Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz knows his team leads the nation with fewest turnovers (1) through four games. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Iowa Hawkeyes had 14 offensive possessions to do something, anything, against the Michigan defense Saturday.
Iowa spent as much time moving backward as forward, walking out of Michigan Stadium with a frustrating 10-3 loss before an announced crowd of 111,519.
No. 18 Michigan (4-1, 2-1 Big Ten Conference) dialed up a ferocious pass rush and won 10-3 despite not scoring after the first quarter. For No. 14 Iowa (4-1, 1-1), it was a matter of negative plays souring every chance it was given. And there were plenty.
The Hawkeyes committed eight penalties. They punted seven times. Quarterback Nate Stanley was sacked eight times.
It was a staggeringly poor performance on that side of the ball.
Here's what we learned:
Hawkeyes start coughing up the football
Iowa entered Saturday with only one turnover in its first four games. The Hawkeyes matched that number on the first snap. Mekhi Sargent took a handoff at his 21-yard line, ran into the middle of the line and promptly fumbled. Iowa’s defense held Michigan to a field goal.
Things were about to get worse. Stanley had eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in the first four games. The Wolverines picked him off three times. The worst throw was the first, when Stanley locked on his receiver and apparently didn’t notice Josh Metellus lurking to make an easy interception at the Michigan 31-yard line.
It was an unusually poor performance by an Iowa offense that prides itself on taking care of the football.
Alaric Jackson returns, but not to top form
Hawkeyes junior offensive tackle Alaric Jackson started a game for the first time since he injured his knee early in the season opener. But Jackson, a future NFL player, was not at his best in front of his home state crowd.
He was victimized on a first-quarter sack of Stanley by Kwity Paye. He was flagged for a costly fourth-quarter holding penalty. And he couldn’t help an Iowa ground game get going against a Michigan defense that was allowing 168 rushing yards per game. Iowa had 15 negative-yardage plays all season heading into this game. The Hawkeyes had six in the first half alone Saturday.
Coaches have trust in Goodson
After the Sargent fumble, it was true freshman Tyler Goodson who got the next crack at playing running back, a sign of how much faith he has earned in his young career.
Goodson showed he has some work to do in pass protection. But he continued to show that he’s the most elusive of Iowa’s running back quartet. He caught passes that gained 15 and 11 yards, and also had a 12-yard rush in the first. In the fourth quarter, Goodson lined up wide and caught a 31-yard pass.
Goodson is the future for Iowa’s backfield. Maybe even the immediate future.
Iowa's defense shows its teeth
The Hawkeyes allowed a single touchdown drive against a Michigan offense with a senior quarterback in Shea Patterson and some explosive playmakers at wide receiver.
That was one too many, as it turned out, but you certainly can’t blame this defeat on the defense.
Junior safety Geno Stone was all over the field, making a terrific backpedaling interception on Patterson and showing strong run support. Junior defensive end Chauncey Golston, a Detroit native, turned in his best game of the year, not only recording his first sack when he brought down Patterson with a single hand, but making six other tackles.
Iowa has allowed 44 points in five games. That’s good enough to be undefeated.
Iowa next hosts Penn State.
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
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