May 22, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — There’s no denying that Iowa’s offensive performance in the Big Ten Championship was hard to watch for all parties involved.

After all, the Hawkeyes only generated 151 total yards, lost three fumbles and failed to score any points for the second time this season. As awful as the offensive production was in the shutout loss to Michigan, none of the players were pointing fingers in the locker room. Instead Hawkeye leaders emerged and took accountability, especially quarterback Deacon Hill.

He’s receiving the shoulder of the blame from the fans, but refuses to keep his head down. Hill knew the Hawkeyes had zero margin for error against one the best defenses in the country, and they shot themselves in the foot multiple times anyway.

“We lost because we made some mistakes and (Michigan) made less, so the game didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” Hill said. “We had our game plan, and knew what kind of coverages that we were going to get going into the game, but they were a good defense.”

Execution was a major issue in Hill’s eyes, from dropped passes, to poor protection up front. Hill completed 18 of his 32 passes for 120 yards. Not to mention he was sacked four times. Iowa’s third down efficiency was poor, and it failed to convert three fourth down attempts. The 67,842 fans in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium watched as Hill took some big hits, but he battled back and never gave up.

The signal-caller wanted to show that he had heart and toughness, and he did. Unfortunately, it happened in losing fashion on the biggest stage in the Big Ten. The Wolverines led the Hawkeyes in total offense, plays, first downs and time of possession. Michigan exposed some glaring weaknesses that Hill wants to get fixed. The Hawkeyes have now failed to score a touchdown over their past six quarters overall.

Despite Iowa’s offensive shortcomings this fall, Hill appreciates all of the experience, considering he was a backup entering the season. In his mind the Hawkeyes were Big Ten West Champs for a reason, and Hill’s not going to let one loss define their 10-win season.

“It’s been a wild ride, and I was not expecting this when I first got (to Iowa), but it is what it is,” he said. “We go to this point as a team, not just because of me, our team is the reason we are here.”

Hill really wanted to pull off the upset for former Wolverines Cade McNamara and Erick All, who were unable to play because of season-ending injuries. He knew how bad McNamara and All wanted to face their former team, and wished the offense could’ve put up better results. Once the smoke cleared, the Hawkeyes had to take that walk of shame back to the locker room, and Hill felt like he let his teammates down.

“I think the reason I got so emotional is just because each guy on the team I feel pretty close with, I love all of them to death,” the gunslinger said. “Guys like Cade (McNamara) and Erick (All) who wish 100 percent they were playing this game, I wish we had gotten the win for them, I mean all the seniors like Joe (Evans), Nick (DeJong), Jay (Higgins), all those guys.”

Now Hill is going to try and pick up the pieces approaching the Hawkeyes’ bowl game. He’ll have an opportunity to redeem himself, and help Iowa (10-3) earn 11 wins for the first time since 2015. The extra practices will definitely help the offense, so Hill needs to utilize the time frame, and dive deeper into the playbook. Anything to help the team bounce back from their embarrassing loss in Indianapolis.

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