2014 Recap: Fans in Iowa City are starting to get a little restless with head coach Kirk Ferentz after another mundane season for the Hawkeyes. Iowa finished the year 7-6 but lost three of its final four conference games to finish Big Ten play with a 4-4 mark. The Hawkeyes rounded out a difficult end to the year with an embarrassing 45-28 loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Early in the year, Iowa’s defense appeared to be one of the conference’s best, something Ferentz needed with an immobile offense as the year began. As the schedule strengthened, however, Iowa’s defense started to wear down, proving it was nothing more than a mediocre unit in the conference.
As the season progressed, running back Mark Weisman and quarterback Jake Rudock improved, allowing the Hawkeyes to put more points on the scoreboard, but the defense was unable to slow down some of the Big Ten’s top offensive powers.
Iowa did finish with seven wins on the year, but not one of those wins came against an FBS team with a winning record. Pitt and Illinois finished the season at 6-7 after losses in their respective bowl games.
The Hawkeyes showed flashes of excellence on both sides of the football throughout 2014 but never could get both units to click in the same game. It was a frustrating season in Iowa and one that has Ferentz on the hot seat.
High Point: Though not overly impressive through the first six weeks of the season, Iowa still began the year 5-1 with road wins at Pittsburgh and Purdue. At the time, Iowa’s defense surrendered just 19 points per game and were limiting offenses to under a 100 yard average in the running game. A disappointing loss to Iowa State seemed to be in the rear-view mirror after the Hawkeyes rattled off three straight and began conference play with a 2-0 mark. Through the first half of the season, the Hawkeyes were looking like a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten West.
Low Point: Iowa lost its final three games of the year to solidify a disappointing season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes fell to Wisconsin by just two points and lost to Nebraska the following week in overtime before getting pummeled by Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl. It’s not like the Hawkeyes were beaten by bad teams to close out the season, but for a club desperately trying to get over the hump, they were important games. Losing three straight is never a positive thing heading into the offseason.
Best Player: Plenty of players made a case for being named the Hawkeyes top player in 2014, but the award has to go to senior defensive back John Lowdermilk. He was a tackling machine for Iowa this season, recording 103 total tackles to go along with three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He didn’t put up big sack numbers like defensive lineman Drew Ott, but the senior was a constant for his team every week of the season. His contributions in the defensive secondary are going to be missed in 2015.
2015 Outlook: Much of Iowa’s defensive talent will be lost with players like Lowdermilk, Louis Trinca-Pasat, Quinton Alston and Carl Davis gone for next season, but Ferentz always seems to reload defensively. The question will be on offense. The Hawkeyes have to be more efficient and put more points on the scoreboard next season to be a contender in the west division again. That’ll be a difficult task for the Hawkeyes without running back Mark Weisman, who scored 16 touchdowns on the ground in 2014. Somehow, Iowa has to find a way to be effective in both the passing game and the running attack to compete with division foes Wisconsin and Nebraska next season.
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