# 5 Iowa Hawkeye vs Colorado State Rams Movie Breakdwon
“There have been some ups and downs with that for sure, but especially in the third quarter we saw some growth and some good things.” -Kirk Ferentz
The first half drew nearly 70,000 fans to Kinnick Stadium and many more across the country holding their breath as a late turnaround led to a Colorado State touchdown and lead. at halftime. The Iowa offense showed some big plays, lousy plays and everything in the first half. For the first time this season, the defense looked vulnerable before locking down the Rams in the second half.
The new 6 for 6
Keagan Johnson has received high praise from the Iowa coaching staff since arriving in Iowa City in January. The real freshman from Bellevue, Nebraska had a major impact with his first two receptions for over 40 yards.
Facing 2nd and 10th, Iowa lined up with two tight ends in a solid formation. Colorado State had brought all defenders to the line of scrimmage the entire game in an effort to control Iowa’s running play. Their two safeties are set before engagement within 10 meters of the balloon. To hit big, Iowa used a favorite call, 4-greens, and took advantage of Colorado state’s two safeties by drawing too much attention to Sam LaPorta. The two safeties remained inside, the talented tight end leaving Johnson 1 to 1 on the perimeter. The corner kick gave him a free clearance and Johnson, who Nico Ragaini mentioned as the team’s fasting player this week, passed the defender. It was a perfect pick, route and pass to lead to Johnson’s young career first touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, Iowa returned to the same lineup to isolate Johnson on the outside. Colorado State’s defense once again has everyone without 10 yards and safeties have focused on LaPorta.
Knowing the speed and deep playing ability of Keagan Johnson, the Colorado State cornerback tries to get a quick block on the line of scrimmage. Johnson uses a quick cut to avoid jamming and get a clean interior clearance. As LaPorta crosses the field, the safety of the play side follows him to the limit, leaving the midfield wide open for Johnson. With safety tightened, Petras is able to set foot and deliver another perfect down pass.
Johnson wasn’t the only Hawkeye to benefit from the downstream pass from Iowa. For the second week in a row, Spencer Petras has found Nico Ragaini for a big game. Seeming like a record broken, the two safeties once again focus on Sam LaPorta’s exit route, leaving the Ram’s defensive backs on an island. outside.
Iowa’s outside receivers execute a shattering corner concept with the outside receiver performing a quick hitch route to keep that cornerback short leaving the wide, deep side of the field open. Ragaini cleverly worked an outside clearance before pulling in an incredible grip turning back and forth to follow the ball.
After a first half of slow developing racing games and screens on the 3rd downs or after big games, Iowa got more aggressive in the second half. After getting a first try following defensive pass interference on a pitch to Ragaini, Brian Ferentz called on his block in the Rams’ defense by aggressively attacking the Iowa tunnel screen.
LaPorta begins by attacking the corner of the slot as if he is going to block. Just before blocking he walks past all of the defenders running towards Tyrone Tracy Jr. At this point the whole stadium has had time to stand up and cheer before Petras lifts the ball up for what is likely the touchdown. the easiest of his career.
Opposing defenses continue to push the limits by putting 8 or more defenders in the box. While this stresses Iowa’s running game and limits the offensive line’s ability to generate a consistent push, it opens the door to some big plays.
Following another turnover created by the defense, Iowa once again benefits from an aggressive defensive plan. With Tyler Goodson on the move, the sprint to the limit goes to the linebacker on the field as well as safety on the field. As Petras fakes the swing pass to Goodson, Tracy looped back to Petras for the end. Jackson Ritter crashes his defender into the ground and from there it’s a race to the end zone between Tracy and two defenders catching up from the start. The player who came closest to Tracy was the safety who started moving with Goodson across the field before the snap.
With Iowa using two tight ends and a fullback, Colorado State is charging 9 defensemen into the box. Iowa positions LaPorta and Pottebaum in line with the field (wide side) and Lachey towards the limit. The textbooks blocking the play side of Linderbaum, Ince, Richman and Lachey open a hole for Goodson. He is aided by perfect rear cutting blocks from Plumb and LaPorta. The blocking is so good that right guard Kyler Schott goes through as the main blocker with no one to touch. Having that many defenders on the line leads to a big run for Goodson once he crosses the initial line.
Iowa will need to continue to be patient with their running game knowing that big plays happen between all short runs due to overcrowded defensive boxes.
Special teams effort
The Iowa special teams did almost everything right in 2021. From Tory Taylor and Terry Roberts to Caleb Shudak and Charlie Jones, Iowa special teams players have made a name for themselves for their excellence.
I want to add another name to this list for his effort on a big Charlie Jones punt return in the third quarter with the game tied 14-14. As Jones cuts all the ground from his own 20-yard line, Dallas Craddieth sprints to nearly 30 yards to provide a key block to ignite Jones and settle Iowa in Rams territory.
Craddieth came to Iowa as a highly regarded security recruit, but has yet to cross both depths. While many in this situation were transferred trying to find greener pastures, Craddieth remained in Iowa and became a staple of several Hawkeye special team units. Not only did he sprint all over the court with Jones, but he cleverly blocked while avoiding a return penalty or a block in the back.
Can we please get a flag?!?!
The first half saw the Rams go 9-13 for 3rd, many of those conversions being in long-distance situations. This was greatly facilitated by the fact that the Big Ten officials team swallowed their whistles as the offensive lineman pulled and tackled the Iowa defensive lineman on nearly every big play in the first. half time. I’m still figuring out who had the most tackles between Jack Campbell and the CSU offensive line. At this point, he’s too close to call.
Speaking of Campbell, his 18 tackles are obvious, but it was his cover job that stood out when I saw him again. Campbell is known for his relentless effort and incredible straight-line speed for a guy his size. During that game, he was a key factor in Iowa’s defense and his ability to limit big plays to Trey McBride and the other Ram wide receivers crossing the field after some game action.
Campbell does a great job plotting the crossing roads and tying to the inner hip. From there, he uses his frame and long arms to break the pass while avoiding having to grab the outer hip and get a pass interference call.
Oh, and it’s now three straight games with a fumble recovery. Campbell is absolutely everywhere during these games.
Come back and get rewarded
Zach VanValkenburg was the only returning starter on the defensive line who chose to take an extra year of eligibility due to the shortened 2020 season. While earning a few All-B1G honors in 2020, VanValkenburg continued to build his draft supply with a solid 2021. He’s been all over the pitch this year playing behind the line of scrimmage. I bring up all of this because you might think it would lead to the offensive play caller wanting to account for it during the game, but CSU decided to leave him unlocked as a read defender twice ….. it did not go well. for them.
After the Iowa touchdown, Colorado State started their run in midfield due to two penalties. After gaining 7 yards on the first down, they were set up with the 2nd and 3rd looking to tie Iowa’s touchdown with one of their own.
I mentioned the push from the inside defensive line this season in passing situations, but the constant push from the four defensive linemen also ruined the opponent’s games. The Rams are capable of picking up two yards on the second down, placing third and just ahead of that exceptional defensive position to retrieve the ball. This game was the best yet for the rotation of Iowa defensive tackles from Noah Shannon, Logan Lee, Lukas VanNess and Yahya Black. The performances of the two saves, VanNess and Black, stand out during this three-game streak.