• Travis Thornburgh

Game Recap: Purdue Boilermakers

Initial Takeaways:


- Tyler Linderbaum didn't move on the false start called on him with around four minutes left in the game. Replay confirms that fact. - The offense had flashes of success throughout the game, finishing drives with touchdowns will be the next step against Northwestern.

- The interior of the offensive line got progressively better throughout the game and showed flashes of dominance, highlighted by a huge Mark Kallenberger pancake block on Iowa's second to last possession.

- Nate Stanley got no closer to the all-time passing touchdown record, but continued to show that he can carry this offense, racking up 260 passing yards.

- The score of this game made the game seem much closer than it was. Throughout the game, Purdue never threatened to take the lead, nor Iowa ever feel like they were in danger of losing the lead.

- If the Linderbaum "false start" is officiated correctly, I think this game ends with a final score of 19-10 and Iowa fans feel much better about the way the game turned out, celebrating a "defensive struggle".

- The biggest news for Iowa didn't transpire in Iowa City, as Wisconsin fell to Illinois. With the loss, Iowa needs to win out and have Minnesota lose to one other team to punch their ticket to Indianapolis.


Views From the Corner of Kinnick


Lesson of the weekend, a conference win is a conference win and fans should never take that for granted, just ask Wisconsin. It wasn't pretty and the Hawks didn't blow Purdue out, but there were flashes of offensive line success, mixed in with some impressive downfield throws from Nate Stanley, and timely takeaways by the Iowa defense. All in all, Iowa emerged victorious over the Purdue Boilermakers, something they haven't been able to say over the past two seasons.


The day started in decent fashion for the Iowa offense, with the game's opening possession being a 15 play, 63 yard drive that resulted in a Keith Duncan 30 yard field goal that elapsed over seven minutes of game time. The Iowa defense would then force a punt that would set up a 7 play, 56 yard drive that ended in another Duncan field goal to put Iowa up 6-0. On its second possession, the Purdue offense found a bit of a rhythm, stringing together a 12 play, 52 yard drive before Geno Stone forced a fumble in the Iowa redzone. The teams then traded punts before Iowa constructed another long drive, this one an 8 play, 31 yard drive, that resulted in a third Keith Duncan field goal. Purdue answered, driving 78 yards on 7 plays to put a touchdown on the board just before halftime, drawing the halftime score to an Iowa 9-7 lead.


Purdue looked to be rolling after halftime, stringing together an 8 play, 35 yard drive before Iowa's Riley Moss turned the tide by picking off Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer. Iowa's offense seized the opportunity, scoring their first touchdown of the game on a 9 play, 72 yard drive that saw Tyler Goodson score his first collegiate touchdown. The next three possessions saw two Boilermaker punts and one Hawkeye punt, before the Iowa offense would strike again, this time on a 7 play, 47 yard drive resulting in Keith Duncan's fourth field goal of the day. The Iowa defense then forced a 3 and out to get the ball back to the Iowa offense, a possession they would squander, as a ball glanced off Goodson's hands and into the waiting arms of a Purdue defender for Stanley's only interception on the day. The pick set Purdue up inside the Iowa 10 yard line. The Iowa defense stood tall, forcing a Purdue field goal from the 10 yard line after just three plays. The teams would then trade punts before an Iowa possession that could have completely altered the perception of this game.


Iowa had a 4th and 2 at the Purdue 49 yard line and lined up in a set that indicated a run attempt to convert the first down. Nate Stanley then proceeded to use a hard count that drew a Purdue defender offsides. The problem was, the officials incorrectly flagged Tyler Linderbaum for a false start on the play, a play in which neither the ball nor center moved. Iowa was then forced to punt with just over seven minutes left in the game instead of potentially milking an additional two or three minutes of the clock. On the first Purdue play from scrimmage, Iowa allowed a 54 yard pass play that was further aided with a 15 yard late hit penalty against A.J. Epenesa. The Iowa defense, in classic bend, don't break fashion, stood tall and held Purdue to a field goal. Purdue then attempted an onside kick, which Iowa recovered and was awarded an additional 15 yards on after a Purdue defender fell onto Nico Rigaini well after the play was over. The Iowa offense took advantage of the short field, traversing 35 yards on just two plays, capped by a Mehki Sargent touchdown that would prove to be the difference. Purdue answered the Iowa touchdown with one of their own, but it was too little too late, as Iowa recovered another onside kick with under 40 seconds left to seal the game.


All told, Iowa emerged victorious over the Purdue Boilermakers by a final score of 26-20. The game never really felt as close as the score would indicate, as Iowa took the lead on its first possession and never gave up that lead. Purdue threatened the Iowa lead, namely on the first possession of the second half before the interception, but never really felt closer than they were on that drive.


