Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz took the blame for another slow start for the Hawkeyes in Saturday's 27-24 loss to Purdue.
“Real simply, they clearly outplayed us in the first half,” Ferentz said. “They were more ready to play emotionally, more ready to play cleaner, more fundamentally sound. You can say it's this, it's that, lunar moon, whatever, but that's coaching. And that's me. Coaching starts with me.”
Purdue snapped a five-game losing streak that included several close losses. Iowa has lost four straight for the first time since 2007.
“They came in and played to win and competed hard enough to win, and looked like the team that played against Ohio State, Notre Dame earlier in the year,” Ferentz said. “So give them credit.
“Clearly we were outcoached and outplayed, particularly in the first half. That's disappointing.”
Running game still without traction
Iowa managed just 74 yards rushing on 31 attempts, divided between running back Damon Bullock and quarterback James Vandenberg. Vandenberg, not to be confused as a dual-threat, rushed for 31 yards on eight carries. Bullock averaged just 1.9 yards per rush, picking up 43 yards on 23 carries.
Iowa continues to play without left tackle Brandon Scherff and guard Andrew Donnal, who both suffered season-ending injuries Oct. 20 against Penn State.
Junior left guard Conor Boffeli of West Des Moines Valley earned his first career start at left guard.
The Hawkeyes also played again without running back Mark Weisman.
“You've probably noticed we're not looking quite the same as we were a couple weeks ago,” Ferentz said. “But the guys are working on it. They're trying. I think the defense has something to do with that, but we're just not moving the ball, period, well enough.”
It may not get better any time soon, either.
“To hang our hat on the run right now, it's probably not going to be what we're going to do,” Ferentz said. “I don't know that we can do that with a heavy percentage, but we still have to run the ball effectively if we're going to win.”
Iowa fell to 2-4 in games decided by three points or fewer. The Hawkeyes lead all FBS schools with six games decided by three points or less. … Iowa's defense recovered a season-high four fumbles, turning the Purdue miscues into 14 points. … Micah Hyde's 9-yard fumble return touchdown was his third career score and Iowa's first fumble-return touchdown since Bob Sanders' score against Illinois in 2003. … Tight end Zach Derby had a career day, with four receptions for 38 yards.
— Rob White