HEADLINE

No. 23 Iowa hunts for offense as Purdue visits

Field Level Media

October 15, 2019 at 9:32 pm.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he still thinks the Hawkeyes are capable of a special season.

But after scoring just one touchdown overall in back-to-back losses to ranked Michigan and Penn State, the No. 23 Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) will be looking to get their stagnant offense back on track in their homecoming game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

“I told our team this morning that a common denominator with our good teams is that when time goes on, we get better,” Ferentz said Tuesday.

“We’ve been 2-2 before and had a great season. There’s still a lot out there to be playing for, but it’s not going to happen if we don’t improve. That’s where our focus has to be.”

Turnovers and red-zone execution have been an issue in the two losses. Iowa has turned over the ball six times in its past two games and has settled for field goals in two of its past three trips inside the 20. Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley has been under pressure and not as sharp, with four interceptions over the last two games.

Injury-depleted Purdue could provide the tonic needed for Iowa to shake out of its offensive doldrums. The Boilermakers are tied for 88th in the FBS in scoring defense, allowing 29.8 points per game.

Purdue (2-4, 1-2 Big Ten) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 40-14 win over Maryland in its homecoming game last Saturday. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Plummer, making his third career start for injured starter Elijah Sindelar, completed 33 of 41 passes for 420 yards to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Plummer’s 80.5 percent completion percentage was the highest in school history for a quarterback making 40 or more pass attempts. Freshman receiver David Bell was Plummer’s favorite target, making nine catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.

“These guys throw the ball as deep as anybody we have played over the last two years,” Ferentz said

A revamped Purdue offensive line with three new starters also gave Plummer more time to throw. After being sacked 10 times during a 35-7 loss at Penn State, Plummer was sacked just once against Maryland.

“I was proud of our offensive line,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “A lot of times, you take a lot of blame when things are not going well and when things are going good, the skill players get the credit.”

The Boilermakers have dealt with injuries to key players throughout the season.

Sindelar went down with a broken clavicle on Sept. 28 against Minnesota. On the same play, Purdue lost speedy standout receiver Rondale Moore to a leg injury, and Brohm was not “real optimistic” about getting him back this week.

Purdue’s top defensive player, senior linebacker Markus Bailey, was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in practice last month. Senior defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal has yet to return after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

“It creates some challenges, but you know what, I expect our guys to compete and work hard and get better and I expect us to play better,” Brohm said.

“I expect us to take the field, and the guys that are out there want to get it done, show that they have toughness … show that they are maybe more ready than people think and go out there and compete.”