Iowa Football vs. Rutgers Preview

Three video games into the 2022 season, Iowa’s standing within the Big Ten West hierarchy is much more muddled than earlier than the 12 months started. While the Hawkeyes seem to have assembled yet one more championship-caliber protection, the offense stays very a lot a piece in progress even after displaying its first indicators of life in final week’s 27-0 victory over Nevada. Still, a workforce’s fortunes are decided as a lot by the standard of their competitors as their very own talent degree. Wisconsin was the preseason betting favourite to win the division however appeared underwhelming in its week 2 loss to Washington State and isn’t on the extent of lots of the Badger groups which have gotten the very best of the Hawkeyes in recent times. Minnesota is the division’s solely 3-0 workforce however has but to play an opponent able to placing up a struggle. Purdue, a sleeper to win the division, is 1-2, as is Northwestern, who gained its first convention recreation in week 0 earlier than continuing to lose to Duke and Southern Illinois. Nebraska is in full meltdown mode and Illinois is…effectively…Illinois. Iowa’s offensive development could also be considerably not on time, however all of the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten ambitions stay very a lot in play.

Iowa wants to begin its convention play on a powerful word with this week’s street journey to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are removed from world beaters however are 3-0 this 12 months and are not the doormat they was once due to the return of coach Greg Schiano. With tough convention video games in opposition to Michigan and Ohio State on the horizon, Iowa can not afford to depart New Jersey with a loss if it hopes to contend for the Big Ten West crown this season.

Here are three key components to observe for in Saturday’s recreation:

1. Can Iowa set up the run?

There is motive for slight optimism surrounding the Iowa operating recreation. Freshman operating again Kaleb Johnson put collectively the Hawkeyes’ finest particular person offensive efficiency final week, dashing for 103 yards and two touchdowns in opposition to the Wolfpack. Meanwhile, Iowa may have its full secure of backs wholesome and accessible for the primary time all season this week, with Gavin Williams lastly at full pace and Leshon Williams again within the fold after lacking the Nevada recreation. Yet there’s additionally motive for warning. Watching Johnson’s lengthy landing runs (0:38 and 4:40 within the clip under), it is noticeable simply how a lot better the blocking is on these performs than mainly any others Iowa has run this season. Iowa’s offensive line struggles are very obvious when learning the workforce’s operating performs, and the Hawkeyes averaged solely 2.03 yards per carry in opposition to Nevada outdoors Johnson’s two huge performs.

Iowa’s floor recreation will face its hardest check of the season thus far this week, as Rutgers statistically has the twon.d finest dashing protection within the nation. The Scarlet Knights have allowed solely 97 dashing yards by way of three video games and are surrendering a mere 1.09 yards per carry. Unlike some groups whose rush protection statistics are inflated by sacks, Rutgers has been a middle-of-the-pack go dashing workforce thus far, bringing the quarterback down solely six instances. Rutgers’ rating as an elite run protection has been earned the laborious means: by grinding opposing operating video games to a halt. Linebacker Deion Jennings has led the way in which as a run stopper and has actually grown into himself as a senior, and defensive linemen Aaron Lewis and Ifeanyi Maijeh have been disruptive as effectively. Rutgers will doubtless look to overload Iowa’s offensive line with inventive blitz packages and a wholesome dose of security Avery Young crashing the field. Whether Iowa’s operating backs could make performs in opposition to a disciplined run protection, or whether or not Iowa’s line can create operating lanes for them within the first place, stays to be seen.

If Iowa can run the ball successfully, it’ll make life considerably simpler for quarterback Spencer Petras as he works to develop chemistry with Iowa’s wholesome(ish) receiving corps. Defensive finish Wesley Bailey has emerged as an efficient go rusher who will pose a problem for Iowa’s tackles, and the Rutgers secondary led by Robert Longerbeam has confirmed adept at selecting off passes, snagging 5 interceptions by way of three video games. If Iowa’s operating recreation stalls out, the Hawkeyes may change into reliant on Petras to win the sport together with his arm, a prospect that has generated lower than fascinating outcomes thus far this 12 months.

2. Can Iowa’s entrance seven dominate the sport?

Fortunately for Iowa followers, their workforce will not be the one squad taking the sphere in Piscataway with lingering questions alongside the offensive line. The Scarlet Knights’ entrance 5 appeared overwhelmed in opposition to Temple, surrendering eight tackles for loss and permitting constant stress on the quarterback. The offensive line was a serious query for Rutgers getting into the season, and Schiano’s patchwork unit constructed partly by way of the switch portal may wrestle to include a Hawkeye line of defense that has wreaked havoc on opponents by way of three video games.

Iowa’s linebackers will equally play an enormous position in containing the Scarlet Knight assault. Rutgers is averaging the third most dashing yards within the convention with 227.33 per recreation due to a stable group of operating backs and the inventive deployment of jack-of-all-trades participant Johnny Langan. No matter who begins at quarterback on Saturday (Nebraska switch Noah Vedral, freshman Gavin Wimsatt, and Evan Simon are all within the combine because of a number of accidents on the place), the Scarlet Knights may have a sign caller who can run the soccer. Still, Iowa’s linebacking corps, which must be boosted by the return of Jestin Jacobs, ought to have loads of alternatives to disrupt Rutgers’ offense, significantly if the entrance 4 does their job.

3. Which workforce can win the sport on the margins?

Special groups, subject place, and penalties play necessary roles in each soccer recreation, however may very well be particularly essential to this matchup given the same kinds of play of each groups. Iowa’s final matchup in opposition to Rutgers produced what we at BHGP christened as “The Greatest Punting Battle in History.” Rutgers’ star punter Adam Korsak remains to be with the workforce and nonetheless excelling at pinning opponents deep, having not allowed a touchback in “roughly 136 makes an attempt,” whereas Iowa’s Tory Taylor had a formidable 13 of his 23 punts downed contained in the 20 this 12 months. . Both groups’ punters and gunners ought to be capable to create lengthy fields for the opposing offense, that means the workforce that may management subject place by forcing turnovers and sustaining drives that escape the shadow of their very own endzone may have the benefit. Both groups have thrived on creating turnovers in recent times, and whereas Iowa has struggled to place collectively lengthy scoring drives, Rutgers has not confirmed they’ll go the size of the sphere in opposition to a protection of Iowa’s caliber.

The intangible that the majority favors Iowa on this recreation is arguably the disparity in penalties dedicated by every workforce. Iowa has been one of many cleanest groups in soccer, sacrificing solely 21.7 yards to penalties per recreation, the second fewest within the nation. Rutgers, in the meantime, is giving up over 3x as a lot yardage per recreation at 73.3, the 107th finest within the sport In a recreation the place subject place may very well be a deciding issue, Iowa’s clear benefit within the penalty division may finally give it the sting.

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