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Iowa Football Position Grades: Sparty

Not much red pen needed to give out these grades

Iowa > MSU > Harbaugh (UM)
John Autey / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images

After Iowa’s dismantling of Michigan State, I am going to channel my inner Oprah. “You get an A! You get an A! You get an A!” I could pretty much end the article there, but let’s dig in a little more than that.

Oprah gives you all an A (pretty much)


QB’s: B

Spencer Petras played a solid game and we saw Alex Padilla for the first time. Iowa’s QB’s went 16-29, 179 yards, 1 TD, and most importantly, zero interceptions. That is unspectacular, but it’s also winning football.

RB’s: A

Tyler Goodson was a stud with the following stat line: 14/118/2 TD’s/8.1 avg. You get the feeling that he may be one of those backs who will perform better with even more touches. Mekhi Sargent averaged 3.4 yards per carry and also had 2 TD’s. We got our first glimpse of Gavin Williams, the 6’0”, 213 pound true frosh from Dowling. It’s always fun to see some young fellas balling out for the first time.


The Hawks were without Ihmir Smith-Marsette. No one noticed. If anything it allowed Charlie Jones more touches, along with Tyrone Tracy. I’m a big fan of both of these guys. Tracy is slippery. Jones just makes plays. He did at Buffalo, he did in camp, and he’s doing so now. More of him, please! Shaun Beyer made a few plays and Sam LaPorta had a quiet game (for him). Brandon Smith had another touchdown. With his vertical and size, B-Smith has a great chance of sticking in the League. The Hawks’ rushing attack and big lead were the biggest factors in keeping this grade down.


I’ve stated before but I’m old-school. OL and DL win games. At any level. I love me some big fellas that like to hit people. Our OL allowed just 1 sack and paved the way for 226 yards on the ground. Well, done, Big Uglies! No red ink for you! It was also terrific to get some snaps for Justin Britt, Mason Richman, Jack Plumb, Tyler Elsbury, and Nick DeJong. Of note, the Hawkeyes were without Coy Cronk and Kyler Schott.



Iowa’s defensive line stuffed the stat sheet vs Michigan State. This group accounted for 22 tackles. That’s a pretty huge number considering it’s typical for the guys up front to take on blocks and the guys behind them clean up the play. That’s indicative of our guys routinely winning individual battles. Golston, Heflin, VanValkenburg, Nixon, and Evans combined for 2 sacks, 6 TFL’s, and 5 QBH’s (QB hurries). Rocky was on the ropes all day.


Iowa’s linebackers played a solid game. Seth Benson and Nick Niemann combined for 15 tackles, Barrington Wade grabbed a pick, and Jestin Jacobs got some quality snaps while getting 2 tackles.


Iowa’s secondary did a nice job of both containing Michigan State’s big plays, and also contributing some big plays of its own. Rocky Lombardi and Ricky White destroyed ex-Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh’s defense (breaking news?) and the Hawks held this duo to... 1 catch for 22 yards. Iowa’s DB’s combined for 2 INT’s, 1 TFL, 3 pass break-ups, and 1 TD. Moss to the house!!!!

Special Teams: A

Ok, Keith Duncan purposely missed a 37 yard FG. I know this because I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan and Gary Anderson nailing every regular-season kick in 1998 and then missing in the playoffs vs the Falcons still haunts me. I’m sorry. So many trigger moments as a Vikings fan. Back to the Hawks. So, Keith decided perfect time to purposely shank one. Get that crap out of the way and we’re rolling from here. Tory Taylor is quietly becoming the best punter in the history of the freaking world, Charlie Jones is going to get babies named after him, and Iowa’s special teams are just doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well.

LL Cool J approves of Iowa’s special teams


That was fun. The only thing that would have been better would have been to drop than on the classy Mark Dantonio. On to the Gophers. Who hates Iowa? Go Hawks!