Iowa Cements The Lead, Stays Undefeated

The Hawkeyes moved to 9-0 on the season, defeating the Indiana Hoosiers. Mark Schofield breaks down how Iowa cements the lead, and stays undefeated with an efficient scoring drive.

The Iowa Hawkeyes improved their record to 9-0 Saturday with a road win over the Indiana Hoosiers, keeping their playoff hopes alive for another week. Quarterback C.J. Beathard, already battling a lingering groin injury, sustained a back injury in the game on an early touchdown run. But he stayed on the field and it was his play on a crucial fourth-quarter drive that helped the Hawkeyes seal the victory.

Play Three

Following an Indiana punt, Iowa took over possession on their own 40-yard line, but, with back-to-back incompletions, face a critical 3rd and 10. Beathard lines up in the shotgun with 12 offensive personnel on the field, with a two tight ends on the right and a single receiver split left. The Hoosiers have their 4-2-5 defense in the game, showing Cover 1 and sugar the A gap pre-snap:


Indiana blitzes both linebackers, while the five secondary players stay with Cover 1.  To the right, they use an out/go combination with TE George Kittle running the out route to the flat, while the outside receiver runs a vertical route. They also use a Mills concept on the left, with the other TE running the dig route while the X receiver runs the post:


The offensive line does a good job here keeping a clean pocket; while there is some slight pressure off the edges, the QB climbs the pocket well before finding Henry Krieger Coble (#80) on the dig route right at the first down marker:

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The conversion gives the Hawkeyes a fresh set of downs right at midfield.

Play Four

Next, Iowa turns to their ground game. They put Beathard under center with 11 offensive personnel on the field, using slot formation right. On the left side, Krieger Coble lines up on the line of scrimmage, while Kittle lines up just behind the line of scrimmage in the B gap between the left tackle and left guard. The Hoosiers have their base 4-3 defense in the game, showing Cover 2:


The Hawkeyes use a power running design here with some interesting blocking angles:


Kittle comes across the flow to the right – similar to a split zone concept. But rather than blocking the backside defensive end, he blocks Adarius Rayner (#99), the defensive tackle lined up in 1 technique on the right shoulder of the center. Right guard Jordan Walsh (#65) pulls to the outside right edge to handle Nick Mangieri (#56), the backside DE. These two blocks allow right tackle Cole Croston (#64) to work into the second level, sealing off the middle linebacker:


On the playside center Austin Blythe (#63) attacks the second level, blocking the playside LB with an assist from the LT, Boone Myers (#52). LG Sean Welsh (#79) fires out to meet the playside DT while running back LeShun Daniels Jr. (#29) cuts in behind these blocks:

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Daniels rips off a 14-yard gain here, thanks in part to the well-designed and executed blocking – and some impressive strength. He does not meet contact until after five yards, when backside LB Chris Covington (#4) flows toward the ball-carrier. But the RB shows tremendous power and leg drive, carrying the LB for another seven or eight yards after contact:

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Play Six

Two plays later, the Hawkeyes face a 2nd and 9 at the Indiana 35-yard line. They line up with Beathard in the shotgun and 11 offensive personnel on the field, using a TE trips formation on the right and a single receiver on the left. Running back Derrick Mitchell Jr. (#32) checks into the game and stands to the left of the quarterback on the single-receiver side of the formation. The Hoosiers bring in their 4-2-5 nickel defense and use Cover 3 in the secondary.

The Hawkeyes use a four verticals concept here, with a slight twist:


Krieger Coble is the TE on the field as the inside trips receiver, but rather than releasing on a route, he stays in to block slot cornerback Chase Dutra (#30), who blitzes off the edge. The other two trips receivers release on vertical routes. On the backside, receiver Tevaun Smith (#4) also runs a go with an inside release. This opens up the sideline for Mitchell, who runs a wheel route toward the sideline.

Matt VandeBerg (#89) is the middle trips receiver on the right. Once he clears safety Jonathan Crawford (#9) – the underneath zone defender – Beathard uncorks a strong throw towards VandeBerg:

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The QB fits this throw into a very narrow throwing lane between the playside CB and the FS. VandeBerg secures the pass and is able to make a few defenders miss their tackles before he is finally hauled down at the 11-yard line.

Play Eight 

After a one-yard run from Daniels, the Hawkeyes face 2nd and 9 at the Indiana 10-yard line. They line up with Beathard under center and 12 package on the field, with slot formation left and two TE wing on the right. The Hoosiers have their base 4-3 defense in for this play, showing Cover 1:


Iowa show a split zone run here, with Daniels aiming for the right edge while the offensive linemen all fire out to their right in unison. Kittle is the wing TE, and he cuts toward the backside defensive end.

But he has no intention of blocking here:


Beathard opens up to his right and fakes the outside run to Daniels before peeling back and rolling out to his left. Kittle comes across the formation on a shallow crossing route and linebacker Clyde Newton (#41) is in good position to pick up the TE. But Newton slips:

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This allows Beathard to find a wide-open Kittle. From there, the big TE cuts upfield and, seeing some bodies piled near the goal-line, he gets himself airborne, crashing down into the endzone with the game-sealing touchdown.

The victory moved Iowa to 9-0 on the season, with a 5-0 record in the conference. The Hawkeyes are in great position to secure the division title down the stretch. Their favorable schedule will play a role, as they finish with home games against Minnesota and Purdue before traveling to Lincoln to take on Nebraska in the season finale. Those three squads are the bottom three teams in the Big Ten East. The path to the Big Ten title game – and a showdown with Ohio State for a possible playoff berth – is clear for Iowa.

Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.

All video and images courtesy .

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