Iowa football’s offense came just in time with Colorado State’s victory


Iowa hit a big milestone Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium. No, not their 10th consecutive win (only the third time in the Ferentz era) or the country’s longest non-conference winning streak (10 games).

This step will have a much bigger impact on this season. For the first time this year, the Iowa offensive has reached its quota of “explosive pieces”.

“One of our offensive goals is to have more than five explosive plays per game,” said quarterback Spencer Petras. “Lots of good plays by the receivers, good calls by coach Brian (Ferentz) and good execution up front. That sort of thing.”

The Hawkeyes made six explosive plays (over 20 yards) in their 24-14 win over Colorado State. Good news for the passing game: five of those games came from the air. Tyler Goodson (who also had a 27-yard rush), Keagan Johnson, Sam LaPorta and Nico Ragaini counted on the five receptions over 20 yards.

The featured artist of the day was the real freshman Johnson. The Bellevue, Nebraska native recorded his first career catch: a 43-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter where he won in singles coverage. Later in the quarter, Johnson hit a 49-yard reception.

He led all receivers in yards (92) on just two catches.

“Keegan is a really talented guy,” said Petras. “Anytime I have this guy one-on-one it’s something I’m going to watch. He did a great job beating his guy and passing him so it’s a good game of his. go.”

The second score in the air came in a different way. Iowa aired a few tunnel screens last week and took the opportunity to be filmed this week. They ran a false screen midway through the third quarter, little Colorado State, and left LaPorta wide open for the go-ahead, 21-14.

“It was kind of one of those sleight of hand that we put together at the start of the week,” LaPorta said. “I saw it as a post-security zone. I saw the security that should have covered me drive over the ball that should have gone to the tunnel screen. It’s all about timing, you feel the stopwatch in your head and slip the seam and I was wide open. “

Petras attributed Colorado State’s defensive strategy to Iowa’s great playing chances. The Rams set out to stop the hasty attack on Iowa. They loaded the box, made big blitzes and mostly played a defense of Cover 1, which left cornerbacks in head-to-head clashes.

“If you play Cover 1, we have guys who can win games,” said Petras. “It feels good to hit a few of them and it’s something that we have to keep working hard on. I think we’ve made good progress in hitting a few of them, if they are. there we have to hit them. These are huge games in a game. ”

Iowa junior tight end Sam LaPorta, right, and wide receiver Jackson Ritter celebrate after LaPorta scored a third quarter touchdown against Colorado State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa on Saturday, September 25, 2021.

For where the Hawkeyes are this season, this breakout performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

The peak offense has been a concern this season. It’s fair to assume that opposing teams will continue to sell by stopping the run and forcing Iowa to be more aggressive in the air to move the ball. Fans were hoping to see more of this aspect as the Big Ten game quickly approached.

Saturday afternoon, it showed. Without a doubt, this builds the confidence of everyone involved and perhaps a sign of what will come next if the Iowa offense is to continue to progress.

“It will help us if we can mix them up,” Ferentz said. “It always makes things better, the blanket has to help you out a bit. Our guys had a few there and then had a breakdown on the one Sam had but yeah, (Petras) did some good things there- low.”

Petras led the Hawkeyes to 10 straight wins and until Saturday he did so mostly without a turnover. This is rewarded with more confidence from the coaches and therefore more opportunities in the passing game.

The hope is that the peak offensive will happen. But there will be games where the balance falls on Petras’ arm and his ability to push the offense forward through big plays.

As Big Ten’s nemesis Maryland looms on Friday, there is hard evidence that Iowa’s explosive game potential is there.

“I think we left a few over there,” said Petras. “We have a bunch of hungry guys who train really well and work hard. I have no doubt that we will continue to work hard and the results are a by-product. They will show up.”

Kennington Smith is the Iowa Hawkeyes beat writer for Hawk Central. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at [email protected]

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