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Iowa Football Position Grades: Northwestern

I’m off the ledge. Not as bad as I originally thought. But 0-2.

I will run the ball. I will run the ball. I will run the ball.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The Iowa Hawkeyes were hoping to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Purdue. Unfortunately, Iowa came up short against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium on Halloween. As Charlie Brown would say, “I got a rock.”

Our treats were kinda Chuck Brown-like

Ok, ok, ok. Iowa’s trick-or-treating haul wasn’t quite a rock, more like those hard candies your grandma had in the decorative dish. Before we move on to Thanksgiving, how do people not like candy corn? I re-watched the game. Oddly enough, I feel slightly better. Let’s jump right into the professor’s grades. I’m not a professor, but I’m writing the article so, yeah.


QB: D+

Spencer Petras should not have thrown the ball 50 times. That’s on Brian Ferentz. Petras was 26/50 for 216 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INT’s. Petras had some NFL throws. Even more than I thought during my initial viewing of the game. Where Petras struggled was he got jumpy, nervous feet in the pocket in the second half (pressure situations) and he bailed on a handful of plays. Also, Spencer tried to throw a couple of fastballs into tight windows. In my mind I was giving the big fella an F/D-. After the re-watch, I gave him a bump.

RB: C+

Tyler Goodson 13/53 (3.3) 1 TD and Mekhi Sargent 4/20 (5.0) had an OK day on the ground and out of the backfield. The blocking wasn’t always there. They both had some nice plays. The offensive coordinator should have given them more love than he did. Iowa ran the ball well out of a shotgun look. The Hawks struggle when we line up and basically point to where we are going to run. A little creativity here, please. Thanks! To start the game Northwestern ran the ball 30 out of the first 35 plays. In coaching it’s more what you emphasize than what you teach. (Props to legendary basketball coach Don Meyer). Patty Fitz emphasized his run game and it ultimately paid off for him. I’m not terribly excited giving him a sort-of compliment. Yuck.


Iowa’s receivers should have put up better numbers considering we threw it half a hundy times. Ihmir Smith-Marsette caught 7 for 84. Brandon Smith hauled in 3 for 19 and a nice score. Sam LaPorta had 6 receptions for 46 yards. LaPorta had a drop or two. Petras had a little too much mustard on a few balls, but I’ve always believed if you touch it, you catch it. Iowa needs to get more out of Tyrone Tracy and Nico Ragaini. Also, our second TE has been non-existent. Iowa is Iowa when we have two TE’s who can block and be threats catching the ball.

OL: C+

This grade was a challenge for me. The front 5 only gave up one sack. Iowa’s backs averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Maybe a little better, more consistent push and the Hawks would have run the ball more than they did. I expect more from Iowa’s offensive line. It was interesting that Coy Cronk was benched. Maybe some rust there. Hawks gotta improve here.



Daviyon Nixon is playing his way onto an NFL roster. DNix stuffed the stat sheet with 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 TFL, and 1 Forced Fumble. Chauncey Golston had a nice game with 7 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 TFL, 1 QBH (hurry). Jack Heflin and Zach VanValkenburg also both made some plays on the day. JVV forced a fumble and recovered it.


Seth Benson and Nick Niemann played solid games with 13 and 10 tackles respectively. Benson had 10 solos and 2 QBH, while Niemann was around the ball much of the day. It was good getting Benson back.


Iowa’s secondary played a solid game thru the air, giving up zero passing TD’s and limiting the number of Northwestern big plays. The Hawks’ defenders also did a decent job with run support. Jack Koerner made what felt like a game-changing play when he intercepted Peyton Ramsey’s ball in the fourth quarter. Riley Moss paced the DB’s with 9 tackles.

Special Teams: A

The Hawkeye special teams units had another very good game. Tory Taylor punted four times for a 49.0 yard average. Automatic Duncan made FG’s from 22 and 47, and Caleb Shudak missed a 52 yarder, bouncing it off the upright. This was a terrific effort in a windy environment, but I also put my money on Keith Duncan. Ihmir Smith-Marsette had one kick return for 33 yards. Charlie Jones caught the punts he needed to catch. Terry Roberts made an extremely athletic play covering a punt and maintaining possession before rolling out of bounds.


Going into the year there was a great deal of buzz about the Hawkeyes’ offense. Brian Ferentz called an excellent game vs USC in the Holiday Bowl. Prior to the last two weeks, Nate Stanley was the only Iowa QB to take any meaningful snaps leading a Brian Ferentz offense. Brian Ferentz has been getting schooled. Our offense is quite a bit behind our defense. My guess is that Phil Parker would also like us to not throw the ball 50 times ever again. Let’s go get Sparty. Even though Mark Dantonio is gone, we can still dislike them. I’m thinking about faking an injury as I type this. Go Hawks!