• Travis Thornburgh

Game Recap: Middle Tennessee

Initial Takeaways:

- Iowa made an emphatic statement early that they were not looking ahead to Michigan and turned in one of the most dominant performances I have seen from an Iowa team. - Iowa accumulated 644 yards of total offense, record under Kirk Ferentz.

- Iowa's defensive line continued their domination of opposing offensive lines. They were in the MTSU backfield all day and the Blue Raider offense never looked comfortable.

- Iowa started subbing in backups extremely early, including Mark Kallenberger subbing in for Tristan Wirfs on the 3rd offensive possession, which was a great sign.

- Despite how dominant the statistics and score looked, Middle Tennessee had a number of self-inflicted wounds that really didn't allow them to ever create momentum.

- Nate Stanley showed pinpoint accuracy down the field, having only one overthrow on deep passes and hitting a number of passes downfield while on the run.

- Each week, I am more and more convinced that this is the deepest I have seen both the running back and wide receiver positions at Iowa.

Views From the Corner of Kinnick

This game went exactly how it needed to. Iowa showed from the opening snap that they were in Kinnick with a purpose. They wanted to get in, impose their will on Middle Tennessee, and get out with a dominant performance while staying healthy as possible.

From the very beginning, Iowa showed how dominant they can be when they completely overmatch their opponent. I was surprised by how the game started for Iowa, with the first two plays being a straight drop back pass followed by the hurry up offense on 2nd and 1. Both of those things should serve as tendency breakers for an Iowa offense that has been criticized for being predictable over the last few seasons. On the heels of those two plays, Iowa marched right down the field to take a 7-0 lead on Mekhi Sargent's 4-yard touchdown run. The Hawks would go on to score 24 first half points. The defense in the first half was spectacular, allowing no points and holding Middle Tennessee to 26 first quarter offensive yards. The defensive line lived in the backfield, setting the tone early by punishing Blue Raider quarterback Asher O'hara on his first offensive snap.

The second half was more of the same, with Iowa opening the scoring on a Keith Duncan field goal early in the 3rd quarter. Middle Tennessee would then score their only points of the ballgame, on a 43-yard field goal from Crews Holt. Iowa continued their onslaught, driving down the field 3 more times en route to a convincing 48-3 victory over the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee.I

This game can be summed up in two words, dominant and ugly. Iowa was the better team in all facets, imposing their will along both lines, and pretty much moving the ball at will on a completely overmatched Middle Tennessee defense. The workman like attitude shown by this Iowa team is something that really bodes well for the rest of this season, as they didn't take Middle Tennessee for granted.

I think my biggest takeaway from this game were the holes that Iowa was opening in the run game. On a number of occasions, Iowa's running backs reached the 3rd level of the defense untouched and showed great decisiveness as they exploded through gaping running lanes. Mehki Sargent, Toren Young, and Tyler Goodson all had over 90 rushing yards on the day, with Young leading the group at 131 yards with an 11.9 yards per carry average. I was impressed with Tyler Goodson and his decisiveness on cuts and getting upfield. Nate Stanley even got in on the rushing action, converting an early 3rd and 1 on a quarterback sneak that ended up yielding 10 yards, 7 of which were generated by the massive push the offensive line generated.

In the past, Iowa may have struggled with a team like Middle Tennesee, particularly in a week where they could be looking ahead to a big matchup with Michigan. The leadership on this team obviously didn't let that happen, as Iowa looked as prepared as I've ever seen them in a "trap game" scenario.

Nate Stanley continues to look in complete control of this offense, and continued his impressive start to the season, accumulating 276 passing yards and adding 2 passing touchdowns to his total, bringing him to 60 on his career, and he still has not throw an interception this season. He is now 1 touchdown short of tying Drew Tate for second all-time in Iowa history, and 14 from Chuck Long's all-time school record for passing touchdowns in a career. At his current pace, Stanley would tie Chuck Long's record in Game 11 against Illinois.

Defensively, Iowa continued to show that this could be among the best defenses of the Kirk Ferentz Era. They held Middle Tennessee to just 3 points and a touch over 200 yards of total offense, despite the defensive secondary being extremely banged up. Iowa's defensive line lived in the Middle Tennessee backfield for most of the game, accumulating 2 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. The defense probably gave up more yardage than they would have liked, but they were in a prevent style defense for most of the game, trying to limit big plays and keep the clock moving. Overall, I think it was a solid performance for a banged up defense that likely has its best football in front of it.

Despite all the positives from this game, there were a few negative things I took away from rewatching the game. First off, Nate Stanley got lucky early on, when he fired a sure-fire interception that somehow ricocheted off the defender's hands and into the waiting arms of Tyrone Tracy. Additionally, at times throughout the game Iowa allowed Asher O'hara to pick up huge chunks of yardage on the ground in scramble situations. Again, Iowa was in a prevent style defense for a majority of the game, so I am not super concerned about their ability to stop mobile quarterbacks at this point, but it is something to keep an eye on as the season wears on.

Overall, Iowa did what it had to do. The Hawks entered knowing that Middle Tennessee was overmatched and they took care of business. It wasn't flashy, it wasn't particularly pretty, but it was as dominant a performance as I have seen from the Iowa Hawkeyes under Kirk Ferentz, fittingly ending up the most prolific offensive performance in terms of total yardage of the Krik Ferentz Era. Iowa looks to be running on all cylinders offensively and defensively as they gear up for the upcoming matchup with Michigan. After this week's performance, I feel much better about the looming trip to Ann Arbor than I did a month ago.

Travis's Player of the Game: Toren Young - 11 Carries, 131 Rushing Yards, 11.9 yards per carry with a long run of 51 yards

Honorable Mention: Daviyon Nixon - 7 Tackles, 5 Solo Tackles, 1 Sack, and 2.5 Tackles for Loss

Up Next: The Michigan Wolverines 3-1 (1-1 Big Ten) in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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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