Lowdermilk's play worthy of praise vs. Northwestern

Chad Leistikow
Iowa's Andrew Donnal lifts Mark Weisman after a touchdown against Northwestern in the first half Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – For all the criticism thrown John Lowdermilk's way on social media and message boards, the Iowa strong safety might be his own worst critic.

Three weeks ago, he famously said he should've been benched after the Hawkeyes' 45-29 win against Indiana.

On Saturday, though, the senior from Carrollton, Ohio, deserved praise. He led the team with 12 tackles, broke up a pass and forced a fumble in the Hawkeyes' 48-7 blowout of Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium.

About that forced fumble, the first of Lowdermilk's career?

On the play, Northwestern's Kyle Prater caught a pass over the middle for 14 yards and was rattled by a Lowdermilk hit. Greg Mabin recovered the loose ball – the fumble was upheld after a video review – and Iowa punched in a half-ending touchdown by Mark Weisman for a 38-7 lead.

Great play, right? Nah, Lowdermilk said – he should've had an interception.

"We had a certain coverage called where any inside route, I was breaking on it," Lowdermilk said. "I was late on it. If I was reading my keys, I probably should've picked it. But I just got my head on the ball and jarred it loose, and thankfully we recovered it."

Lowdermilk is the guy who inexplicably dropped the football at the 1-yard line to negate a 72-yard touchdown against LSU in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. He also downed a made-for-six interception against Purdue earlier this year on purpose, because he had too much respect for Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell.

Some fans have railed on Lowdermilk for blown coverages and missed tackles this season. The howls were persistent in the wake of that Indiana game, in which the Hoosiers' Tevin Coleman unleashed three long touchdown runs and more than 200 rushing yards against the Hawkeye secondary. That's when Lowdermilk said, "I just played pretty terrible today. … I probably should have been benched."

Will Saturday's performance silence some of the critics? Or at least his self-criticism?

"I wouldn't bench myself today, if that's what you're asking," he said. "I still have a lot of stuff to improve on.

"The key for everybody now is to keep a level head and not get too high after this win."