IOWA CITY—Michigan’s defense couldn’t have asked for a better start Saturday at Iowa.
On the Hawkeyes first play from scrimmage junior linebacker Jake Ryan came free on a blitz, rushing the throw of Jake Rudock who sent the ball sailing in the air inside his own 10 yard line as Michigan junior linebacker Brennen Beyer picked it off, running it in for a touchdown.
The Wolverines were gifted a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
“First, Coach Mattison had a perfect play call,” Beyer said afterward. “He was expecting a play action pass and sent Jake Ryan right off the edge and he made a great play, hit the quarterback as he was throwing it so the ball landed right in my hands.”
Michigan forced four turnovers against Iowa including a pair of interceptions by cornerbacks Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor, giving the Wolverines’ offense ample opportunity to put more points on the board.
“They did a great job,” quarterback Devin Gardner said of the defense after the game. “It gave us a chance. We’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Although Michigan picked off three poor throws by quarterback Jake Rudock, the Hawkeyes were still able to move the football especially in the second half as Iowa outscored the Wolverines 17-0 on their way to a 24-21 comeback win.
The Iowa offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage in the final 30-minutes of play. Hawkeyes’ running back Mark Weisman finished the game with 88-yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, wearing the Michigan defense out late.
“That’s on us,” Blake Countess said after the game. “We have to get off the field as a defense and that’s just missed opportunities as a defense. When you get them in third down situations you have to stop them and on first downs we have to stop the momentum.
“I think that’s on us as a defense, the fact that we were on the field for so long.”
Rudock finished his day 19-of-30 passing for 239-yards and two touchdowns including one a piece from tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and wide receiver Tevaun Smith.
Iowa sealed their comeback win on a third down play action pass to Fiedorowicz with just over a minute remaining after stuffing two run plays on first and second down.
“We talk about that all the time,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said afterward. “You have got to be a team. We gave up two touchdowns late in the third quarter that we gave up our lead.
“We have to hold that lead.”
On the second half struggles Beyer added, “From what I saw I don’t know that we were that gap sound,” Beyer said. “Maybe our eyes weren’t as discipline as they should’ve been either. But, we’re going to take a look at the film, I’m not too sure yet.”