The Iowa offense showed flashes throughout the game, and the final touchdown drive looked like a classic Iowa drive, with lineman moving defenders off the ball and punching massive holes in the defense. There were a number of times where there was noticeable improvement in the guard play, and Mark Kallenberger proved impressive in pass protection and blocking out in front of screens. Iowa's gameplan against Purdue was clearly to pass with the intent of opening up the run, and the offensive line looked a little more poised to do that this week.


Nate Stanley continued to impress, racking up 260 passing yards and showing some versatility by keeping the ball on two different read option plays. Nate looked comfortable both in and out of the pocket, hitting a couple of deep passes on designed rollout plays. He did have one interception in the game, but it was a catchable pass that careened off of Tyler Goodson's hands and right into an awaiting defender's arms. The most impressive part of Nate Stanley's day though, were a handful of audibles he called throughout the game. Two that really stand out came on the first touchdown drive, where he audibled out of the called play and shifted to pass plays, resulting in gains of 17 yards to Ihmir Smith-Marsette and 21 yards to Tyrone Tracy, the latter of which set up a 1st and Goal at the 1 yard line. Stanley gets flak for some of his audibles, particularly when teams have blitzes called, but he did a really nice job against Purdue of getting the offense into positions to make plays.


Another huge positive for the Iowa offense was the play of Iowa's wide receiving corps, in particular Brandon Smith. Iowa's wide receivers accounted for all but two of the receptions on the day and 222 of Iowa's 260 passing yards. Unfortunately, Brandon Smith went down late in the game, with what was initially called a bone bruise, but has since been upgraded to an unspecified leg injury worse than a bone bruise. It looks like Smith will for sure miss the next two games, with the potential time line setting a return ahead of the Nebraska game. Oliver Martin, Tyrone Tracy Jr., and Calvin Lockett will likely be asked to fill in for Smith, who was quickly becoming Nate Stanley's favorite target.


The main concern for the Iowa offense moving forward is finishing drives. On all four Keith Duncan field goals, Iowa drove the ball inside the Purdue 30, but couldn't finish the drive. Finishing those drives with touchdowns instead of field goals will be the next step for this Iowa offense, as you will have to score touchdowns against teams like Wisconsin or Minnesota to compete in the Big Ten West down the stretch.


On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa was solid again. Purdue's offense is explosive, and forfeiting only 20 points to this team should be considered a success. Iowa generated a ton of pressure, generating 1 sack, 5 tackles for loss, and 6 quarterback hurries. Early in the second half, Iowa also forced Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer to throw at least 10 consecutive incompletions. Plummer never really looked comfortable in the second half, and the Iowa defense had a lot to do with that.


One of the best stories to come out of this defensive performance were the emergence of freshman all over the field. Iowa's lone sack was credited to West Des Moines' own John Waggoner. Dane Belton made his debut at the "cash" position and was impressive. Belton continually found himself around the football and no blown coverages really come to mind when thinking about Belton. Freshman linebacker Jack Campbell was also impressive in relief for the injured Kristian Welch. Campbell, much like Belton, found himself frequently around the ball and on a number of occasions set the edge for the Iowa defense, forcing the Purdue runner back to the inside.


The biggest question mark on the defense continues to be the secondary, as Purdue freshman David Bell piled up 13 receptions, 197 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Although the secondary largely held up to the deep threats, there were a couple of lapses that allowed Purdue to hang around in the game. Overall, the secondary is vastly improved from earlier games, and the emergence of Dane Belton at the cash position could prove very valuable down the stretch as a fifth defensive back.


The Iowa special teams were exceptional, picking up the Iowa offense when they couldn't quite finish. Keith Duncan now leads the nation in made field goals after hitting all four of his attempts against Purdue. Michael Sleep-Dalton continued to impress, flipping the field on multiple occasions and continuing to give his punt return team the time to get great downfield coverage.


What more is there to say, a win is a win, and on a day where Wisconsin lost to Illinois, Iowa took care of business against a team they should have beat. It wasn't flashy, it wasn't a blowout, and they certainly didn't accumulate any style points. Nate Stanley continues to be a solid and consistent contributor at a time when the Iowa offense is looking for a spark. The receiving corps appears to be rounding into form, but will need to see a transformation with the upcoming absence of Brandon Smith. The defense continues to impress, showing they can continue to be the workhorse for this year's Iowa team. The defense even added two takeaways, something that they have struggled with this year. Ultimately, this game should continue to give Iowa fans hope, as the offense showed flashes, the defense was impressive, and Keith Duncan was lights out.


Travis's Player of the Game: Keith Duncan - 4 for 4 on Field Goal Attempts with makes of 30, 44, 4, and 38, 2 for 2 on PAT


Up Next: The Northwestern Wildcats 1-5 (0-4) at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois


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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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