive, and Keith Duncan showed consistency in driving the PATs home and hitting his one field goal attempt.

It was an overall solid victory for Iowa. There were no glaring weaknesses that are causes for alarm, but there are certainly things to build on. The offense looked good despite playing 9+ offensive lineman and losing a likely early round draft pick in Alaric Jackson early. Nate Stanley had command of the offense and the running backs looked much improved from a year ago. The defense got better as the game went on and the defensive backs seemed to settle in after overcoming the butterflies of the first half. The Hawks should feel good heading into a Week 2 Big Ten Opener against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Travis's Player of the Game: Nate Stanley - 21 for 30 (70%), 252 passing yards, 3 Touchdowns, 2 Rushes for 31 yards, Sacked 3 Times

Up Next: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-0 (0-0) at Kinnick Stadium

As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!

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About Travis

A lifelong Hawkeye fan and a 2017 graduate of the University of Iowa in Civil Engineering, Travis now calls Des Moines, Iowa home and continues to passionately follow University of Iowa athletics

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