Iowa’s offensive struggles have been magnified by the current two-game losing streak, but if you’re expecting some massive overhaul over the final four weeks of the season, it’s not going to happen.
“Changing your system wholesale in the season, that would be counterproductive,” coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday. “And you can’t go out and get mercenary players, that’s not part of the deal in college football. You just try to forge ahead.”
Besides, quarterback Spencer Petras said, it’s about making minor corrections heading into Saturday’s game at Northwestern.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to continue to chop away,” Petras said. “It all comes down to execution and fundamentals. I know you guys probably get tired of hearing that, but it’s the truth.
“We talk a lot about the stone cutter out there chopping on a rock. It takes a hundred blows to break the rock, knowing it wasn’t the hundredth that broke it, but it was the 99 that came before. That’s kind of where we’re at. There’s a lot of examples of good football on tape, and examples of bad. It’s little things here and there that get you beat.”
The Hawkeyes have scored just 14 points in the last two games, losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. Iowa ranks 124th in the FBS play in total offense, 104th in passing offense and 118th in rushing offense.
Those numbers have gained more attention with the two losses after a six-game winning streak to open the season.
“It’s consistency at all 11 spots,” Petras said. “If you have 10 guys doing their job, and one doesn’t, a play is going to get blown up, it’s dead. Everybody has plays where they do well, but it’s not a collective unit yet consistently. Once we do that consistently, we’ll be happy with the results we get.”
Ferentz talked about how every season has “twists and turns” and the Hawkeyes have certainly hit a chicane.
“I can’t think of any (season) that didn’t have bumps or adversity along the way,” Ferentz said. “That’s the great thing about sports, and in life. How are you going to handle the bumps when they come? If they don’t come, it’s wonderful. But that’s usually not real-life, and it’s certainly not college football too often, at least not for us.”
“Nobody likes losing, especially this team, the way we started hot like we did,” running back Tyler Goodson said. “Losing to Purdue, and then coming out of the bye week and losing to Wisconsin, that wasn’t a good feeling.”
The Hawkeyes were drawing on history lessons — Goodson went back to last season’s 0-2 start that was forgotten when Iowa won the next six games to close the shortened schedule.
“Last year we lost two in a row, and then we came back and we delivered,” Goodson said. “We definitely have the capability to keep pushing through adversity.”
The one thing the Hawkeyes can’t do, Goodson said, is press during games.
“When you force the issue, it causes guys to tense up,” Goodson said. “It causes the offense to fail as a whole. This game is hard, and we understand that. Not every game is going to be successful, not every game is going to be a big play-making game. We have to relax, not get out of character, and play our game.”
The schedule is down to its final third of the season, and while it feels like time is running out, Goodson said there is still good that can come.
“It’s frustrating we’re not doing what we can do on offense, but we know what we’re capable of,” he said. “And we’re capable of going in and winning the next four games.”
The road, Ferentz said, tends to straighten at some point.
“I feel like we’ve been able for the most part to find a solution, somehow or some way, fairly consistently,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do right now — find a solution.”