Status report: Sluggish stats, but unbeaten with ease
IOWA CITY, Ia. — LeShun Daniels was the subject of some good-natured ribbing this week.
“The coaches were making jokes and stuff about how he (his younger brother, offensive lineman James) had gotten more reps than me,” LeShun said. “But it was all in good fun.”
James Daniels, a true freshman, started the Northwestern game at guard and has also seen significant action at tackle this season. LeShun was the starter in the opener against Illinois State, but suffered a high-ankle sprain the following week at Iowa State and hasn’t been effective since.
After sitting out the last two games and a bye week, Daniels looked like his own self in Saturday’s 31-15 victory against Maryland. He scored the Hawkeyes’ first touchdown and rushed for 60 yards in 13 carries.
“It’s just a blessing, and I was thankful to get out there,” Daniels said.
Pass offense: Beathard remains slowed
C.J. Beathard passed for 183 yards against a Maryland defense that was allowing 172.4 a game coming in. Beathard was sacked four times and completed just 12 of 23 attempts. Still nursing a groin injury, Beathard didn’t have the escapability he normally does, either. He got sacked four times.
“He’s certainly better off than he was after the last game, but he’s not going to be full-speed or totally healthy the rest of the season,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But that’s probably true of all our guys.”
When Beathard completed a pass, it was usually for a sizable gain. Tight end George Kittle had a 26-yard circus catch. Matt VandeBerg had a catch for 23 yards. Tevaun Smith had one for 21 yards. And Derrick Mitchell went 19 yards on another. Jacob Hillyer, Henry Krieger-Coble and Jerminic Smith also had catches that went for double figures.
Rush offense: Sharing the load on modest day
Akrum Wadley and Daniels got a significant share of the work. Wadley finished with a team-high 67 yards in 19 carries. A different running back scored Iowa’s first three touchdowns — Daniels, Wadley and Derrick Mitchell, Jr.
“All three of us were pretty juiced after that,” Daniels said.
Iowa finished for just 110 yards rushing, the second-lowest total this season. The Hawkeyes managed just 105 yards in 29 carries against Pittsburgh. Also factoring into Saturday’s low rushing number is Maryland’s 10 tackles for a loss, totaling 40 yards.
Iowa had its entire offensive line together for the first time in a Big Ten game this season. Left offensive tackle Boone Myers, injured in the first half against North Texas Sept. 26, returned to the lineup. Cole Croston, who had replaced him at left tackle, moved to right tackle in place of the injured Ike Boettger.
Rush defense: Sub-100 streak ends
Iowa allowed a 100-yard rusher for the first time this season. Doing the honors was Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, who gained 104 yards in a team-high 19 carries. Hills cracked the 100-yard mark for the third straight game. He had 170 yards in a 49-28 loss at Ohio State and 124 yards in a 31-30 loss to Penn State.
Iowa entered the game third nationally in rushing defense at 74.1 yards a game. Maryland finished with 167 yards, the most the Hawkeyes have surrendered in a Big Ten game this season. Wisconsin managed 86 yards, Illinois had 46 and Northwestern 51. Hills gained 24 yards on one carry, Brandon Ross went 23 on another and Wes Brown had a long run of 19.
The Hawkeyes, already playing without defensive end Drew Ott, had the injury bug bite that position again Saturday. Left defensive end Nate Meier was injured in the fourth quarter. Meier came to the postgame interview room with a sling on the left arm, but declined to be specific about his injury. Meier had a sack and two tackles for a loss against the Terrapins.
Pass defense: Maryland's misery continues
Desmond King picked up his seventh interception of the season, returning it for a game-clinching, 88-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The school record of eight interceptions is held by Lou King and Nile Kinnick.
King also leads the Big Ten in interceptions. The last Hawkeye to lead the conference in interceptions was Tyler Sash in 2009, with six.
Maryland entered the game 126th out of 127 FBS teams in turnover margin at minus-13. And then the Iowa secondary added to the misery. Jordan Lomax and Miles Taylor also had interceptions. Maryland also fumbled twice, losing one. The Terrapins’ turnover margin is now minus-16.
Special teams: Hidden value for Kidd, Koehn
Marshall Koehn doubled his pleasure in the fourth quarter. He made a 44-yard field goal that was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty. No problem. He drilled a 49-yarder on the next play to put Iowa in front 24-7. Koehn missed a 45-yarder on Iowa’s first possession of the game.
Dillon Kidd continues to be one of the biggest comeback stories of this season. His 37.4-yard average on five punts doesn’t catch your eye. But three of those punts were downed inside the 20. One of them was downed at the Terrapins’ 2 late in the first half. Iowa forced Maryland’s Nicolas Pritchard to punt from his own end zone 3 players later, and Iowa’s Aaron Mends blocked it.
Iowa took over at its own 19 with 61 seconds remaining in the half, and scored six plays later on Mitchell’s 2-yard run to take a 21-0 lead into halftime.