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Iowa Football Position Grades: Purdue

How did the Hawks grade out vs the Boilers?

Daviyon Nixon was a baaaaddd man Saturday
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Let’s take a quick look at the grades for the Purdue game and then let’s flush it.

[Editor’s Note: I promise we’re almost done throwing you the recap coverage so you truly can flush this. Ugh.]



Spencer Petras played a solid, yet unspectacular, first game for the good guys. He was 22-39 for 265 yards. He didn’t throw for a TD and he did score on the Nate Stanley special (QB sneak). He also did not throw a pick. Spencer did enough to earn his first win under center. I can’t decide if his facial hair should earn or lose him a half-grade bump or deduction. What say you?

RB: A/F (Do we average this out to a C?)

The Hawks’ three-headed monster (Halloween vibe is strong in this one) grade is tough for me. On one hand Tyler Goodson, Mekhi Sargent, and Ivory Kelly-Martin treated Purdue’s defenders like middle schoolers, accumulating almost 200 yards on the ground and adding 59 thru the air with TGood’s catches.

The elephant in the running back room, however is the Hawks’ lack of taking care of the ball. If Goodson and Sargent don’t fumble, the game isn’t very close. Big if. Goodson’s was even more of a “2020” play in that Cole Banwart must be getting reps on the defensive side of the ball because he had an accidental, textbook punch of the ball as he was helping Goodson get extra yards. It was a hustle play that went wrong. You can’t fault either player for that. Anyway, a beautiful ground game was wasted because the Hawks gave the ball away twice. Hard to look past this.

WR/TE: C-/D+

If I were to break this into separate TE and WR rankings Sam LaPorta would grade out pretty high. I’ll give him an A-. The low grade stems from the lack of production by Iowa’s WR’s. This was a combo of a strong run game, questionable play calling to get the ball to guys who can make plays (I S-M, Tracy, and Smith), and an inexperienced QB. Smith-Marsette did run two times for 18 yards.

The WR’s also accounted for 35 yards in penalties on the day. ISM drew an unsportsmanlike and a false start. Tracy was flagged for a personal foul. (I will defend this as it was a heckuva football play that is now being called a penalty. Tracy wiped that dude out!) For whatever the reason, this is Iowa’s deepest, best group of receivers in quite some time. There will be no excuse for this group to not step up after game one.

OL: B-

I’m torn on this one as well. First of all, the Hawkeyes’ O-line did what they wanted most of the day. They allowed just one sack and plowed their way to 200 yards on the ground. That’s legit. The lower grade goes to the penalties. Three false starts and a holding call added up to minus 25 yards in penalties from this group. I did enjoy Tyler Linderbaum getting in the tackle column on Goodson’s fumble. I will text Brian Ferentz and let him know that we need a goal line play where we bring in Justin Britt at center and move The Big Nasty Lindy to fullback. You know he’d enjoy getting an extra couple of yards to hit people. This grade would be an A without the penalties.


DL: D+

Iowa’s defensive line was underwhelming on Saturday. Thankfully there is a DUDE named Daviyon Nixon for the black and gold. He ended the day with 7 total tackles, 12 sack, and 2 12 TFL’s. He had himself a day. Chauncey Golston played well with 3 tackles and a pass breakup. Noah Shannon was credited with .5 sack and .5 TFL.

Other than that, not a lot of production. John Waggoner had an almost-sack that would have been spectacular but he didn’t finish it off and O’Connell was able to throw the ball away. Jack Heflin was flagged for 15 yards for a face mask penalty. Something named Zander Horvath had 129 yards rushing on the day. Let’s get some more help and production next week against the Purple Cats.


Iowa’s linebackers were missing Jack Campbell and Djimon Colbert(opted out) against Purdue. Nick Niemann collected 8 solo tackles and Barrington Wade made some plays; 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and 1 INT. Jestin Jacobs assisted on 1 tackle. See above DL comments regarding RB yards allowed. This group was missing the experience of Colbert, especially against the pass.

DB: D-

I’m just wondering what this would have looked like with a healthy Rondale Moore. Yikes. David Bell treated us like his little brother, again. He had 13 catches for 121 yards and 3 scores. It actually felt like more than that, so maybe I should raise the grade?!? Milton Wright, known only to his family and 2 friends prior to Saturday, caught 7 balls for 85 yards. The Boilers had 282 yards through the air. Defending the pass is on the d-line, backers, corners and safeties, but our DB’s get this collective grade. Only way to go is up from here, Hawks! (Actually, there is a lower... never mind).

Special Teams: A

Keith Duncan, we love you. Please come back for your 9th year in 2021! Nice work on the snaps, holds, blocking. If/when KD misses anything it will be news. Big props to The Thunder from Down Under, Tory Taylor. Ok, that nickname seems a little creepy, but let’s roll with it. The Aussie had a terrific average of 44.2 yards and didn’t allow any punts to be returned. Everyone with me, “Punting is winning” (or it should have been).

Also, Taylor had a punt downed at the 1 yard line. I’m completely serious when I say this, but this is one of the most exciting/pivotal plays in the game of football. Kickoffs and kick coverage were nothing to write home about. I S-M will make plays here. Another positive was Charlie Jones returning punts. I like him. He had a long of 25 yards and he will house one if we get him a couple of blocks.