Iowa 7, Minnesota 0: What we learned in the first half
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa leads Minnesota, 7-0, at halftime of the battle for Floyd of Rosedale.
Here's what we learned:
The Hawkeyes' defense has been clutch: Twice, Iowa turned Minnesota over in the red zone. On the Gophers' second possession, it forced a turnover on downs on its own 14 after a 6 minute, 13-second drive. And Jake Gervase intercepted Demry Croft in the end zone the following drive after Minnesota had marched to Iowa's 6-yard line. Despite not much help from the offense, the Hawkeyes defense has held the Gophers scoreless with 138 total yards in 16 minutes and 16 seconds on the field. They've bent a bit against Minnesota's running back tandem of Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks (85 yards on 16 carries), but they've stifled Croft to the tune of 46 yards on 5-of-18 passing.
Other than the first drive, Iowa's offense hasn't been so clutch: Iowa assembled a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive during its first possession. Since that drive: 98 yards, 0-for-6 on third downs, five punts, an interception and a fumble. Nate Stanley is 9-for-16 for 96 yards. Akrum Wadley has 39 yards on six carries.
Punting? Still not ideal: It appeared Ryan Gersonde, the 6-foot-4 freshman from Milwaukee, was "the guy" at punter for Iowa. He didn't do anything in the first half to inspire much confidence, though. He logged four punts: 39 yards, 39 yards (called back after offsetting flags), 37 yards, 50 yards (rolled the final 15 after favorable bounce) and 39 yards. Then, Colton Rastetter came in for the final punt of the first half. His rugby-style boot netted 47 yards and pinned Minnesota at its 12-yard line.
James Butler is back: Bye-bye, medical redshirt. Kirk Ferentz said before the game that we'd likely see Butler, and we did. He carried the ball three times for 1 yard. He had a 19-yard catch-and-run before fumbling late in the second 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_.