Highlights from Iowa's win over Pitt Bryon Houlgrave/The Register
Kirk Ferentz is in his 26th season on the coaching staff at Iowa. That's a lot of memories to bank on. Saturday night in Kinnick Stadium reminded Ferentz of a game 30 years earlier.
"It looked like a Rob Houghtlin moment, quite frankly, out there when he looked over at our bench," Ferentz said.
'He' was Marshall Koehn, Iowa's placekicker, who was killing time during Pittsburgh's timeout that was called to ice him. Thirty years earlier, Houghtlin's field goal on the final play gave No. 1 Iowa a 12-10 victory over No. 2 Michigan.
Three decades later, Koehn drilled a 57-yard field goal that sailed into the net behind the goalpost and gave Iowa a 27-24 victory.
Former Iowa and NFL placekicker Nate Kaeding, who has worked with Koehn, tweeted before the kick that Marshall had the leg to make it from 65 yards out. After Koehn split the uprights on the game's final play, Kaeding tweeted again: "$$."
Pass offense: Catch 22
Quarterback C.J. Beathard survived Pittsburgh's relentless blitzing to complete 27-of-40 passes for 258 yards. "If you're going to beat these guys, that's what you have to do," Ferentz said. "You have to stand in there and get the ball where it's got to go and (Beathard) did a great job of that." Five different receivers had at least 30 yards worth of catches. Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg caught seven balls, giving him a Big Ten-best 22 catches for the season. The junior had 22 career catches heading into this season. Running back Jordan Canzeri also had seven catches. Beathard also had success throwing vertically, finding Tevaun Smith for 51 yards on one play and Jacob Hillyer for 32 yards on another. Beathard also missed a deep strike to Smith in the third quarter. It looks like the deep ball is going to be part of the play-calling all season long.
Rush offense: Tough sledding
Iowa had run for more than 200 yards in the first two games. Ferentz figured it would be tough to keep that going against a Pittsburgh defense that allowed an average of 88 yards in the first two games. He was right. After having a back rush for more than 100 yards in the first two games, Iowa had 105 rushing yards as a team against Pittsburgh. Canzeri led the way with 49, including two touchdowns. Eighty-one of Iowa's 105 ground yards came in the second half, when the rush complemented Beathard's arm. The Hawkeyes ran the ball on 16 plays from scrimmage in the second half, compared to 14 passes. Iowa did a better job of picking up Pittsburgh's blitz the second half, and the offensive line did a much better job of controlling the line of scrimmage. LeShun Daniels, injured against Iowa State, carried the ball eight times. Just two of those came in the second half, when Canzeri carried the load.
Pass defense: King is king, Boyd a handful
Junior cornerback Desmond King had a pair of first-quarter interceptions, one at the back of the end zone when he cut in front of star Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd. For the game, Boyd had 10 catches for 131 yards. One of them, an 8-yard touchdown pass from Nate Peterman, tied the game with 52 seconds remaining. Peterman completed 20-of-29 passes for 219 yards.
He had two touchdown passes to match the two King picks. The Iowa secondary wasn't perfect. Peterman completed 9-of-12 passes — including a 19-yard hookup with Boyd, a 22-yard connection with Dontez Ford and a 19-yard gain to tight end J.P. Holtz on a fourth-and-15 play — on the game-tying drive. The good news? The secondary probably won't see a receiver as good as Boyd the rest of the season.
Rush defense: Too much time to throw
Iowa limited Pittsburgh, playing without reigning ACC player of the year James Conner, to just 55 yards rushing on 27 carries. That wins you a lot of games. But Iowa's defensive front put very little pressure on Peterman. He was able to stand in the pocket, scan the field and wait for receivers to come open. Iowa defensive end Nate Meier did get two sacks, the second with 1:28 to play that put the Panthers in a fourth-and-15 situation.
But Peterman found Holtz to keep the game-tying drive alive. Iowa standout defensive end Drew Ott, nursing an injured elbow, saw limited duty. He was part of Iowa's third-down Raider package, but didn't have his usual impact on the game.
Special teams: Impressive, with an oops
More positives than negatives here, though Pittsburgh did block a Dillon Kidd punt for a touchdown that tied the game 17-17 in the third quarter. "Outside of that, I think we've really made strides in our kicking game," Ferentz said. Koehn's 57-yard field goal tied a Kinnick Stadium record. He has now made seven straight field goals, and 15 of his last 16. His only miss, at Illinois last season from 46 yards, hit the upright.
That's his only miss in eight career field-goal attempts of 40 yards or more. Four of Koehn's five kickoffs were touchbacks. He also attempted his first punt, after Iowa's opening possession of the game. His rugby-style delivery went for 64 yards. Kidd was a highlight for the third consecutive game. He averaged 55.7 yards in three punts. He's turning the ball over and getting good hangtime on a consistent basis, and now averaging 49.8 yards a punt. "I think Dillon is doing a fantastic job," Ferentz said. "Our coverage has been good, and hopefully that is something we can build on, too, as we move forward."
Iowa columnist Rick Brown and Hawkeye beat reporter Chad Leistikow and Rick Brown recap Iowa's 27-24 win over Pittsburgh. David Scrivner/Iowa City Press-Citizen