It’s been pretty well documented around these parts that Iowa had an absolutely stellar game on defense and special teams in their 14-13 upset win over the Wolverines. Now the Big Ten Conference is letting the world know that they’ve taken notice, too, by awarding three different Hawkeyes with Big Ten Player of the Week awards. The only award that Iowa didn’t win was Offensive Player of the Week, which was won by Tommy Armstrong.
We’ll start with the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, who far and away had the best game out of all the players on the field at Kinnick this past Saturday. Jaleel Johnson was a man amongst boys, recording nine tackles (six solo, 3 assisted) and two tackles for loss, which included a safety and a huge sack of Wilton Speight. Johnson was just about unstoppable against the Wolverines, and his draft stock probably climbed a whole lot with his performance on the national stage. In case you wanted to see him blow up De’Veon Smith in the end zone again, here it is.
We’ll stay with the defense, and take a look at Manny Rugamba, who was awarded co-Freshman of the Week honors from the Big Ten. Rugamba broke up three passes against the Wolverines while replacing senior Greg Mabin, but none of his plays were bigger than his interception of Wilton Speight in the 4th quarter. With Michigan driving and up by two, the Iowa defense desperately needed to get a stop in order to keep this one close. Rugamba provided that stop and was a big reason the Hawkeyes were able to win this one.
Last, but not least, Iowa kicker Keith Duncan took home Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Duncan went 2-for-2 on field goals in this one, and it’s easy to see why he won this award.
That being said (and just to recognize one more player), he’s probably not the only Iowa special teams player who could have won it. Punter Ron Coluzzi had a MONSTER game against the Wolverines. Coluzzi pinned Michigan inside their own 20-yard line three times, including once at the 2, leading to Johnson’s safety. He also got hit on three different occasions, and it’s probably a miracle that he was able to stay in the game. We feel you, Ron.
One last time, congratulations to Keith Duncan, Manny Rugamba, and Jaleel Johnson on their Big Ten Player of the Week award honors. Let’s do it again next week, gentlemen.