The Iowa Hawkeyes played admirably against Northern Illinois but will have to reduce its mistakes against Football Championship Subdivision foe Missouri State.
To open the college football season eight Football Bowl Subdivision teams lost against FCS teams — including Northern Iowa’s win over Iowa State.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have never lost to an FCS opponent.
This game however, is important for other reasons. Most notably, it’s a matchup where Iowa’s young team can rebound and move on from its 30-27 opening season loss to Jordan Lynch and the Huskies.
The Hawkeyes played a solid game against Northern Illinois but their inexperience in late game situations cost them a win. If Iowa avoids playing down to Missouri State’s level on Saturday, they should be able to continue on improving and refining what made them successful against NIU.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock was a pleasant surprise for Hawkeye fans that were worried all offseason as to who would lineup under center. In his first collegiate game Rudock showed poised in the pocket and gave Iowa faithful glimpses of his rocket arm.
The Weston, Florida native will undoubtedly struggle as the season wears on and he begins to line up across from Big Ten defenses but is main goal should be to just improve each and every game.
Against the Bears, Rudock will have to show the coaching staff that he can avoid throwing too many interceptions.
Rudock is one of the focal points of the passing game offensive coordinator Greg Davis hopes to implement this season. Davis knows however, that he will still have to rely on the ground game to bail out his rookie quarterback when he can’t find his rhythm.
Last season the Hawkeyes could barely field a reliable running back, but this year they have both Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock healthy and Jordan Canzeri as a third option.
In the past few years the NFL has moved to a two running back system. In having two running backs, one can be the workhorse or goal line back and the other can be the speedster or the home run hitter.
It looks like Iowa has both.
Mark Weisman was one of few Hawkeyes last year that could help move the chains and score touchdowns. In ten games Weisman gained 815 yards while contributing 8 touchdowns.
Bullock was solid too before he went down with an injury — in just six games he ran for 513 yards and three touchdowns.
The problem is that neither ran for a touchdown against the Huskies.
Both backs were able to move the chains well and showed why their a dynamic tandem but for the Hawkeyes to win more games than they did last season, they’ll have to find the endzone.
Iowa is seeking a better record than last year but to do so they’ll have to forget about NIU and focus on Missouri State.