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Northern Illinois converted six-of-15 first downs—40 percent—which is not good, but not as awful as last year. In 2011, Iowa allowed opponents to convert 45.89 percent of its third downs, which was 99th in the country.
However, consider the six the Huskies converted: 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-3, 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-6 and two 3rd-and-8s.
The long conversions were particularly upsetting given that they were all via designed rushing plays. It is even more daunting when one considers that NIU basically ran two plays with any success against the Hawks.
They were a prayer towards Micah Hyde's side of the field and a quarterback draw.
As the "prayer" only worked once, it seemed evident that Iowa could afford to sell out against the draw on third down.
Yet, the Huskies repeatedly converted it, once even converting it to the tune of a 73-yard scamper by Huskie quarterback Jordan Lynch, which went for a touchdown.
Iowa will face that same scenario all season—dangerous rushing quarterbacks that are ineffective when forced to pass. Anybody watching last week's Michigan-'Bama game saw that firsthand.
If Iowa doesn't figure out how to stop rushing quarterbacks, especially on third down, the defense is going to find itself on the field for longer stretches than it should be on the field.
That will lead to a tired and ineffective D.