The Hawkeyes won. It didn’t feel great, but we won. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at how each position graded. It was an ugly game. Poor quarterback play, not much of a running game against a porous defense, wide receiver drops, chunks of yards given up to Cornhuskers at key moments. It was a frustrating game. Thankfully, the good guys scored more points than Frost’s squad. I never thought that any team could surpass my extreme dislike (I’m far too kind to use the word hatred) for the Cyclones and Gophers, and along comes Scott Frost and Nebraska and SAVES THE DAY!
I thought that our running game was going to be spectacular. Then, because of this, I thought Big Spence was going to connect on a bomb. I apologize for this terrible take. I’ve never felt so scared when an Iowa quarterback drops back to pass. I guess the good news is that when we do complete a pass, it feels like the equivalent of winning the lottery. Petras was 18-30 for 193 yards, 1 INT, and 1 TD. Petras did have multiple balls dropped. A few of these I’m putting 50% on the QB. I equate it to the bored little league outfielder. As the pitcher is working slowly and can’t find the strike zone, the outfielders are almost certain the ball will never come out to them anyway. Maybe this isn’t fair of me, but our QB play is terrible. We are undefeated now if we are getting average play from this position. I will forever blame Brian Ferentz for having Petras throw it 544 times vs. Northwestern.
Tyler Goodson ended the day with 111 yards (3.7) on the ground and two receptions for 21 yards. Goodson got stronger as the day went on. Mekhi Sargent only carried the ball 5 times. He needed more carries, and not to the detriment of Goodson’s carries.
Iowa’s tight ends Sam LaPorta and Shaun Beyer totaled 7 catches for 70 yards. Beyer’s one-handed snare will go on the end-of-year highlight reel.
The wide receivers didn’t account for much on the day. Tyrone Tracy did get on the board in what I’ve been told is called a touchdown thrown to a member of the offense. There were multiple drops. I thought Nico Ragaini should have grabbed a nice ball from Petras. It would have been a nice catch, but Ragaini “missed” the ball, catching the back half of the football. How different would we feel about Petras’ game if Ragaini hauls this in? Without the TE’s here, Iowa’s much-hype WR’s would be in the D range.
Iowa’s offensive line has been playing some dominating football lately. Not so much on Friday. While only allowing one sack, Iowa’s front five struggled in the running game. The Hawks averaged less than three yards a rush against a pretty bad Nebraska defense.
Our defensive line didn’t play as well as they have as of late, but Iowa’s D-line made plays late when it counted. Daviyon Nixon (8 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL) and Chauncy Golston (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF) cleaned up in crunch time. Zach VanValkenburg had a beautiful in-air fumble recovery to seal the deal. Iowa gave up more yards to a below average Nebby team than expected. The end of the game helped bump this grade up.
The Hawks gave up 143 rushing yards to the Cornhuskers and 195 yards through the air. Not ideal considering Nebby’s QB’s aren’t very good. Nick Niemann continued to be all over the place with 12 tackles. Jack Campbell continues to show he has a bright present and future as he had 2 TFL, one of which was spectacular.
Iowa’s secondary was solid in coverage and in run support. Matt Hankins tallied 9 tackles to lead the way. Dane Belton had a Bob Sanders-esque hit that was textbook and completely legal. He hit Nebby dude so hard I was expecting a flag. I wonder how many flags Hitman Bob Sanders would get if he played in this day and age of football.
Special Teams: A-
Punting is winning! Tory Taylor had another nice day. He punted for an average of 40.5 yards. One of the biggest plays was the muffed punt by Nebraska. Keith Duncan made 4 field goals, missing only from 51 yards out when it hit the crossbar. How much does Duncan love kicking Nebby’s butt!? Charlie Fearless Jones had two punt returns for 39 yards.