It is not a statistic that they put in the game report, but Iowa had plenty of missed tackles Saturday in its 27-24 loss to Purdue.
“That is what killed us today, I know it is,” junior defensive end Dominic Alvis said. “That’s what put us away.”
Purdue rolled up 490 yards on the Hawkeyes, including 223 on the ground.
Ralph Bolden ran for 102 yards, many coming after first contact.
“It’s just mental,” senior cornerback Micah Hyde said. “It comes down to players. Actually making the plays. We didn’t today.”
Some of it was just poor fundamentals, not wrapping arms around ballcarriers and taking them to the ground.
Junior linebacker James Morris said that sometimes he falls into the trap of going for “knockout” hits.
“We’ve got to finish and rally to the ball,” Morris said. “The second guy has to make sure the tackle is secure and we’ll worry about big hits later.”
Morris even thought there was at least one time where he came in second and knocked the tackler off the ballcarrier.
Iowa has now given up at least 430 yards of offense in each of their last four games — all losses.
“Poor,” Iowa caoch Kirk Ferentz said of the tackling Saturday. “You were at the game, right? That was a big part of our problems today, and you can’t play good defense if you don’t tackle well.”
<PS.FRT7.187><TH>BOFFELI GETS CHANCE: Junior offensive lineman Conor Boffeli got his first career start Saturday, taking over at left guard.
“I was anxious and excited to play,” Boffeli said. “It was my first start; I wish it would’ve gone better.”
Iowa has used Nolan MacMillan and Jordan Walsh at guard since Matt Tobin had to move out to left tackle following the injury to Brandon Scherff.
Boffeli said he had a sprained MCL a few weeks earlier and only recently got into the competition for playing time on the o-line.
“I think every week is an open competition,” Boffeli said. “The coaches look to see which guys are doing really well, putting weeks together, being consistent.”
<PS.FRT7.187><TH>LINEBACKER SHUFFLE: Junior linebacker Anthony Hitchens — the leading tackler in the Big Ten — missed part of the game due to illness.
Hitchens still had eight tackles, but redshirt freshman Travis Perry played significant snaps filling in for him.
“Coach called me in, I was ready to go in there,” Perry said. “I’m not sure what was going on with Hitch.”
Quinton Alston also got a few plays in at linebacker for Morris.
“Illness and a little bit of an injury and that type of thing,” Ferentz said of Hitchens and Morris. “That’s football.”
<PS.FRT7.187><TH>DERBY NOT FORGOTTEN: Senior Zach Derby had been the Iowa football team’s forgotten tight end until Saturday.
After playing mostly on special teams in the first nine games, Derby saw extensive action against Purdue, sharing team-high honors with four catches for 38 yards.
The former City High standout entered the game with just two catches for 10 yards.
In addition to playing tight end, Derby also lined up in the backfield on some plays and served as a lead blocker for running back Damon Bullock.
It was a way to counter being short-handed with running back Mark Weisman and fullback Brad Rogers unable to play Saturday because of injuries.
“I just think with our fullbacks going down they started playing us tight ends at fullback, so I think we’re doing a little of both,” Derby said. “It’s not too different.”
Derby caught Iowa’s final pass of the game, but he was stopped short of a first down by 2 yards after gaining just 1 yard.
Purdue then drove 37 yards in two plays to set the stage for a Paul Griggs’ 46-yard game-winning field goal.
Derby said he was instructed to run a 1-yard out pattern even though it was fourth-and-3. Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg had several options on the play, but threw to Derby, who was covered in the flat.
Receiver Kevonte-Martin Manly and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz also were receiving options on that play.
“We were trying to get some hitches with Kevonte and C.J. and I was just out in the flat,” Derby said. “I guess James thought I was the best read and we just came up short.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football