Digital Rewind: The masses revolt against Iowa offense

Danny Lawhon
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The old saying goes, of course, that actions speak louder than words.

Sometimes, though, the words speak in such quantity and volume that they take the powers of actions and mercilessly suffocate them into submission.

That'd have been the takeaway if you were along for this Saturday's Hawk Central live chat that accompanied Iowa's malodorous 38-31 loss at Maryland.

An altogether listless performance in the middle 45 minutes in College Park made a flying start seem a world away and largely overshadowed an inflated late flurry.

How else do you explain an afternoon in which the chat received its lowest live total viewership of the season and still elicited more than 1,400 comments?

That's 1,400, as in four digits. No other chat this year had eclipsed 920. Nor is that counting the dozens of sharp-tongued reactions that weren't even fit for online consumption.

Expert analysis? People were done silently stewing about what they clearly believe to be an inept operation on offense.

"(Hawkeyes head coach) Kirk Ferentz would rather lose with Jake Rudock than run the ball with (Mark) Weisman or take a chance with (C.J. Beathard)," chimed in one guest in the fourth quarter.

Indeed, the late-game play-calling was head-scratching, given the circumstances. Iowa was going into the wind in the fourth quarter, Weisman had just 10 carries on the day and had averaged almost 8 yards per attempt. Plus, the score was just 24-21 in the Terrapins' favor at the time.

So, naturally, Iowa began the frame with 13 consecutive pass plays, including quarterback Rudock's costly pick-six that gave Maryland a two-score cushion. Furthermore, Rudock was the Hawkeyes' lone ball carrier in the final period.

"As KF likes to say, you typically get what you deserve," said reader Norm, "and today, there is absolutely no question they deserve the L."

The whole second half brought on dozens of calls for change.

"It's time to turn the lights out on Kirk and (offensive coordinator Greg) Davis," said Ave in a comment representative of a familiar refrain. "The program needs new life and better direction."

Other replies moved toward the cleverly sarcastic.

"NFL needs Kirk," said user SparrowHawk. "Great player developer, just' can't develop a game plan …"

There was time and space for more reflection, too, including from chat regular Blitz!, but it was still layered in irritation.

"Frustrating thing is that our defense played well today. Seven points by Rudock on pick-six, fumble by Duzey, muffed punt," the reader said. "They got better as game went along, but got no support."

Thankfully, everybody gets to take another open-week break before charging into November with the Big Ten's West Division still anyone's for the taking. If the Hawkeyes run into more trouble against a familiar stumbling block in Northwestern, however, the volume knob might be cranked to the max.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Joey Galloway and Beth Mowins were back on an Iowa call for the second time this year. The pair were in Iowa City for the Ball State contest earlier this season, and the grouping didn't excite too many of the regular chat participants.

But their performance took a back seat to frequent audio issues that were plaguing the broadcast during the first quarter. I counted no fewer than a half-dozen cutouts in sound, each for at least 8 seconds or so, during the first half-hour alone.

"That's OK," quipped Moishe. "Would rather not listen to this announcing crew."

Galloway joined Iowa fans during a last-minute comeback attempt, however, as Rudock continually looked for checkdown routes down the middle as time was growing short and the Hawkeyes were without timeouts.

"There's five seconds left in the game, and you're throwing a 4-yard route. That wasn't going to accomplish what you wanted to accomplish, " Galloway said. "They just simply didn't go downfield with the football … You just have to take shots downfield, even if you don't want to, even if it's a bad situation."

HIM AGAIN?: Groans came up from commenters and Twitter personalities alike when they discovered Big Ten official Dave Witvoet was the referee. Still rankled about a 2005 overtime loss to Michigan (and other games, perhaps), more consternation came up in the second quarter.

First (and less alarming for Iowa fans) was a non-reversal of a possible Maryland fumble near the goal at the 7:30 mark. It had appeared Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown had fumbled the ball and Iowa defensive back Maurice Fleming had managed a clear recovery. But the ruling on the field held firm, and the Terrapins scored on the next play to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

The more rankling instance came on the ensuing drive, when Jordan Canzeri's 23-yard run inside the 20 was called back for a holding call that was never announced or shown on television replays. The drive immediately stalled, and Iowa went into halftime down 17-14.

"I'm starting to become perturbed by these officials," reflected chat regular BonduHawk. "A lot of questionable things happening here …"

Iowa was penalized seven times for 65 yards, Maryland six times for 50 yards.

Joey Galloway circles the matchup for Kevonte Martin-Manley against a Maryland defender in Saturday's fourth quarter. Quarterback Jake Rudock threw an interception on the play that was returned from a touchdown.

PICKING APART THE PICK-SIX: Jake Rudock's ill-fated pass for Damon Bullock resulted in a game-changing interception by William Likely. The 45-yard return out of an empty-set situation gave the Terrapins a 10-point lead that would soon extend to 17.

Galloway took Rudock for task for not noticing the proper mismatch on the quarterback's left-hand side.

"(Kevonte) Martin-Manley was inside on linebacker Matt Robinson, but down low, you have Likely, the best corner for Maryland, on Bullock, the running back," Galloway said on a replay. "He (Rudock) picked the wrong mismatch. That mismatch is in favor of Maryland. With the ball in the air, Likely makes the break … and gets it to the end zone."