IOWA CITY — Iowa moved to 2-0 on the season Saturday with a 30-0 win over Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium.
Here are five things to think about as the Hawkeyes work toward Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at Iowa State, where ESPN’s College GameDay will be setting up shop outside of the south gates of Jack Trice Stadium for a live national telecast starting at 9 a.m.:
1. The good
Savor the shutout.
No matter who is on the other side of the field, in a game played today with wide-open offensive attacks spreading the field from boundary to boundary, a shutout remains a noteworthy accomplishment.
Iowa has had only 12 of them among the 154 victories Kirk Ferentz has accumulated in the 21 seasons he has been roaming the Hawkeye sideline and of those, only six have come against Big Ten competition.
Saturday’s work was a matter of pride for Hawkeye defenders, and realistic or not, they say a shutout is always among their goals each week no matter who Iowa is playing.
Mostly, the Hawkeyes were looking from week one to week two, the type of narrow focus that will serve Iowa well moving forward.
Through two games, the Hawkeyes rank second to Wisconsin in the Big Ten in allowing just 185 yards per game and is second in the conference in limiting opponents to a 23.1 percent conversion rate on third down.
Iowa is currently sixth in the league against the run, allowing 71.5 yards per game and is second in defending the pass at 113.5 yards per game.
The Hawkeyes see it as nothing more than a starting point.
“This is the kind of defense we want to be,’’ strong safety Geno Stone said. “We’re not perfect. We have a lot of work to do and ways we can get better, but this gives us an idea of what we are capable of doing.’’
2. The consistently good
Quarterback Nate Stanley has displayed the type of consistency that should be expected of a senior beginning his third season under center.
He has delivered a pair of strong efforts while continuing his upward movement in the Hawkeye record book.
“He really looks comfortable and in control,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s something you can’t hand a player.’’
Teammates say Stanley has become more vocal in the huddle, voicing clearer instructions on what he wants to see from one play to the next.
“Stanley’s out there on another level,’’ receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette said.
The results are illustrated in Stanley’s statistics. He’s completed 63.8 percent of his passes so far, throwing six touchdown passes and remaining interception free through 58 attempts.
Saturday's work, which move him past Ricky Stanzi with 58 career touchdown passes, marked the 10th time in Stanley’s career he has thrown at least three touchdown passes, a number topped in Iowa history only by the 11 Chuck Long recorded during his career three decades ago.
3. The not so bad
As promised, Iowa continued to shuffle its offense line early and often.
From left to right, Tristan Wirfs, Landan Paulsen, Tyler Linderbaum, Kyler Schott and Levi Paulsen were the Hawkeyes’ starting front five against Rutgers.
But once Wirfs flipped to right tackle and Mark Kallenberger entered at left tackle on Iowa’s second offensive series of the game, the shuffle started and included Cody Ince and true freshman Justin Britt before the game was over.
Injuries to Alaric Jackson, who is not expected back this week, and Cole Banwart, who is expected to return to the face the Cyclones, have given Iowa a welcomed chance to develop offensive line depth.
They’re helping Iowa average 6.3 yards per snap on offense, an average that will lead to more success than not.
4. The long-term risk
Iowa picked up some traction on the ground in the second half Saturday, rushing for 129 of its 194 yards on the ground in the final two quarters but Ferentz saw a need to improve to avoid problems down the road.
The Hawkeyes struggled early in the game in dissecting the nuances of the 3-4 defense Rutgers was throwing at Iowa, a look that will resurface again later in the season.
“They moved around and did a good job that way, but from where I was standing it looked like they got way too much penetration on us too often,’’ Ferentz said. “That’s something we’re going to have to get cleaned up and try to get our backs on track a little bit.’’
5. The leg up
Both questions coming into the season, Iowa’s kicking and punting through the first two games has been promising.
Kicker Keith Duncan has been perfect, connecting on all four of his field goals and all eight of his extra-point kicks. Duncan’s work Saturday included field goals from 43 and 46 yards, both topping his previous long of 41 set in a 2016 game against Wisconsin.
Punter Michael Sleep-Dalton averaged 48.3 yards on six punts against the Scarlet Knights and with a long of 57 yards. More significantly, through two games Iowa’s net punt average of 44.4 yards shows a nearly 10-yard improvement over a year ago.
Caleb Shudak, handling kickoffs, has recorded touchbacks on 10 of his 13 kicks this season and is averaging 64.4 yards. Five of Shudak’s six kickoffs Saturday were touchbacks.