After a 22-point loss to Maryland two weeks ago, IU defensive coordinator Brian Knorr knew the problem.
There were too many explosive plays. These were plays he defined as passes more than 15 yards and runs more ?than 12.
“Our goal is six or less to be successful,” Knorr said.
Against Maryland, the Hoosiers gave up 10 explosive plays.
Against Iowa (5-1, 2-0) on Saturday, the Hawkeyes scored on plays of 72 and 60 yards in a 45-29 win against the Hoosiers (3-3, 0-2) at Kinnick Stadium.
Both of those touchdowns came in the first quarter, and an early 21-point deficit was too much for the Hoosier offense to come back from.
“When there was an opportunity to make a play, those guys made it,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “They made significant more plays than us, and that’s the difference in scoring. That’s the difference in the game.”
After allowing 38 points and 300 yards in the first half, the Hoosier defense gave up just seven points and 126 yards in the second half.
But the Hoosiers couldn’t overcome missed opportunities in the first two quarters on both sides of the ball.
On first-and-10 from the Iowa 43-yard line, IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw a nearly perfect pass to Shane Wynn that would’ve been a sure ?touchdown.
Wynn dropped the pass, and IU failed to score on the drive.
Earlier in the game, Sudfeld threw an interception at his own 35-yard line, resulting in a Iowa touchdown to put the Hoosiers down 13-0.
“We’re playing uphill because of the start of the game,” Wilson said. “They score, we give them a pick-six. But as you weather the storm and get back into it, the onside kick opportunity, the dropped pass opportunity, you got a chance to make a stop on fourth down and we didn’t.”
Aside from a few critical big plays, the Hawkeye offense moved the ball methodically down the field, eating up time and keeping the IU offense off the field.
Iowa kept the ball for 35:20, compared to IU’s 24:40 time of possession.
Senior linebacker David Cooper said it came down to a few plays where the defense wasn’t playing as 11 players together.
“They just caught us on a few plays, missed communication and busted coverage,” he said. “It just all boils down to stopping big plays.”
Offensive plays were also what kept IU in the game.
Junior running back Tevin Coleman scored on runs of 45 and 69 yards. His 83-yard touchdown in the first quarter was the longest of his ?career.
That play came during a span of less than four minutes when the two teams combined for 35 points.
An Iowa touchdown with no time left in the first half put the game out of hands.
On fourth-and-goal Iowa running back Mark Weisman ran the ball in from one yard out, giving the Hawkeyes momentum going into the half .
“That was real big,” Cooper said. “We just had to bow down. We did on the first try they had, and the second time we just didn’t bow down as well.”