Chad Leistikow and Mark Emmert look back at what worked and what didn't for Iowa following their 24-3 win over Wyoming.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Representatives from the Chargers, Ravens, Redskins and at least three additional teams were at Kinnick Stadium Saturday afternoon mostly to watch Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who some think could be the first quarterback taken at this year's draft.
Those representatives certainly saw the arm strength that makes pro scouts salivate. But as Allen played more and more against Iowa's Big Ten defense, he flashed the poor decision-making that exposed itself as a significant flaw last season.
There was a lot of Jay Cutler in Allen on Saturday.
Iowa throttled Wyoming, 24-3. Allen finished 23-for-40 for 174 yards and two fourth-quarter interceptions.
"That's probably the best defense we'll see all year," Allen said after the game.
Here are some highlights (and lowlights) from the NFL darling in Week 1:
Lots and lots of underneath routes (too many, actually): Allen could never really land a big play over the top, but he was constantly able to burn Iowa's young corners on curl routes. He relied on these plays too much, however. Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson perfectly anticipated an underneath route in the fourth quarter and picked Allen off. He returned the interception nearly 40 yards, setting up a Hawkeye field goal.
Cannon for an arm: No matter what the route, Allen's throws were always tight-spiraled daggers. Whether he was in the pocket or on the run — it didn't matter. His most impressive throw came late in the third. Allen stepped forward through a collapsing pocket and flicked a 37-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Johnson ... but Johnson dropped the pass. So it was just a very, very impressive incompletion.
Impressive ability to escape: Early in the second quarter, Allen took the snap in a shotgun set. His line quickly folded and Iowa's five-star freshman A.J. Epenesa (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) was about to log his first college sack. But Allen slipped out of Epenesa's grasp. Then Parker Hesse (6-3, 257 pounds) unsuccessfully tried to wrestle Allen down. Finally, after escaping across the width of the field, Allen was finally sacked by Iowa's preseason all-American Josey Jewell.
Worse as game wore on: Allen went 11-for-14 for 66 yards in the first half, and 12-for-26 for 108 yards and two picks in the second half. He looked comfortable in the pocket early on — an improvement from last season. But that comfort seemed to wilt as the game wore on until, ultimately, he ended his day with a what-are-you-thinking? interception to defensive lineman Brady Reiff late in the fourth quarter.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.