The Register's Chad Leistikow and Rick Brown recap the Hawkeyes' 40-35 win over Minnesota.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — C.J. Beathard's health has been a weekly topic of discussion — often a detailed discussion.
Now, there's a new injury to add to the list. The Iowa junior suffered a (right) hip pointer during a quarterback sneak late in Saturday's 40-35 win over Minnesota.
“I got a helmet to the hip. Pretty bad hip pointer," Beathard said afterward. "I’ll be all right, though. It hurts pretty bad now. I’ll be sore tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
"Hip pointer" is code for "really bad and painful bruise." And this one happened just as Beathard was looking like his old self again, before he hurt his groin/hip/back/leg. He credited the training and medical staff for getting him ready each week, and they'll be busy with him again to prepare for next Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Purdue.
"Sunday (after games) is always the worst day when you get back in there," Beathard said. "You’re trying to build back up to as close to 100 percent as you can be. And today, I was pretty good.”
The Iowa quarterback looked like his early season self at times.
Beathard looked like he did in early-season games against Iowa State and Pittsburgh, using his legs to lead a first-half offensive explosion. His twisting, juking, 26-yard run late in the second quarter was all the evidence that was needed that Beathard was feeling a lot better. Iowa scored on all four of its first-half possessions — three touchdowns and a field goal — and racked up 290 yards.
Beathard had 56 of them on the ground on seven carries, reminiscent of his uncorking runs of 57 and 44 yards at Iowa State on Sept. 12.
Maybe we could've sensed this coming. Friday night on the Big Ten Network, head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked about how effective Beathard could be. His answer piqued Hawkeye fans' interest.
"The good news is, he's starting to climb the ladder," Ferentz said.
Beathard did mostly nothing for two straight weeks after getting hobbled in the 29-20 win over Illinois on Oct. 10. But he limped his way around Ryan Field during a 40-10 win over Northwestern, then took the bye week off before returning as a statue in the pocket against Maryland. A week ago at Indiana, Beathard said he felt better and showed it with a leaping touchdown run in a 35-27 win.
Beathard, by the way, is now 11-0 as a starter. But don't look for any more QB sneaks (although Ferentz said the same thing a few weeks ago about bootlegs leaving the playbook).
"I think (the bootleg)'s back in now," Ferentz said. "If he can run it, we're going to call it, believe me. But the sneaks might be off the board."
Daniels looks like No. 1 guy
LeShun Daniels Jr. made his first start in over two months Saturday night. And the junior rewarded the Iowa coaching staff with his best impression of Shonn Greene, Iowa's 2008 Doak Walker Award winner. He finished with a career-high 195 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, the last one going for a 51-yard touchdown with 2:01 remaining to put Iowa ahead 40-28.
“With a giant hole like that, we always talk about making plays in space, making plays on safeties," Daniels said. "That’s all I had to do, make one move and go.”
Daniels showed elusiveness, speed and power. His dazzling 18-yarder around the left side set Iowa up with first-and-goal at the Minnesota 4 on its first drive of the game. Two plays later, Daniels charged into the end zone from 3 yards out, thanks to a terrific block by tight end George Kittle.
Daniels began the season as Iowa's No. 1 running back. Position coach Chris White envisioned Daniels getting 20-to-25 carries a game — and Saturday, we saw why. After rushing for 123 yards on 26 carries in Iowa's opener, Daniels suffered a high-ankle sprain the next week at Iowa State. He didn't look like his old self until last week at Indiana (23 carries, 78 yards, two TDs). He looked as good as ever Saturday.
Canzeri comes back
While Daniels looked like the No. 1 guy again, Jordan Canzeri didn't show full explosiveness in his return after missing nearly three games with a "dreaded" (as Ferentz phrased it) high-ankle sprain. The fifth-year senior had 10 carries for 31 yards.
“I’m close, definitely not where I believe I can be. I’m close enough," Canzeri said. "Obviously personally, didn’t have the game I would want, but I did what I could for my team.”
Derrick Mitchell Jr. spent time as the third-down back Saturday, catching a 12-yard screen pass on third-and-9 on Iowa's first drive. That's a role Canzeri held to begin the season.
Akrum Wadley, who sprained an ankle last week at Indiana after rushing 12 times for 120 yards, was not used, even though he was cleared to play.
The senior missed the last two games with a high-ankle sprain.
Iowa's defense was as porous as it's been all season, yielding huge chunks of yardage to a Minnesota offense that ranked last in the Big Ten Conference in scoring.
New Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys might have seen something on film. Earlier this week, Claeys said ominously: "Every defense has a weakness."
The Gophers averaged a whopping 8.0 yards per play in the first half. In the fourth quarter, they ran a halfback pass for a touchdown — running back Shannon Brooks throwing 42 yards to Drew Wolitarsky with 5:32 left.
Remember last year, when Iowa's defense seemed to assist in upping the NFL stock of Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams? The Hawkeyes had trouble stopping a Gophers tight end again Saturday, particularly on the second-quarter drive that tied the score at 14-all.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner did a great job selling play-action to weak-side linebacker Cole Fisher, which left tight end Brandon Lingen wide open up the left sideline for a 40-yard touchdown that looked way too easy. Earlier in the drive, Leidner hit Lingen for 19 yards on third-and-9. Lingen entered averaging 2.4 catches a game, and he had six grabs for 105 yards.
A year ago, Williams caught three touchdowns against the Hawkeyes in a 51-14 rout in Minneapolis.
'New Kirk' strikes again
It's been a while since Iowa ran fake field goals in back-to-back weeks to start the season. After laying low for a while, "New Kirk" resurfaced Saturday night
The Hawkeyes, nursing a 33-21 lead early in the fourth quarter, ran an end-around pass from wide receiver Tevaun Smith to wide receiver Matt VandeBerg. The play worked, with Smith delivering a beautiful throw while running to his right for 21 yards. After the completion, the two players found each other and celebrated.
“When you rep it all week and he gets a chance to throw it in the game," VandeBerg said, "you’ve got to be excited.”
There's that man again
It seems like Desmond King makes at least one game-changing play a week.
Although the junior cornerback remained "stuck" on a nation-leading eight interceptions for the season, he popped a 58-yard kickoff return — a career long — after Minnesota had cut the Iowa lead to 27-21 late in the third quarter. The effort led to Beathard's second 1-yard TD run of the game.
“I had a one-on-one chance with the kicker," King said. "I made a move on him and kind of stumbled and that kind of slowed me down a little bit.”
Two weeks ago, he recorded an 88-yard pick-six against Maryland. Last week at Indiana, all King did was tie the school season interception record held by Nile Kinnick (1939) and Lou King (1981).
Iowa's offense added two touchdown drives of 90-plus yards Saturday night. That makes five for the season.
The Hawkeyes marched 91 yards on their opening drive on 17 plays, gobbling up 8:38. In the second quarter, Iowa went 97 yards on nine plays. Daniels capped both drives with TD runs.
"It's demoralizing when you're on the opposite sideline, no question," Ferentz said.
Iowa also started TD drives from inside its own 10-yard line against Illinois State (99), Iowa State (93) and Indiana (95).