Iowa hasn’t been nearly so stout in the secondary.
All four of the touchdowns the Hawkeyes’ defense has let up in the past two games came on significant pass plays.
Iowa has been forced to start freshman Desmond King with Jordan Lomax nursing a hamstring injury, and King has predictably had both good and bad moments.
But it was senior B.J. Lowery who got beat by Iowa State’s Quenton Bundrage on a 67-yard TD catch. Lowery over-pursued the receiver on a short pass near the sideline, and Bundrage spun away and ran roughly 60 yards without being touched.
Bundrage also caught TD passes of 26 and 17 yards in the fourth quarter. But Lowery bounced back with a leaping, one-handed interception that got the Hawkeyes off the hook for letting the Cyclones recover an onside kick.
Ferentz said Tuesday that Lomax could be back by Saturday, but it’s too soon to know whether he’ll be fit enough to start.
“With the end of the (Iowa State) game, those were just technique things, maybe getting a little lackadaisical,” Miller said. “There are moments in a game where you can really have the opportunity to put teams away, and I think that’s an area where this team needs to grow.”
With the start of Big Ten play less than two weeks away, Iowa’s preferred strategy for 2013 is coming into focus.
The Hawkeyes simply want to run the ball and stop the other guys from the doing the same. Only option-heavy Army and Air Force have more carries than Iowa, which appears intent on controlling games behind running back Mark Weisman and an impressive line.
If the Hawkeyes can continue to stuff what’s in the front of them and stop allowing so many plays to get behind them, Iowa might soon regain its reputation as a defensive stalwart.
“The good news is I think we can get a lot better,” Ferentz said. “That the thing I think I’m most excited about is that we still can play a lot better, and we’re going to have to. We understand that. It’s a process too, and we’re not a team that can waste a day. If we do, it’s probably going to show up.”