By Mike Thayer
Against Michigan State, Iowa’s Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis gave up on Iowa’s strength, the run.
Coming into the game, the Iowa offense had averaged over 200 yards per game running the ball.
Legendary coach Vince Lombardi would take Iowa’s strength and smash Michigan State’s defense with it.
Not Greg Davis.
It doesn’t matter that starting running back Mark Weisman had to leave the game due to injury. It doesn’t matter that Michigan State has the #1 overall defense in the country. If you’re Iowa, you don’t give up on your strength which is running the ball. That approach may be obvious to Michigan State, but so what, you still go with your strength. Iowa’s strength is NOT the passing game, it’s good, but good BECAUSE it’s set up by the run.
Vince Lombardi attacked his opponent, he didn’t avoid it.
Greg Davis avoided the Michigan State defense by giving up on the running game. Mark Weisman got seven carries before getting injured. Bullock got just three carries for the whole game. Jordan Canzeri didn’t get any carries. How do you establish a running game – the team’s strength – with just ten carries for the running backs? Greg Davis didn’t attack Michigan State, he ran away from it, pun intended.
Greg Davis had a couple of great backfield tools at his disposal he didn’t really even try to use. With the loss of Weismann, Davis still had Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri in his tool box. Those two can run the rock! But Bullock gets just three carries and Canzeri zero? What happened to ‘The Next Man In’ mentality?
Vince Lombardi would fire Greg Davis.
Davis basically quit on the run after just four offensive series. He still had time to establish the run. He decided not to, he quit on it. Iowa did enjoy some passing success in the second quarter, but that short-lived success distracted Davis from what is Iowa football this year – the run.
Did Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz tell him to quit on the run? That’s not how he typically operates, he lets his coordinators do their thing. Did Ferentz get passive with game management, letting Davis get pass-happy in order to prevent possible injury to Bullock or Canzeri? Could be, but remember, Iowa’s passing game is effective BECAUSE of the run. And why not re-focus on the running game with the first offensive set in the third quarter, especially with Kevonte Martin-Manley – Iowa’s leading receiver – leaving the game due to injury? Davis still had time to establish the run, even with Iowa being down 17-14.
In the second half, Iowa always faced a 3rd and long, resulting in 3 and outs. Why? Because Davis gave up on the running game. Davis is predictable, when a running play results a one-yard gain or no gain, he defaults to a pass play. If an armchair quarterback knows that, you can bet a college defense does.
Because Davis gave up on the running attack – Iowa’s strength – the Michigan State defense just pinned its ears back and tee’d up on Quarterback Jake Rudock.
Because Davis gave up on running the ball, Iowa didn’t get short yardage third downs, let alone first downs.
Because Davis gave up on running the rock, the Iowa defense was on the field far too long.
For the second time this year, because Davis gave up on the running game, Iowa lost a football game it should have won. This loss was totally preventable. Davis quit on Iowa’s strength – the run – and Kirk Ferentz let him.
Vince Lombardi, would demote Kirk Ferentz.