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Iowa Football Position Grades: Penn State

The Hawkeyes passed the Penn State test with flying colors

Iowa v Penn State
Mekhi Sargent rumbled over the century mark
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be Iowa football without the gut punch we all took after Sean Clifford’s two throws, two touchdowns against our Hawks in Happy Valley this past Saturday. We were cruising along, thinking of getting our backups quality snaps and yikes. Thankfully our squad is better than theirs and we move on to Nebby post-Turkey Day.

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Spencer Petras has won 3 games in a row as a starting quarterback in the Big Ten. That’s more than solid. He was 18-28 for 186 yards and 0 TD’s. Most importantly he did not throw an interception. He made some throws and missed some. How about that for a recap? With our running game and defense, the Hawkeyes can afford to have a game manager at this position.

RB: A-

Mekhi Sargent had a stellar day. 15/101 (6.7) and 2 TD’s. Tyler Goodson had a solid day, 20/78 (3.9) and 1 put-the- dude-on-skates touchdown. I like this one-two punch. Let’s feed these beasts against the Huskers.


Statistically speaking our guys who catch the football are going to be a bit bored this year, it seems. They can hang their hats on blocking and making plays when the ball finds its way into their vicinity.


Despite its record, Penn State still has some pretty talented Jimmys and Joes. Iowa’s O-line gave up three sacks on the day. Our running backs accumulated 175 yards on the ground for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. Also of note. Tyler Linderbaum has three tackles on the year. I’m the only person in the world who thinks this is awesome, but dadgummit (John Hayden Fry) if we turn the ball over this is a converted defensive lineman who is champing at the bit to take your head off (in a football-league way of course).

Phil Parker has his front 7 playing at an A level



Penn State came into the game averaging 158.3 yards on the ground. They gained 62. Enough said. The Hawks got terrific production from this unit. Daviyon Nixon was everywhere. The big fella sealed the game with a pick, a stutter step, and a cutback. LeVar Woods is drawing up a fake field goal using DNix as we speak. Zach VanValkenburg has his second terrific game in a row, garnering four tackles, 1 TFL, and recovering two fumbles. Chauncey Golston was in on the party with a sack, a TFL, and his own interception.


Iowa’s linebackers had themselves a day as well. Nick Niemann had 17 tackles. That seems like a Pop Warner number. Seth Benson and Jack Campbell continue to make plays. Iowa’s defensive line and linebackers are clicking at a very high level.

DB: B-

Dane Belton is having a nice season. He somewhat gets forgotten as he’s a hybrid. Maybe I should make a Cash grade going forward? Belton had 4 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Jack Koerner didn’t get an interception. Just thought I’d throw that (sorry) in there as he’s been set-your-clock consistent getting picks lately. Sean Clifford’s first two throws made this group look like elementary students, but Phil Parker’s Punishers brought The Big Red Dog back down to Earth.

Special Teams: B

A few things. First of all, Keith Duncan isn’t going to be an All-American. He should have been one last year. What Duncan can do is build on his legacy. He’s already one of the greatest, most clutch kickers in Iowa football history. Duncan will more than likely come back for his 15th year in 2020-21, tying Jess Settles for “how is that guy still at Iowa?” record. Tory Taylor punted at a 44.4 yard clip on the day. Charlie Jones scoffed at many fair catch opportunities. Dude is fearless and talented.

On to Nebby. Also, props to Illinois football for the tweet regarding the Huskers.